Ice and bear situation

When I’m heading up north the big questions always are what the ice and bears will look like this year. I’ve been looking at ice charts for a while, judging the situation. In January I was quite shocked by the extremely small amount of ice. There was no connection between the Polar pack and the mainland of Spitsbergen. This connection is very important for pregnant Polar Bears as they have to want to feed on the sea ice, but have to get to land in autumn in order to make a snow den for reproduction. Without any ice the bears have to swim (if they know in what direction to go), which will cost a lot of energy. Energy they need for raising their cubs. I doubt (m)any cubs have been raised this winter around Spitsbergen…

20160704_Arjen_Drost_10485-Edit
Polar Bear on pack ice

The ice situation now has improved a lot. Too late for pregnant females, but now there is a lot of ice around the north and east coast. Good news for bears, as they can roam freely from land to ice. For us it means it will limit us in the places we can go, but it also means we have a greater opportunity of finding bears on ice, something very high on the guests wish list.

Things like this always make a visit to the high Arctic very exciting (or sad sometimes). You will never know what to expect.

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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