Sleeping beauty

For Polar Bears the summer of 2017 was great. There was a lot of sea ice for a long time very close to land. This meant most bears could get to the sea ice and hunt for seals for most of the summer. Most bears we saw this season were well fed, in contrast to previous years. Towards the end of summer the ice was getting breaking up more and more of course and was getting a bit further away from land. This meant some bears, like this female, did get stuck on land. Not unusual and even a strategy for some bears. Some bears stay within the same fjord system all their life. And when the ice is gone and they get stuck, they just live on their fat reserves and wait for the ice and food to return. In this time they don’t move a lot, sleep or rest most of the time so they don’t use a lot of energy. The only problem with this strategy in recent years is that the ice is breaking up earlier and earlier and is returning later and later. Because of this their fat reserves are not enough anymore to get them through summer until the ice returns.

“No more pictures please”

This bear was doing exactly that: using as little energy as possible. Even though there was a small fleet of zodiacs not that far from her, she kept sleeping. The only response we occasionally got was her lifting her head to look at us. Often too short for the photographers to pick up the camera and take a few pictures. It is always difficult to say with a sleeping bear, but she looked to be in a good condition. Not surprising, as there has been ice in ‘her’ fjord until a month before this picture. So she had a lot of time to get fat and now she’s hoping for a quick return of the ice.

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.


  • Hi Arjen
    It was a pleasure to be with you, observing this beautiful she-bear.
    Astonishing: one hundred tourists in absolute quietness for over an hour! Interrupted only by the clicking of one hundred cameras 🙂
    Thanks for having changed the program and taken “Plan B” once more.
    Hans-Peter + Verena Frei

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome, Hans-Peter and Verena. It was a very special moment indeed. One of the most relaxed bears I’ve ever seen. And yes, plan B’s (or C, D, E of F) are always part of the game…
      Cheers, Arjen


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