I am honoured and proud to share that my picture “Polar Pas de Deux” is the winner of the category black and white of the photography contest “The Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017” organised by the Natural History museum in London.
From our ship, anchored in the icy waters off Svalbard, in Arctic Norway, I spotted a Polar bear and her two-year-old cub in the distance. When they became aware of the ship they started drawing closer presumably driven by curiosity and certainly by hunger.Polar bears are known mainly as hunters, mainly of seals – they can smell prey from nearly a kilometre (0.6 miles) away and up to a metre (3 feet) under snow – but they are also opportunists. Nearing the ship, they were diverted to a patch of snow soaked in leakage from the vessel’s kitchen and began to lick it. I was ashamed of our contribution to the immaculate landscape and of how this influenced the bears’ behaviour Mirroring each other, with back legs pressed together (cub pictured right), they tasted the stained snow in synchrony. Such broad paws (up to 30 centimetres (12 inches) across) make fine swimming paddles and help the bears to tread on thin ice. Their impressive non-retractable claws (more than 5 centimetres (2 inches) long) act like ice picks for better grip. Mindful of the species’ shrinking habitat – climate change is reducing the Artic sea ice on which the bears depend – I framed my shot tightly, choosing black and white to reflect the pollution as a shadow cast on the pristine environment.
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards ceremony | Black & White Category
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