Today is mothers day. For this day, I looked up my nicest mother-kids picture. Taken in 2004, still on slides. In nature there is no Mothers Day. The young are dependent on (at least one of) the parents for a while when they’re young. Then mother leaves them and the kids are all on their own.

In Polar Bears the cubs are born around Christmas and stay for 2.5 years with the mother. During this time, the mother protects the cubs against danger (e.g. male Polar Bears) and teaches them all the necessary skills they need to survive on their own. Meanwhile she has to find enough food to feed herself and her cubs. Not an easy task. Most often Polar Bears give birth to twins (like in this picture of two 7 month old cubs). Often one of these cubs dies the first year. Due to all the good care by the mother the surviving cubs get the best possible start when they is on their own.

This picture is taken during one of my most special moments with Polar Bears. We were in a Zodiac at one of my favorite places on Spitsbergen, looking out over a frozen bay. Suddenly I saw something move. My first impression was an Arctic Fox in winter coat, something not very logical in the middle of summer. When I put my Zodiac in neutral and had a look through my bins, I realized it was a mother with two young cubs. We could follow them along the shores for 45 minutes. The mother was looking cautiously at us sometimes, but apparently thought we didn’t pose any threat as she just continued walking as she was all the time. The cubs were just running after her, playing, picking up things, exploring their world.

Ten days later, I was back again at the same place. This time with my mother. The ice had gone, the family too. Even though I’m still really glad that I could share the Arctic experience with my mother.

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

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