Intimate photos that provide a rare window into the lives of polar bears, birds and insects have earned several Canadians recognition in this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards.
The winners of the 2021 edition of the annual competition, developed by the Natural History Museum in London were announced Tuesday evening. This year's competition drew 50,000 entries from 95 countries.
The grand prize winner was "Creation" by French underwater photographer and biologist Laurent Ballesta. It features camouflage groupers leaving their annual mating frenzy under a full moon in a lagoon in Fakarava, French Polynesia.
Several Canadians won awards in different categories.
Martin Gregus of Vancouver, B.C., won the Rising Star Portfolio Award, for photos of polar bears enjoying the summer in Hudson Bay, including a mother napping with a cub who is missing a leg and two adult females playing together in the shallow water.
"These bears really did share with us many intimate moments and they shared their story with us," he said. "In doing so, they allowed us to sort of share it with the world.
Gregus and his team of two others were invited by a tourism company to scout out a new area near Churchill, Man., during the tourism lull caused by the pandemic in 2020. "It was an amazing opportunity," he recalled.