|Our first Polar Bear Encounter
July 29, 2010
It was our second morning on the S. S. Stockholm. I had gone out on deck with another passenger when he saw something
swimming in the water. I went down to my cabin to get my camera and Jackie. It was then that Jackie got excited and yelled out,
"There is a polar bear." We quickly called out to our fellow passengers who came up to see this event. By this time, we realized
that there were two polar bears. Adam, our guide, then came up and explained to us that the ship had anchored here early in
the morning because this was the location of a fin whale carcass. The fin whale had died the previous year, but at low tide the
bears would come down to feed on what was still left of the carcass under the water.
After breakfast, the tide was lower and all eleven of us and Adam got into the Zodiac to look for polar bears. Soon we saw a
mother polar bear and her first year cub come walking down to the water where the whale carcass resided.
Now we had three polar bears. A
young male bear plus mama and baby.
As mama waited for the tide to go
down further, she started to chew on
the whale bone. This did not seem to
make much sense to us until Adam
explained that whale bone is full of
marrow and is thus more nutritious
than we thought.
The young male bear knew he was no
competition for the big mama bear, so
he wandered into the water where he
remained for the next couple hours.
Then to the amazement of our guide, another mother showed up with a cub. We now had the spectacle of five polar bears
including two mothers and two young cubs. This, we were told, was an extraordinary sighting both as to the number of polar
bears at one time as well as getting to see such young cubs..
One of the mothers went into the water and fetched some whale meat. Suddenly, we had a confrontation between the two
mothers--just the kind of confrontation one expected to see on the Discovery Channel.
The confrontation soon ended and the three adults went back to eating with the young male continuing to keep a respectful
distance in the water.
Eventually, one of the mother bears had enough and walked up the hill to a rock to rest.
The other cub found a piece of ice and had a great time playing on it while his mother finished eating.
Soon mama bear number two was fully fed and she hiked up to the snow to take a nap and baby left his ice to follow mama.
But baby still had
some play left in him
before he settled down
beside mama bear.
With the two mamas off to nap, the young male was free to come out of the water and do some whale bone chewing of his own.
What a great start for our first polar bear encounter!