Thinking of Polar Bears
Look at this amazing photo by Kevin Schafer:
We were looking for ice… Although most of the sea ice had already retreated north from the islands of Svalbard [Arctic Norway] – as much as 6 weeks earlier than “normal” – there remained a few patches in the shallow bays and inlets along Hinlopen Strait. Here, in Vaigattbogen bay, we encountered no less than 8 bears, trying to hunt for seals on the last patches of ice. Once the ice is gone, so are the seals, and the bears’ last chance to eat until the sea freezes again this fall.
Then, against the far shore, we spotted a mother bear with her young cub, sitting on an ice flow. We didn’t dare approach too quickly so just watched from a considerable distance. Then, to our astonishment, she entered the water, carrying her cub on her back for the short swim to shore. It was a wonderful sight, something that I – after 25 years traveling to the Arctic – had never seen before. Neither had anyone else on board, many wirth [sic]vastly more experience than I have.
Although it is tempting to see the picture as a symbol of global warming, that’s probably misleading. Having said that, both the mother and cub have been left behind on land by the receding sea ice much earlier than “normal” , and will not likely have anything to eat until the freeze-up in the autumn – several months away. This cub may not survive the wait.
Ugh. Kind of hits you right in the gut, huh?
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