British Columbia·PHOTOS

Meet the B.C. couple named 'Adventurers of the Year'

Vancouver Island photojournalists Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeir document wildlife from Antarctica to Dubai to spark discussion about preserving the natural world.

Photographers recognized by National Geographic for achievements in conservation

Paul Nicklen tries to blend in during an Antarctic expedition. (Erik Wilhelmsen)

They're not home often, but when they are, Vancouver Island photojournalists Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeir take in the lush Pacific Northwest scenery around them, a landscape they've been working to protect for years.

Then they pack a suitcase and set off for public talks, gallery openings and remote photo shoots, attempting to bring the wonders of the natural world to every corner of the globe.

The couple have been named this year's National Geographic Adventurers of the Year for their conservation work.

Cristina Mittermier dives in the Yucatan. (Cristina Mittermeier)

Coastal rain wolves live on the outer Islands of the B.C, coast.  

"There is a distinct genetic ecotype of wolf that lives on the outer islands of British Columbia," says this photo's caption. "They are true wolves of the sea with a diet made up of 80 per cent seafood and an ability to swim vast distances between these coastal islands."

Wolves on these islands normally eat deer and molluscs, but in recent years they've noticed dogs, leading to the demise of many of these wolves living around coastal towns.

(Paul Nicklen)

A humpback whale feeds on herring off the Norwegian coast.

(Paul Nicklen)

Egg yolk jellyfish in British Columbia's Salish Sea.

The Salish Sea is home to more than 3,000 species and is one of most pristine ocean bodies in the world.

(Cristina Mittermeier)

An American crocodile swims in the mangroves of Cuba.

(Cristina Mittermeier)

An arctic fox listens for mice under the snow.

Concealed by rye grass covered with hoar frost, the fox stalks small rodents.

As the seasons change, so too does the fox's coat, adopting a brown or gray color to blend in with the summer tundra's rocks and plants.

(Paul Nicklen)

Arctic creatures — from the north and south — often struggle to survive long enough to raise their young.

(Cristina Mittermeier)
(Paul Nicklen)

"We don't see ourselves as adventurers. It doesn't take a lot of skill to float in a dry suit under some sea ice," Nicklen said from New York City, where he and Mittermeir recently showcased their work.

The gallery opening brought out 3,000 people, he said, many of them emotional — concerned about losing the wildlife and ecosystems the pair have spent years documenting. 

"People do care," he said.

"Nature is resilient. It wants to recover. It wants to bounce back. We just have to get out of its way."

Mittermier, left, and Nicklen on assignment for National Geographic in the Falkland Islands. (Eric Parker Photography)

With files from CBC Radio One's All Points West