The bear who dared
25 July 2013 – Alkefjellet, Spitsbergen
We were zodiac cruising at Alkefjellet, always a highlight of a cruise around Spitsbergen. Alkefjellet is home to over 100.000 Brunnich’s Guillemots which gives a spectacular buzz of birds flying around, swimming, fighting or rearing their chicks. This time it turned out to be even more spectacular when I got a call over the radio: “I’ve got a Polar Bear, at the end of the cliff”. Time to cut the cruise short, skip half of the cliff and head towards the bear. A bear in combination with the bird cliff, must be good…
Polar Bears normally feed on the pack ice, where they hunt for seals. With the ice retreating in summer, some of them get left behind. With the changing climate, the sea ice breaks up earlier and earlier each year and returns later. When they have a good fat reserve, they may just lay down and wait for the ice to return, but then this takes too long, they have to look for alternative food sources. This bear thought she had found one, the guillemots and the chicks being nearby… She decided to take the dangerous route down the cliff to grab a few bites. At around 60m above sea level, she climbed down the steep slope, making her way to the ledges. She finally made it, grabbing a few chicks before making het way back up again. Looking at the effort it took and the meagre reward she got, it could hardly be worth the risk, but apparently she was getting desperate.
11 November 2015 – Mexico City
Now, why bring up this story again, after I’ve already posted this before? Well, yesterday the award ceremony of the Por el Planeta photo contest took place in Mexico City. Amongst many great photos of many great photographers, this image was specially commended in the category Behaviour. For me a great moment to find my name between such names at such a big event. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it to Mexico, but I’m really honoured.