Picture of the Month


July 2012




POLAR BEAR "Piggy-back"

(Ursus maritimus)




We were looking for ice... Although most of the sea ice had already retreated north from the islands of Svalbard - as much as 6 weeks earlier than "normal" - there remained a few patches in the shallow bays and inlets along Hinlopen Strait. Here, in Vaigattbogen bay, we encountered no less than 8 bears, trying to hunt for seals on the last patches of ice. Once the ice is gone, so are the seals, and the bears' last chance to eat until the sea freezes again this fall.

Then, against the far shore, we spotted a mother bear with her young cub, sitting on an ice flow. We didn't dare approach too quickly so just watched from a considerable distance. Then, to our astonishment, she entered the water, carrying her cub on her back for the short swim to shore. It was a wonderful sight, something that I - after 25 years traveling to the Arctic - had never seen before. Neither had anyone else on board, many wirth vastly more experience than I have.

Although it is tempting to see the picture as a symbol of global warming, that's probably misleading. Having said that, both the mother and cub have been left behind on land by the receding sea ice much earlier than "normal" , and will not likely have anything to eat until the freeze-up in the autumn - several months away. This cub may not survive the wait.

Meanwhile, this is the actual image from my camera - which required considerable enlargement!



The picture, meanwhile, has quickly gone global via Facebook, and appeared within 24 hours in newspapers worldwide.



Nikon D800 with 300mm f2.8 lens and TC14x Teleconverter


Life, Color, Drama, Reality .... No Digital Manipulation


Kevin Schafer Photography : HOME



Review a previous Picture of the Month:

Ring-tailed Leumur, 6/2012

Wandering Albatross, 5/2012

Kit Fox Puppies, 4/2012

Palm Crow, 3/2012

Nene Goose, 2/2012

Pack Ice, 1/2012

Maleos, 12/2011

Armadillo, 10/2011

Anhinga, 9/2011

Lava Tube, 8/2011

Blurry Cassowary, 7/2011

Mud Maid, 5/2011

Roadkill. 4/2011

Light and Shadow, 3/2001

Aurora, 40 below, 2/2011

Petra, 1/2011

Cassowary Family, 12/2010

Antarctic Storm, 11/2010

Yellow-eyed Penguin, 10/2010

Harebells in Wind, 9/2010

Coy Polar Bear, 8/2010

Bathing Beauty Bear, 7/2010

Maned Sloth, 6/2010

Sarus Cranes, 5/2010

Black-winged Stilts, 4/2010

Macaque/Gibbons, 3/2010

Cormorants, 2/2010

Silky Sifaka, 12/2009

Amazon Dolphin Polo, 11/2009

Yucatan Bats, 10/2009

Gulls and Flies, 8/2009

Callanish Stones, 7/2009

Amazon Dolphins (2), 6/2009

Golden Langur, 5/2009

Island Foxes, 4/2009

Puget Sound, 3/2009

Border Fence, 2/2009

Amazon Islands, 1/2009

King Penguins, 12/2008

Darwin's Fox, 11/2008

Blacktip Shark, 10/2008

Greenland Fisherman. 9/2008

Ladyslipper Orchids, 7/2008

Wild Cassowary, 6/2008

Painted Hands, 5/2008

Zion Park, 4/2008

Marine Otters, 3/2008

Mt. Hood Sunset, 2/2008

Mountain-Biking, 1/2008

Tent Bats, 12/2007

Nunbird, 11/2007

Alaskan Otters, 10/2007

Amazon Dolphin, 8/2007

Madagascar #2, 6/2007

Baja California, 5/2007

Pelicans, 3/2007

Darien Gap, 2/2007

Grey Whale Calf, 1/2007

Galapagos Sea Lion, 12/2006

Rockhoppers, 11/2006

Hummingbird, 10/2006

Madagascar, 9/2006

Whales, 7/2006

Sea Lions, 5/2006

Tiger, 4/2006

Jaguar, 2/2006

South Georgia, 12/2005

New Generation, 11/2005

Childhood, 9/2005

Penguins, 8/2005

Sea Palms, 7/2005

Aster Flower, 6/2005

Siskiyou Mountains, 5/2005

Humpback Whales, 4/2005

Christo GATES , 3/2005

Eucalyptus Leaves, 2/2005

Alaskan Aurora, 1/2005

Nesting Turtle, 12/2004

Autumn Berries, 10/2004

Costa Rica, 3/2004

Aurora Borealis, 10/2003

To contact Kevin Schafer :



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