The Natural History Museum has chosen 25 of the year’s most incredible images from its Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016 shortlist. Vote for your favourite in the People’s Choice Award here. Online voting open now, until 10 January 2017. And don’t forget to let us know your favourite wildlife photo too via comments below or on social media!

The Natural History Museum chooses from almost 50,000 submissions from 95 countries. Here are some of the most breathtaking images:

Wildlife Photographer of the Year – People’s Choice Award

Facing the storm

Gunther Riehle, Germany

Gunther arrived at the frozen sea ice in Antarctica in sunshine, but by the evening a storm picked up. Initially just strong winds, by the early morning snow had arrived. He concentrated on taking images of the emperor penguin chicks huddled together to shield themselves from the force of the snowstorm.

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Breakfast time

Cari Hill, New Zealand

Shortly after purchasing the Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya, the owners learned that the only remaining Rothschild’s giraffes in the country were at risk, as their sole habitat was being subdivided into smallholdings. So they began a breeding programme to reintroduce the Rothschild’s giraffe into the wild. Today, guests can enjoy visits from resident giraffes in search of a treat.

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Monkey ball

Thomas Kokta, Germany

Cold temperatures on Shodoshima Island, Japan, sometimes lead to monkey balls, where a group of five or more snow monkeys huddle together to keep warm. Thomas observed a large group exhibiting this behaviour close to a tree, giving him the vantage point he needed. A few days and a tree climb later he got the image he desired.

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The blue trail

Mario Cea, Spain

The kingfisher frequented this natural pond every day, and Mario used a high shutter speed with artificial light to photograph it. He used several units of flash for the kingfisher and a continuous light to capture the wake as the bird dived down towards the water.

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Hitching a ride

Daisy Gilardini, Switzerland

This female polar bear was resting with its two young cubs in Wapusk National Park, Manitoba, Canada, when it suddenly got up and rushed downhill through the deep snow. One of the cubs jumped on to her, holding onto her furry backside with a firm bite – totally unexpected and humorous behaviour.

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The stand-off

Michael Lambie, Canada

It was breeding season and all the male turkeys were putting on a show for the females, but a number of birds seemed a little confused. This one was more concerned with the potential suitor in front of it, not realising it was its own reflection.

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Into the night

Karine Aigner, USA

During the summer months, 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats arrive at Bracken Cave in San Antonio, Texas, USA, to give birth and raise their young. Each evening at dusk, the hungry mothers emerge into the night in a vortex, circling out through the entrance and rising into the sky to feed on insects.

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The couple

Sergio Sarta, Italy

During a dive off the coast of Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, Sergio was finning across a volcanic, dark grey, sandy seabed when suddenly, he saw a bright-coloured organism – a fire urchin with an elegant couple of little Coleman shrimps. The fire urchin has quills that are very toxic to humans – the shrimps avoid this danger by seeking out safe areas between the quills.

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Ghostly snow geese

Gordon Illg, USA

These snow geese almost seemed like ghosts in the pink early morning light as they landed among sandhill cranes in the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico, USA. Gordon had no control over the patterns made by the landing geese, all he could do was compose the image around the cranes and keep pushing the shutter button as the geese dropped down.

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The stare of death

Johan Kloppers, South Africa

Johan saw this little wildebeest shortly after it was born in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa. Little did he know that he would witness its death later that same day – the small herd of wildebeest walked right past a pride of lions and the calf was caught by a lioness and then taken by this male lion.

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Tapio Kaisla, Finland

Tapio took a trip to Dovrefjell–Sunndalsfjell National Park, Norway, to find these magnificent oxen amid their natural habitat. Even though spring is not rutting season for these animals, they were already seriously testing their strength against each other and the air rang out with the loud bang of the head-on collision between these two beasts.

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Eye in focus

Ally McDowell, USA/UK

Ally often focuses on colours and patterns underwater. She nearly threw away an image of a fish’s eye but her partner asked to see it and then turned it upside down. It was then that Ally saw it was an unusual, abstract view, and so on a night dive, when the parrotfish were still and sleeping, she focused on creating a similar image.

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Sisters

Bernd Wasiolka, Germany

Bernd encountered a large lion pride at a waterhole in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa. One of the two males spray-marked the branches of a nearby tree. Later two females sniffed the markings and for a brief moment both adopted the same posture.

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Spiral

Marco Gargiulo, Italy

Sabella spallanzanii is a species of marine polychaete, also known as a bristle worm. The worm secretes mucus that hardens to form a stiff, sandy tube that protrudes from the sand. It has two layers of feeding tentacles that can be retracted into the tube, and one of the layers forms a distinct spiral.

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Jelly starburst

Andrea Marshall, USA

Andrea was snorkelling off the coast of Mozambique when she came across hundreds of large jelly fish. Many were covered with brittle stars – opportunistic riders, taking advantage of this transport system to disperse along the coast. Delicate lighting makes the jelly glow, so the viewer can focus on the subtle colours and textures.

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Tasty delicacy

Cristobal Serrano, Spain

The natural world provides countless magical moments, none more so than the delicate moment a tiny, elegant hummingbird softly inserts its slender bill into the corolla of a flower to drink nectar. Cristobal was lucky enough to capture that exact moment in Los Quetzales National Park, San José, Costa Rica.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition showcases Earth’s most extraordinary and revelatory sights; reflecting nature’s beauty and diversity and highlighting the fragility of wildlife on our planet.