The rare sight of a polar bear feeding on a caribou carcass, which probably fell through the ice. The polar bear tends to swallow food in large chunks rather than chewing and its digestive system is very efficient, absorbing more than 80 per cent of the protein and 97 per cent of the fat it eats. Its liver has such high concentrations of vitamin A that it is toxic to humans.
Churchill – Photo Tip

Capturing true natural beauty in Churchill

Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Churchill – Photo Tip Capturing true natural beauty in Churchill

I came to Churchill with high expectations. I was expecting snow-covered tundra with lots of polar bears in their dens playing with their cubs, like stepping straight into a wildlife documentary.

Jochem Wijnands
Jochem Wijnands Founder / photographer

It turned out to be quite the opposite. Churchill's tundra was brown and muddy. It’s a semi desert with very little rainfall. The Tundra Buggies all move around on a small area and there are always other buggies in sight.

But after my initial disappointment I started to see the beauty of this wild place. There were at least twenty polar bears roaming the area, waiting for the water to freeze over. Every day, every hour, something happened.

I thought bears were solitary creatures but to see them interact socially was really phenomenal to see. On the third day in Churchill we came across two young males who had just killed a caribou that had become stuck in the ice, something rarely witnessed before.

We stayed with them for the rest of the day and saw how the pair ate the caribou, fighting off other bears but shared the meat between themselves. It was their lucky day as well as ours.

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Male bear feeding on a caribou carcass. The polar bears that come ashore after the ice melts in Hudson Bay each summer enter a state called walking hibernation, saving energy by reducing their metabolic rate and recycling proteins. However, as the season stretches longer with climate change, it becomes vital that they find food to survive. Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Jochem Wijnands

Jochem Wijnands

Nikon D2X

Aperture
ƒ/5.6
Exposure
1/640
ISO
250
Focal
600 mm

Male bear feeding on a caribou carcass. The polar bears that come ashore after the ice melts in Hudson Bay each summer enter a state called walking hibernation, saving energy by reducing their metabolic rate and recycling proteins. However, as the season stretches longer with climate change, it becomes vital that they find food to survive.

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