The Iconic Polar Bears

It has always been a dream of my to see polar bears in the wild.  This is one of the animals that I clearly remember from my first visits to the Copenhagen Zoo more than 50 years ago!  During my recent trip to Spitsbergen in the high arctic a few months ago, I had an unique opportunity to observe these great creatures.

As you can see below even in the summertime this habitat is not too friendly.

During our 2-week sailing trip around Spitsbergen I was priviledged to see a total of 14 polar bears, some at a long distance, but others within easy  ‘shooting’ distance of my Nikon 600mm lens.

For thousands of years, the polar bear has been a key figure in the material, spiritual, and cultural life of the Arctic Indigenous people, and the polar bear remain an important part of their culture.

Polar bears are the largest terestrial carnivore, being more than twice the size of the Siberian tiger, and the male can grow to a length of 3 meters.

Polar bears swin using their large fron paws to propel themselves through the water, and their back legs to steer.  This image was taken at 2 am in the morning when this individual was swimming around in the same bay, where we had anchored up for the night.  Polar bears have been known to swim more than 150 km in one stretch!



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