An Adélie penguin approaches an emperor penguin and its chick during feeding time in Antarctica’s Atka Bay.

An Adélie penguin approaches an emperor penguin and its chick during feeding time in Antarctica’s Atka Bay.

Troublemaker © Stefan Christmann

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 59: People’s Choice shortlist

From sleepy polar bears and trespassing crabs to colourful moon jellyfish and soaring barn swallows, this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award captures some of nature’s most fascinating moments from across the world.

Enjoy a selection of shortlisted images, discover the incredible stories behind the lens and don’t forget to vote for your winner.


Tender Touch – Andy Parkinson

Two Scottish hares touch noses in a snowy white landscape

Andy has been photographing the hares of Scotland’s Monadhliath Mountains for 15 years, but in all that time he’s never witnessed a moment like this. He was expecting the female to repel the male’s advances with their usual explosive boxing behaviour.

Unexpectedly, the two courting hares came together and touched noses. Acting quickly, Andy caught their special moment on camera. For him, this was yet more evidence of the highly complex social relationships that animals have with one another. 


Looking at Me, Looking at You – John E Marriott

A brown bear stands upright in a calm river, its arms outstretched in front

On the Chilko River in Canada, John was leading a grizzly bear photography tour when the group came across this bear fishing for salmon. They watched as the bear rose onto its hind legs as if to get a better perspective on the salmon in the shallow water.

As the bear stood up, it momentarily glanced in the boat’s direction with a quizzical expression before returning to its salmon-fishing endeavours.


Neighbourhood Dispute – Ofer Levy

A crab and a mudskipper stand off above the surface of the water

A mudskipper fiercely defends its territory from a trespassing crab in Roebuck Bay, Australia. These amphibious fish often build mud walls around their territories where they feed and breed, usually thriving along the intertidal mudflats and mangroves of Western Australia. 

This crab is evidentially trespassing and by opening its mouth and raising its dorsal fin, the mudskipper is challenging the intruder, attempting to scare it off with a threatening display. Ofer watched the two continually confront each other out on the mud flat – the mudskipper always initiating the clash.


Aurora Jellies – Audun Rikardsen

Two jellyfish can be seen underneath the water of a lake at night, the aurora borealis in the sky above lights them up

Moon jellyfish gather in their hundreds under the aurora borealis in the cool autumnal waters of northern Norway.

Sheltering his equipment in self-made waterproof housing, Adun used a single exposure as well as his own system for adjusting the focus and aperture during the exposure. This enabled him to capture the reflection of the sky’s colours in the surface of the water whilst lighting up the jellyfish with flashes.


Ice Bed – Nima Sarikhani 

A polar bear curls up to sleep in the depression of an ice berg

After having spent three days desperately searching for polar bears through thick fog in the far north off Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, Nima encountered two males and watched them for eight hours.

Just before midnight, the young male clambered onto a small iceberg and using his strong paws, clawed away at it to carve out a bed for himself before drifting off to sleep.


Swallow Over Meadow – Hermann Hirsch and Jan Lessman

A photograph of a swallow flying directly above the camera, with its wings outstretched the bird is framed by blue flowers from the meadow

Hermann and Jan had prepared to photograph at an old farm, knowing that barn swallows were nesting there. As their name suggests, barn swallows prefer to nest inside buildings and usually return to the same spot each year.

They positioned their camera among the cornflowers outside, watching as the swallows continuously flew low over the meadow, catching insects on the wing. They took this beautiful image using a remote control as one of the swallows flew over the camera.


Tough Negotiation – Ayala Fishaimer

A red fox cub locks eyes with the shrew it had thrown up in the air moments earlier.

After an hour of driving to the Judean Foothills in Israel Ayala arrived at the red fox den, parked a safe distance away, and waited. It wasn’t long before four cubs appeared and started to play. 

This cub lost interest in its siblings and turned its attention to a shrew in the sand. Moments later, the cub started knocking it around like a ball and threw the shrew in the air. As it landed, Ayala caught the moment the hapless shrew and the fox locked eyes.


The Happy Turtle – Tzahi Finkelstein

A Balkan pond turtle shares a moment of peaceful coexistence with a northern banded groundling dragonfly in Israel’s Jezreel Valley.

This dragonfly unexpectedly landed on the turtle’s nose but instead of the turtle snapping up the insect, it appeared to be experiencing pleasure from the interaction as they shared a moment of peaceful coexistence amid a swamp’s murky waters.

Originally Tzahi was photographing shore birds in Israel’s Jezreel Valley, he wasn’t interested in the Balkan Pond turtle walking in the shallow water. It wasn’t until the northern banded groundling dragonfly flew past his lens in the direction of the turtle that his focus changed and captured this wonderful encounter.


Shared Parenting – Mark Boyd

Two lionesses groom one of the pride’s five cubs in Kenya’s Maasai Mara.

In the early hours of the morning in Kenya’s Maasai Mara, Mark watched as a pair of lionesses devotedly groomed one of the pride’s five cubs. Females raise each other’s cubs as their own, sharing parenting duties. Here the youngster was clearly enjoying the moment of affection and attention.

The lionesses had hidden the cubs the evening before in a dense bush as they set off to hunt. Returning from their unsuccessful mission in the morning they called the cubs out onto the open grassland for a grooming session.


Rubbish drinks – Claire Waring

A Celebes crested macaque investigates the contents of a plastic bottle from a pile ready for recycling on a beach at the edge of Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve, Indonesia.

A group of rangers had collected piles of plastic bottles for recycling from a beach at the edge of the Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Most of the bottles had washed up from the sea. It wasn’t long until a Celebes crested macaque came to investigate.

The local Celebes crested macaques have learnt that these plastic bottles contain liquid and are often seen chewing off the caps to reach the contents. They have even worked out that the coloured bottles often contain sweet liquids so pick these ones out. Some even carry bottles away into the forest, frustrating the rangers’ efforts.