Here’s a polar bear photo from my trip to the arctic last month. Given the predicament bears in the Beaufort Sea find themselves in (declines in accessible food due climate change), I thought the image a particularly relevant one.
Polar bears are classified as marine mammals, not, like their darker coated brethren to the south, mammals who earn their living on good old terra firma. Polar bears hunt, almost exclusively seals, and particularly 2 species of seals; primarily ringed seals (Phoca hispida) and less often, bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus). That alone makes polar bears particularly susceptible to population declines; any animal whose primary food source s merely one or 2 other species is somewhat vulnerable. This applies no less to herbivores who may exist on one or 2 types of plants. A crash (or boost) in the abundance of their food source will have an enormous impact on the population of their own species; a look at the lynx and the snowshoe hare cycles illustrates this.
So climate change has shifted the world for the polar bear; here’s a quick, and rough, summary of how.
The most productive waters in the arctic ocean are under sea ice, in the shallower areas over the continental shelf. Deeper water doesn’t hold light as well, and so tiny little critters like plankton and what not don’t do as well. They feed on the algae that grows and collects on the bottom of the sea ice. So where the plankton population is higher, so too is the population of the little critters that feed on plankton; shrimp and such. Fish eat shrimp, and bigger fish and regular size fish, and seals eat bigger fish. Where there’s no sea ice, there’s no algae growing. And if there’s no algae, no plankton, no shrimp, no regular size fish, no big fish, no seals and, you guessed it, skinny, hungry polar bears swimming around wondering why they can’t find any food. Read the rest of this entry … »
Huge congratulations to all those who did so well in the recent BBC and Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. Overall winner Greg du Toit has a remarkable image in “Essence of Elephants”. The winners of all the various categories should be proud of some fantastic photography.
I saw an interview with Paul Souders, winner of the “Animals in their Environment” category on BBC here. Congrats to Paul for an incredible image, and a great job in the interview. Paul deserves huge kudos for getting out their, on his own, and doing the work. He doesn’t simply trek off to a well known and much favored hot spot and follow the hordes with their long lenses to do his photography. Sure, Churchill is one of the great polar bear photography meccas, but no tundra buggy and over-sized group for his trip. Just himself, his boat and hours upon hours of exploration trying to find a subject; it’s worth noting Paul spent over a week on his trip and saw only 2 polar bears, after spending 12-14 hours riding up to 30 miles a day on the ocean; the first of the 2 promptly raced off never to be seen again.
This should be inspirational to so many of us who do this work. We don’t need a dozen bears in the vicinity, and we don’t need to follow the footsteps of the masses and we don’t need to shoot gigabytes of images to make a great image. We need to be creative, diligent and persistent. And, of course, having your own boat doesn’t hurt either!
Just returned from a week on the Katmai Coast, photographing the great brown bears of the coastal region; and about a thousand gulls along with them! We had a nice time, a mix of weather, some good and bad luck with the photography, but a good trip overall. The ladies from England were a blast to shoot with, tons of fun; we laughed and laughed for the whole week, enjoying some great time together; great food, great accommodation, scenery, wildlife and fun. Just what a photo trip should be.
This bear was one of a few we saw in Kinak Bay, just north of Geographic Harbor. The Silver Salmon were running thick in this little creek, and the fishing was at time fast and furious. Great to see. Read the rest of this entry … »
Heading out again shortly to spend some time photographing the Alaska coastal brown bear. Should be a blast, as always, and I really am looking forward to getting back over to the Alaska Peninsula and Coastline there to see these amazing animals. It’s always a blast to shoot brown bear photos.
I haven’t seen as many bears this summer as what I typically might; I think with the (generally) warmer weather we had they tended to stay a little less active in the daytime than normal, but that’s just a hunch. Could be any number of reasons.
We’ll see how this week goes, and I’ll try to catch up when I return.
PS: Oh, and I FINALLY got this little Google Plus widget to work again (in the sidebar); if you haven’t added me to your G+ circles, now’s the perfect time!
Sorry for not keeping up with the blog these last few months. Blogging regularly is hard; really hard. Sometimes I’m busy, or behind with my image editing, and sometimes, to put it simply, I’m just not that impassioned about it.
I’d like to be more disciplined about posting regularly, and more inspired to keep up with my own photography more consistently as well as that of others I enjoy, but sometimes, I think, the world of the internet is so overwhelming it’s easier to switch off and disengage than try to keep up and follow everything that flies by. I’ve probably missed hundreds of great posts around the web, I’m sure, but if that’s the worst of my recompense, well, things aren’t too bad I suppose.
Here’s a photo of the northern lights from last March. Ya gotta love the northern lights, no?