'I was blown away,' says N.L. woman behind praying polar bear picture

The Wesleyville photographer behind the praying polar bear picture that is lighting up social media says it's an encounter she'll never forget.

"When I saw it and started taking pictures, I was blown away," said Jessica Andrews, who owns Ocean View Photography in New-Wes-Valley, on Newfoundland's northeast coast.

Andrews had seen an alert early Wednesday warning the public about the polar bear. She came home after work, figuring too much time had passed for her to catch a glimpse. 

She grabbed her binoculars anyway and scanned the area behind her home.

"All of a sudden, he was there in the binoculars and I was shocked at first and then I was like, 'Oh my God! What a beautiful animal!'"

Andrews snapped more than 200 pictures of the polar bear, including the one that has now become a hit on social media. Her album had been shared 600 times on Facebook as of midday Thursday.

"When I edited them, I saw after that he was by the cross. This is the one that people were commenting on and saying that, 'He's praying,'" she told CBC News.

"I didn't realize that I had taken the picture until I started looking through them."

Her only regret?

"If I had the proper lens to capture animals up-close, I mean the picture would have come out beautiful," she said.

The prayerful pose might have ended up as the most popular photo, judging from the attention it has received, but there is another one that tops it for Andrews.

"My favourite one is the one where he is stood up, with his paw on the cross, looking straight at me."

The RCMP is warning people not to approach the polar bear and say they are monitoring the situation along with wildlife officials.