Polar Bear leftovers​

On the same day as the stunning sunset, we also found a Polar Bear on an ice floe. There were only two problems. First of all, this bear was miles away. When I came to the bridge, the Expedition Leader explained to me where to look and asked me to keep an eye on it through the binoculars, as his eyes were hurting from all the staring already. In the dense pack ice, we couldn’t make good speed, so it took a while before we got anywhere near the bear. Now the second problem came into play, Polar Bears on Greenland are much more shy as those on Spitsbergen. For a good reason as Ittoqqortoormiit is nearby and around 30 bears are shot each year from that settlement alone. So a bear that isn’t shy in that area will be dead pretty soon.

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Hooded Seal pup, killed by a bear

 

For us, however, this makes it a lot easier to show Polar Bears to our guests, as this bear nicely showed. At one point, we lost the bear from our sight, and we never found it again anymore. We still decided to lower the zodiacs to cruise in between the sea ice, which is an extraordinary experience anyhow. During my final look from the bridge, I noticed a red ice floe, most likely the floe where we had seen the bear on. During the zodiac cruise, I tried to find this floe again, and with success. Indeed, it turned out to be the one where the bear had been, as there were the left-overs of the last meal of the Polar Bear. A Hooded Seal pup had apparently not been paying too much attention and was caught by a bear, who had nicely taken it apart. As Polar Bears are quite messy eaters, a large part of the floe had turned red. Quickly all boats came over to have a look at this unique sight.

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Hooded Seal pup, killed by a bear

The bear, however, never showed up anymore. Not that there was anything left for him at this carcass, he had already nicely cleaned it all.

 

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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