Author Topic: Polar Bears  (Read 1059 times)

Cindy Miller Hopkins

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Polar Bears
« on: September 19, 2010, 04:14:47 PM »
Polar Bears Ö the long summer wait.

Iíve just had the privilege to visit two VERY remote locations in the Canadian Arctic in Nunavut, Canada. To be more specific, for those interested in looking at a map, we were in the Lower Savage Islands (located between Frobisher Bay & Hudson Strait) as well as well as in the Qikiqtaaluk Region, at Akpatok Island, (The largest uninhabited island in the Ungava Bay.) What makes both these locations special, is that they tend to be good place to find stranded polar bears.

What I mean when I say stranded, is that after the spring ice melts, polar bears get stranded too far out to sea to swim to the mainland. Even though polar bears are officially classified as marine mammals and can swim over 100 miles, if they HAVE to, often thatís not far enough to get from the melting pack ice to land. Thus, itís very common to find them stranded on remote islands in arctic Canada.

While ďstuck,Ē they are often forced to go without food for 4-5 months, living only on their stored fat (OK, no comments about how long I could live on my fat reserves after a cruise but I bet I could give that bear a run for its money!) When on land, they will eat grass, kelp, scavenge on dead birds (or whatever they can find!) but thatís like us trying to survive on a jelly bean for 3 weeks. So, the bears that we saw were a bit skinny and dirty, but impressive never the less.

Note: shooting was a bit tricky ...shooting from a small zodiac with high seas ... at a bear well away on the beasch ... used 300mm f4 and 80-400 Nikon ... tossed out about 60%!

keithsnell

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Re: Polar Bears
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2010, 04:17:06 PM »
Very interesting series of images Cindy.  It sounds like you are having an amazing experience.  Thank you for letting us share in your adventure.

Keith

Cindy Miller Hopkins

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Re: Polar Bears
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2010, 07:16:55 AM »
It has been very interesting in deed. We have been lucky to see polar bears in Churchill several times, but this is very different. It took us 3 hours in a zodiac just to find one bear. They are eating lots of kelp at this point and, if lucky, a dead bird once in a while. It is hard to think that they will continue to do this for another 4-8 weeks until the the ice forms and they can once again hunt seals from the ice pack. We are traveling with two polar specialists and have talks almost every day about them, so it's sorta like going back to school  ::) (But without any tests!)

keithsnell

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Re: Polar Bears
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2010, 07:19:15 AM »
What a wonderful experience.  And awesome that the scientists are there to help people understand the issues.

Where to next?

Keith

Cindy Miller Hopkins

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Re: Polar Bears
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2010, 07:27:43 AM »
Today we are at sea sailing down the Labrador coast on the way to Hopedale, Canada. We are looking for whales, but no luck this morning yet. We have another good day with some sun peaking out of the clouds. At Hopedale we will visit some more important Viking ruins and sites. Possible wildlife sightings are whales, seals, lots of birds, but any more polar bear sightings would be rare in this area. Another week to go ... home for 2 weeks ... then off to Europe with my sister  ;D

Have a great time in Yellowstone!