A select team of judges have chosen the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards from London’s Natural History Museum (NHM), but now the crowd have spoken with their pick for the People's Choice Award: a blue kingfisher streaking into the water, taken with split-second precision, at a pond in Salamanca, north-western Spain.
Spanish photographer Mario Cea was the winner of the People's Choice Award, after nearly 25,000 people voted for his image among 25 other images pre-selected by the NHM.
“This picture took about five months, 5,000 attempts and a huge amount of preparation to achieve,” said Mario. “I observed this particular kingfisher for a long time and visited the location regularly for five months. The bird repeatedly hunted in the same spot several times – a small bend in a shallow pond with a high concentration of fish. My understanding of the bird's natural behavior and hunting routines was essential in achieving the shot.”
"The incredible speed of the bird means the movement is almost invisible to the human eye, so I had to use lighting to both illuminate the image and freeze movement," he added. "I think one of the reasons people like this image is the palpable trail of light the bird leaves behind."
His image will now join the other winners at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum, which runs until September 10, 2017.
You can see a full-size version of Mario's photograph, as well as the Overall Winner of the competition by Tim Laman, below. Make sure you check out the rest of this year’s winners here.
Mario Cea/Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards
A Bornean orangutan climbing high in Gunung Palung National Park. Tim Laman, from USA/Wildlife Photographer of the Year