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SVALBARD 2013: III. Two Polar Bears - siblings or couple, game or courtship?
Views: 160921.9.2013 17:29:24
Only now, while I'm writing down some notes of the previous day (17th July) I realize how overwhelmed I had been by yesterday's action, with how much intuition I took the photos, in kind of a haze of excitement, without any regards to the equipment. Cameras, lenses, converters - I switched and combined them together till the bayonets creaked in can-opening style. I wonder I haven't damaged any of the equipment or haven't dropped anything in the Greenland Sea.

To remain at least a bit detached in those few afternoon hours was probably impossible.

Polar Bear. Svalbard. Norway.


Two Polar Bears! That alone is a rarity - they are utterly solitary animals. And they've caught themselves a prey. A little way from the resting bears there on the float lies a half-way-eaten seal. Roy, a biologist, photographer, and polar nature expert realizes right away: these bears are not leaving. As long as we are reasonable, not "pushing in", they are going to stay until the seal is consumed. We grasp the opportunity. To the Zodiac! Don't forget to take everything with you! if someone wanted to go back for anything, he would probably ended next to the seal, as an offering from the photographers.

Polar Bear. Svalbard. Norway.


It's sunny, around five degrees, no wind and the ice broken. The surface of the Greenland Sea is calm like that of a pond. Ideal conditions. Moreover the light changes during the shooting as if we've had ordered it: sunny, overcast, backlight, soft pinkish haze of the sun low over the sea, even cold blue light, almost like at night.

I'm not sure until today whether the two bears have been siblings or a couple. To be honest it didn't occur to me at that time that they could have been a couple. I thought they are siblings. They didn't differ much in size, though one was bigger, they could have been male and female - siblings. Also the Polar Bears mating season is usually over by July. And last but not least I unconsciously dismissed the thought of a couple simply because I didn't think I could have been so lucky.

Polar Bear. Svalbard. Spitzbergen. Norway.


The bears are resting, consuming the seal, playing with the seal skin, bathing and also fighting on the float and in the sea, they are hiding under the floats only to emerge in a while and surprise each other. They behave to each other, I don't like using these antrophomorphisms, biologiests forgive me, almost touchingly gently. Gently and a bit violently at once (nice idea). And they like it, they enjoy it. They are obviously content, one might say happy. I wouldn't have expected such behaviour from siblings. So can it be a couple after all?

Polar Bear. Svalbard. Spitzbergen. Norway.


It's irrelevant at the moment whether they are siblings or a couple. Under my hat my ears are bound to be red from excitement, I press the release in opportunist's (how fitting) effort to catch what I can, feeling sure that this is a special treat. The others aboard of the Zodiac are all of sudden opportunists too, something that wasn't obvious before, during lunchtime, and so it's quite difficult to keep the horizon horizontal in the pictures, to honour composition at least sometimes, not to drop teleconvertor, camera or lenses into the salty puddle formed on the Zodiac's floor. And also to enjoy yourself. Enjoy it in another way than only through the camera's eye.

Polar Bear. Svalbard. Spitzbergen. Norway.


And it doesn't matter even now, in what relationship those bears are. The couple impersonates, generalizes polar bears in the way we tend to know them: strong and playful, dangerous and cute, somehow "pure" and blooded, clumsy and gentle... I know, I know, but it's difficult to avoid these comparisons.

Polar Bear. Svalbard. Spitzbergen. Norway.


Or simple and clear: by a caught seal (supposedly Pusa hispida) a male polar bear (Ursus maritimus) had met a female of its kind, capable of pregnancy. The male recognized her ability, it was ready to mate, but the female had instinctively been trying out the male's fitness before the act.

After all, they would part very soon, one way or another...


Polar Bear. Svalbard. Spitzbergen. Norway.


Polar Bear. Svalbard. Spitzbergen. Norway.


Polar Bear. Svalbard. Spitzbergen. Norway.


Polar Bear. Svalbard. Spitzbergen. Norway.


Polar Bear. Svalbard. Spitzbergen. Norway.



Bohdan Nemec, Greenland Sea and Pilsen, July/August 2013

Translation by Tereza Nemcova, gwareth.tn@gmail.com


Coming next: Lågøya Island - Walruses and I on the Eightieth Parallel, or else - I'll write about bears some more
Comments on article 'SVALBARD 2013: III. Two Polar Bears - siblings or couple, game or courtship?'
Comment 1-7 / 7
9.7.2014 16:18:48
Dan Houdek
Dobrý den pene Němec,viděl jsem včera v plzeńské ZOO Vaše fotografie ledních medvědů na velkých zvětšeninách CeWe, našel jsem si raději web stránky a jsem unešen, nádherné záběry a edit!
14.7.2014 19:47:49
Bohdan Němec
Dane, děkuji vám za shlédnutí výstavy i webu. Výstava je jaká je. Jsem si vědom, že forma prezentace není ono - plátno je prostě materiál pro jiný typ fotek, vím... A děkuji za ocenění. Bohdan
9.9.2013 10:17:48
Vladimír Šebík
Zdravím, parádní fotky i příběh člověka to hodně vtáhne!
9.9.2013 09:43:38
Vladimír Šebík
Zdravím, parádní fotky i příběh člověka to hodně vtáhne!
4.9.2013 00:14:36
Michal Mašík
Krásné. První fotka je super.
1.9.2013 22:35:37
Karel Černý
Krásné fotky. Opravdu zachycen medvědí příběh! Gratuluji! Jak byli medvědi od Tebe daleko?
1.9.2013 23:51:26
Bohdan Němec
Jejej, děkuji! Ještě nějaké fotky medvědů jsem si nechal v zásobě :-). Medvědi byli střídavě tak asi od 50ti do 10m.
Comment 1-7 / 7
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