Kaktovik is quickly securing its place as a premium destination for polar bear photography. As yet, it does not have the tourism infrastructure of Churchill or the variety of activities for visitors but its bear-viewing opportunities, I would say, are on par albeit quite different.
In Churchill, the bears gather each fall, gradually building in numbers as they await the return of the ice and early season seal hunting. Although they forage through the summer, there is a real sense of 'anticipation' in the bears and a wide variety of behaviours as they wait for the … Continue Reading ››
There is no shortage of myths and misconceptions surrounding polar bears and the arctic but possibly the most prevalent are the ideas surrounding walking hibernation. (Actually, I believe that researchers who first coined that word have now backed away from the terms but for now, we'll stick with walking hibernation.)
So, polar bears have this amazing adaptation in which their metabolic rate slows down after about a week or so without food. They remain awake during this 'hibernation' but their body, essentially, is using less resources and this allows them to withstand prolonged periods of fasting. … Continue Reading ››
I woud say the coast near Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge is 'untouched'. Its not 'undiscovered', goose hunters were using this lodge for over thirty years before it evolved into a polar bear viewing destination. Of course, Swampy Cree hunters and trappers have been using this coastline a fair bit longer. Hudson's Bay Company men worked this coast as well in the fur trade; being that we are only a hop, skip and a jump from York Factory National Historic Site, the location of HBC's original logistics and administration centre in Canada.
Nanuk is blessed with a window into … Continue Reading ››
I flew into Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge today, a remote albeit five star lodge along the coast of Cape Tatnum, about an hour flight out of Gillam which was about an eight hour train ride south of Churchill. The goal here is to gather some baseline data and partner with ChurchillWild on a non-invasive bear identification research project. If the first day is any indication, things look like they will work out pretty nicely.
After landing in some classic Hudson Bay autumn rainsleet, the guides and guests settled in for some caribou minestrone, which is as good … Continue Reading ››
Just back from a locations scouting trip to Churchill, the fall colours are peaking - reds, yellows, orange and now the deep blues of 'magic hour' light that comes with October. Just a great time of year up there, although almost every time of year is pretty 'great'.
A fair bit has happened since my last blog. The almost annual visit of Orcas caused quite a stir with folks driving down to the coast and a few brave/crazy souls heading out on zodiacs to photograph and cruise with the pod. The SeaNorth crew got within 10' … Continue Reading ››
Figured I would do a quick roundup of some of the polar bear headlines this summer and take a shot at figuring them out...
Large Waves Recorded in Polar Bear Habitat
Sixteen foot waves have been recorded in the Beaufort Sea in a part of the arctic that was previously covered by multi-year ice. This ice sheet broke apart in 2012 after an arctic cyclone dispersed ice that was already pressure fractured. Again, this event can be evidence of climate change or of natural cycles.
What does this mean for bears? Well, bears don't really like multi-year ice … Continue Reading ››
Beluga season is hitting full-stride up in Churchill, lots of pics being posted on facebook and twitter from the zodiac and snorkelling tours. But, of course, as belugas peak, it also means that the season has just passed its halfway point.
The first beluga whales have shown up near Arviat on their way to northwestern Hudson Bay. The Churchill River is still teeming with whales, of course, but in another three weeks most will be travelling back to their wintering grounds near Repulse Bay and into Hudson Strait
. If a bowhead … Continue Reading ››
After the military started its official withdrawal in 1964, the 'buffer zone' created by the Fort Churchill base was removed. Polar bears soon appeared in the surrounding communities - Churchill, Akudlik and Dene Village. Bears invaded the various garbage dumps and surrounding area. Churchill wasn't really quite sure what to do with them.
It was pretty wild times. Folks would drive out to the dump to watch (and picnic) with the bears. There are more than a few old photos kicking around of a young chap feeding a … Continue Reading ››