02/15/2013 12:43 EST | Updated 04/17/2013 05:12 EDT

World Press Photo 2012: Canadian Paul Nicklen Wins Nature Stories Prize (PHOTOS)

In this photo provided on Friday Feb. 15, 2013 by World Press Photo, the 1st prize Nature Stories by Paul Nicklen, Canada, for National Geographic magazine shows Emperor Penguins, even though they have evolved an incredibly advanced bubble physiology the greatest challenge they face is the loss of sea ice that supports their colonies and ecosystem. New science shows that Emperor Penguins are capable of tripling their swimming speed by releasing millions of bubbles from their feathers. These bubbles reduce the friction between their feathers and the icy seawater, allowing them to accelerate in the water. They use speeds of up to 30 kilometers per hour to avoid leopard seals and to launch themselves up onto the ice, Ross Sea, Antarctica, Nov. 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Nicklen, National Geographic magazine)
AMSTERDAM, N.Y. - A Canadian has been awarded the top prize in one of the categories in the 2012 World Press Photo contest.

Paul Nicklen's photographs of Emperor Penguins in Antarctica's Ross Sea for National Geographic magazine took first place in the Nature Stories category.

The Vancouver Island resident specializes in photographing polar regions and has won top honours in the same category before.

World Press Photo, one of photojournalism's most prestigious contests, issued awards Friday in nine categories to 54 photographers of 32 nationalities.

Swedish photographer Paul Hansen won the photo of the year award for newspaper Dagens Nyheter with a picture of the funeral procession for two Palestinian children killed in an Israeli missile strike.

The picture shows a group of men marching the dead bodies through a narrow street in Gaza City. The victims, a brother and sister, are wrapped in white cloth with only their faces showing.

The contest drew entries from professional press photographers, photojournalists and documentary photographers across the world. In all, 103,481 images were submitted by 5,666 photographers from 124 countries.

An awards ceremony and exhibit will be held in Amsterdam in April.

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2012 World Press Photo Award Winners