When visiting the Arctic shores of the circumpolar Northern Hemisphere, you enter the Polar Bear’s world. Before the sea ice freezes, Polar Bears cruise the shorelines and islands in search of food, but rely being on the sea ice for their ultimate survival. As they venture and fan out across the frozen sea, they live a relatively lone existence. When the bears congregate into groups, it is called a “celebration” of Polar Bears.
Whaling for subsistence in the Arctic by the Native people often generates “bone piles” which attract large numbers of Polar Bears for brief feasts. While there is conflict between the bears from time to time, they will often tolerate each other during this waiting period, keeping a safe distance from one another.
Sows with cubs are the most vulnerable. They are cautious as the boars will not hesitate to kill a cub. They will remain extremely vigilante and wary around each other, moving away when other bears approach too close. Polar Bears are magnificent animals and demand the utmost respect as they rule their domain … they will hunt man, given the chance. They survive the brutal Arctic winters on a diet of rich blubber and the meat of seals, walrus, Beluga Whales or Narwhals.
The largest Polar Bear of record was a male, shot in 1960 at Kotzebue Sound in northwest Alaska, with a standing height of 11 feet, 1 inch and weighing an amazing 2,209 pounds. Surely there are even larger!
All images © Dave Parkhurst www.TheAlaskaCollection.com