We spent two very full days on the tundra, learning more about it and its inhabitants each day. Polar bears thrive on a diet of ringed seals, which live in Hudson's Bay year 'round (and elsewhere where polar bears abound) but the bears can only access them from the ice surface, in other words, they can gorge themselves on this nutritious food source only from November through about June each year--unless a seal is serendipitously delivered up to them on the beach before ice-up. It does happen; given the windstorms we were experiencing, I would guess by the looks of it, this poor guy apparently had had a fatal head-on bash against a rock.
|Ringed seal, favorite polar bear food, named for the distinctive spots on its hide.|
|A polar bear tests the air in an effort to locate the odoriferous seal carcass about 75 or|
100 yards in our direction.
|Same hungry bear, circling the source|
More bears out there, everywhere:
|A nice big bear heads toward the fully liquid Hudson's Bay; less than a month later the Bay was frozen and the bears had left the tundra.|
Other critters we might have seen, but did not happen to: arctic fox, arctic hare, boreal woodland caribou, and moose. And very, very remotely possibly, wolves. What we did see, in town near the docks (on Cape Merry) rather than out on the tundra, was this stunning red fox, described as being "cross phase" meaning, I believe, that it combined red and silver fur patterns in one animal:
And of course, the presence of fox means a plenitude of small rodents year 'round. It gave me the feeling that there's so much more going on out there that I wanted to know about!
|Go to Part V.|