• polar bears

    Photo: Jonathan Huyer

Charles Darwin once said,"The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.” After sorting through the thousands of submissions to this year's Wildlife Photography of the Year competition, all of which reflect Canadians' deep respect and admiration for our native species, we'd have to agree. 

There were many amazing photographs, and picking a top few was tough for our judges. The 2016 winners are delightful in their variety, technical skill and creativity. They made us laugh, wonder and remark on the amazing biodiversity within Canada. Below, the judges (Javier Frutos, Roger Bull and Nina Stavlund) have written a few words about what attracted them to the winning photos. See the runner-ups and honourable mentions on the competition site

Thank you to everyone who entered and shared your photos with us. We can't wait to see the spectacular images you produce next year.

Winner: Things With Wings

Photo: Bill Maynard

Javier Frutos: An elegant composition and a great choice for a black and white photo. The combination of excellent light and time of day give this photo a unique mood.

Roger Bull: “Swans in the Mist” or “Close Encounters of the Swan Kind?" There is something cinematic about this image and I love movies, these beautiful birds, and this photo.

Nina Stavlund: A perfect image in black and white and quite magical with the birds quietly gliding on the water in the mist. I really like how the birds are partly obscured by the fog. This would look good on any wall!

Winner: Little Life

Photo: Tibor Nagy

JF: This photo was taken at the perfect moment. The sharp detail, the fact that both animals can be clearly recognized, and the insect's open wings make this a striking image.

RB: Colour, texture, shapes, and a story of life and death: this image has them all. And those spidery eyes! I can’t look away from them and they don’t look away from you.

NS: How often do you see an adorable fluffy spider? This is the one! I love the colours, focus and depth of field in this image, in addition to the catch light in all the eyes. It's crystal clear, with great overall lighting. What drew me in was the direct eye-contact with the spider. Fantastic macro photography.

Winner: Animals in Action

Photo: Jonathan Huyer

JF: Great composition and the sense of scale make this photo a truly iconic Canadian scene that showcases the polar bear's fragile habitat.

RB: This photo hypnotizes me with its superreal beauty. The crisp blue lines of the ice draw me in and then I notice with surprise the polar bear sentries. Stunning.

NS: This is a fabulous image perfectly portraying big animals in action, in their natural habitat. The composition is spot on and the colours come together beautifully. What I like the most is the light falling on the polar bears, and their placement on the (iceberg) mountain.

Winner: Watery Wildlife

Photo: Sam Edmonds

JF: Perfect shutter speed at the right moment. A great action capture showing a true natural wildlife shot.

RB: A great deal of movement is captured in this avian tableau. I love the blurred backdrop of winged activity and the colours of the foreground surf scoters.

NS: Just witnessing this 'mooter' of surf scoters explode into the air from the water's surface must have been an awesome sight. The sheer number of birds in this image is fantastic to see, and the photographer perfectly captured the flock taking off with lots of action and water splash. You almost feel like you're there!

Winner: Youth

Photo: Iain Leitch

JF: Great colour balance and textures and the neutral blurred background make this photo a strong winner.

RB: This slow and steady photo won the race. I like the quiet simplicity of this image, but there is more to think about than a snail’s journey. This is also a juxtaposition of the natural and manufactured worlds.

NS: This is such a simple image where less is much more! What made this image for me is the vertical format. It's also a clean, minimalistic image. The cute little snail on its adventure along a rusty pipe is quite appealing.