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 ››
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 ››
Bears are starting to arrive on shore in larger numbers now. This year it looks to be a bit of a split - with significant numbers coming ashore north of the Churchill River and many still riding the ice far to the south.
Here is an excerpt from ChurchillWild's Seal River blog. Feature image is also couresty of Seal River (www.churchillwild.com)
'Six gorgeous bears spent the day sharing a ringed seal one of them had managed to catch. Said seal made the fatal mistake of falling asleep on a nice warm rock on … Continue Reading ››
(continued from previous post - original article appearing in Smithsonian Magazine - Charles Siebert, June 2014)
“We do not claim that our whale was a good mimic compared to such well-known mimics as parrots or myna birds,” Ridgway’s Current Biology
paper concludes. “However, the sonic behavior we observed is an example of vocal learning by the white whale. It seems likely that Noc’s close association with humans played a role in how often he employed his human voice, as well as in its quality.”
Episodes of animal mimicry have … Continue Reading ››
Here is an article from Smithsonian Magazine (Charles Siebert,
June 2014) about a beluga whale captured by Churchill's whale riders in the 1970s...
The Story of Noc
Millions of years before we humans came along, the earth’s oceans were a vast, unbroken web of whale song. The complex courting arias of humpbacks, the distinct clicking dialects of migrating sperm-whale clans, the congalike poundings of Pacific grays, the multi-thousand-mile moans and blips of massive blue and fin whales conversing across oceans at octaves well below our range of hearing, the nearly nonstop … Continue Reading ››