2010-07-17_sallyhamna _571
Polar Bears at a dead whale

Polar Bears are solitary animals normally. Apart from mothers with cubs the only time you see them together is at a large (whale) carcass or during mating season. So interactions between different bears are rare. This year a carcass of a large whale was one of the main attractions of all expedition cruise ships. Many bears gathered there for a long time. When we were approaching the site, we saw already five bears at the other site of the mountain. Two mothers with a cub each and an individual bear, but all at quite a large distance. When we saw the dead whale, one male bear was feeding on it. Early in the season the whale was frozen into the ice, making it easier for more bears to feed on it. Now the ice had melted, the carcass was floating in the water, partly above, partially below the water. The bear was diving under water, trying to get a piece of the whale. Nearby a female was sleeping. Normally it is really hard to see if a bear is male or female, but as this one was satellite collared, it was really easy. Due to the smaller neck/larger head of the females, they can be satellite collared. Males have a too thick neck, causing the collar to fall off. The male and female are clearly interacting, sniffing each other out.

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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