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Penguins arguing, a sleepy polar bear, and a happy turtle are in the running for wildlife photo of the year, and you can vote on them

A turtle lets a dragonfly balance on its face instead of immediately eating it, it's mouth open in what looks like a gleeful grin.
The photographer described this shot as "a moment of peaceful coexistence."Tzahi Finkelstein / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
  • You can vote for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award.

  • The Natural History Museum in London released the images, and will exhibit them in February.

  • The photos show an elephant kicking trash, a territorial mudskipper, a loving lion family, and more.

In a moment of mercy, a turtle was captured letting a dragonfly perch on its face instead of turning it into a crunchy snack.

The Balkan pond turtle lives all over Asia and Europe, and enjoys a rich diet of whatever is nearby. But they tend to prefer meat, according to the Croatian Herpetological Society, which makes the turtle's decorum here even kinder.

"The turtle appeared to be experiencing pleasure from the interaction as they shared a moment of peaceful coexistence in the midst of the swamp's murky waters," photographer Tzahi Finkelstein said in the official caption for the photograph.

This photo is one of 25 currently up for consideration as the public's favorite wildlife photo of 2023.

It's an offshoot of a larger contest that was initially judged in October, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, which is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum in London.

The winners of the people's choice award will be announced in February 2024 and displayed in the museum along with those announced earlier this year.

This is only a portion of the 25 images up for the title. If you want to see them all, and vote for your favorite, you can do so here. Voting closes on January 31, 2024.

A bear side-eyeing the photographer

A photo of a bear standing up in a stream, looking suspicious at the camera.
Bears across North America enjoy dining on salmon. John E. Marriott / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Grizzly bears have made a comeback in North America thanks to conservation efforts beginning in the 1970s. Nowadays, people can't get enough of the cuddly-looking carnivores.

The Chilko River, in British Columbia, Canada, is known for its grizzly bears. Multiple companies offer tours to the area to view the bears as they feast on local sockeye salmon populations.

John Marriott, the photographer who captured this moment, was leading a grizzly photography tour when he stumbled upon this bear.

As they approached in their small fishing boat, the official caption detailed, the bear glanced at them with a "quizzical" expression for a moment, before refocusing on the salmon.

A curious lion cub and its watchful mom

A lion cub approached the camera while licking the air, its mother lying in the background.
Lion cubs are isolated from the rest of the pride for the beginning of their life. Gerald Hinde / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Life on the Savanna can be brutal for the king of the jungle, and a baby lion has to be wary of predators like humans, leopards, and adult male lions. As such, the photo's official caption detailed, the mother lions usually keep their kids hidden away for about the first six weeks of their life.

The photo, named "Curiosity" by photographer Gerald Hinde, shows a lion cub approaching a vehicle as its mother watches in South Africa's Greater Kruger National Park.

Even with all the animal had to fear, it approached Hinde. Curiosity, it seems, is not limited to house cats.

A homecoming for this bat

A view from below as a bat returns to its home in a termites nest.
There are two additional bats camouflaged in this photograph. Dvir Barkay / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

This photograph features the underside of a pygmy round-eared bat as it makes its final flap towards its home in a termite nest in Costa Rica.

It returns home to two nearly indistinguishable bats, poking their heads out from the nest.

This odd-looking nest isn't just decorative, it's a unique feature of this species that the photographer, Dvir Barkay, said took years to capture.

The bats make their home in termite nests in Costa Rica by hollowing them out with their teeth, according to the image caption.

A sleepy polar bear

A polar bear lies sleeping on an ice berg bed
The Svalbard archipelago in Norway is known for its polar bear populations. Nima Sarikhani / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Polar bears, like us, sometimes fuss around with their bedding before dozing off to sleep.

In this case, photographer Nima Sarikhani watched as this polar bear used his paws to carve out a nook in a small iceberg, making it an ideal spot to doze off.

Sarikhani found this picky sleeper in the water off of the Svalbard archipelago in Norway.

Though the area is known as the "land of the polar bears", it took Sarikhani three days and multiple course corrections on their research vessel to find any bears at all.

A neighborly disagreement

A crab fights with a mudskipper, the dishes mouth agape.
The mudskipper can live on land and in water. Ofer Levy / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

This funny-looking creature is no stranger to hardship — the mudskipper is a hardy fish that can live both in and out of water.

This particular fish was found fighting off an invading crab in Roebuck Bay, Australia, by photographer Ofer Levy. Levy witnessed the fish repeatedly initiating the brawl over its muddy kingdom.

"This crab is evidently 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," according to the official caption for the photo.

An elephant kicking through the trash to pick through it

An elephant kicks up garbage in a dump Sri Lanka, surrounded by wild dogs.
Elephants will resort to scavenging for food. Brent Stirton / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

This photograph captured an elephant scavenging for food at a dump in Sri Lanka. As humans continue encroaching into elephant habitat, onlookers have witnessed more of this behavior, according to the caption.

From scarring on the elephant's legs, it appeared the animal had been shot before, most likely by a farmer trying to keep it from eating crops.

So, the caption detailed, this elephant is probably no stranger to scavenging for food.

Lionesses showing that it takes a village

lion parents lick either side of their cubs face
Lionesses raise their cubs communally. Mark Boyd / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

This photo shows two lionesses grooming a young cub under their care in the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. The area is home to an estimated 850 to 900 lions.

"The youngster was clearly enjoying the moment of affection and attention," according to the caption.

Female lions raise cubs indiscriminately, sharing the load of parenting duties and keeping the cubs together in a nursery group called a crèche.

This isn't just a heart-warming display of cooperation, but may also helps the cubs avoid being eaten. There is safety in numbers after all.

A penguin bothering its neighbors

An Adélie penguin approaches an emperor penguin and its chick during feeding time in Antarctica's Atka Bay, it's mouth open.
Adêlie penguins have a varied diet, and sometimes try to scavenge from other penguins. Stefan Christmann / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Adélie penguins are known nuisances in the Antarctic, according to the caption on this photograph, which is entitled "Troublemaker".

During certain seasons, Adélies can be found taunting other penguin species, like Emperors, to try to get them to drop their food.

So when photographer Stefan Christmann saw this Adélie approach an adult Emperor and its chick, he paid special attention.

A hare gliding above the snow

A photo of a snowshoe hare in the winter snow.
Snowshoe hares are named for their large feet, which keep them from sinking into the snow. Deena Sveinsson / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Photographer Deena Sveinsson waited hours for this sleeping snowshoe hare to wake form its slumber, capturing the moment its paws struck the snow.

These large, flat feet act like snowshoes, and help to keep the hare from sinking into the snow.

Sveinsson herself had to wear snowshoes in order to make it to this point in Rocky Mountain National Park, aligning subject and photographer in the fight against the elements.

A fox negotiating with a shrew

A fox peers down at a shrew in a rocky outhang.
A meal and playtime.Ayala Fishaimer / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Like children, red foxes sometimes play with their food.

In this case, a fox cub in the Judean Foothills of Israel was caught staring down a shrew it had just grabbed out of the sand and thrown up into the air.

Photographer Ayala Fishaimer caught this interaction on camera after following this cub and its three siblings.

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