At first they thought it was a big bird of prey, or a snowdrift. But then the passengers of an icebreaker passing in front of the Russian archipelago of Novaya Zemlya looked better and recognized the unmistakable shape of a white bear perched on top of a steep cliff 91 meters high, overlooking the sea.
Hunger has pushed the mammal into such a dangerous situation. In fact, the bear was attracted by a colony of Brünnich guillemots (Uria lomvia), seabirds widespread in northern Russia, intent on nesting. The hope for the plantigrade was to fix some eggs.
The rugged cliffs are certainly not a habitual hunting ground for white bears, who usually wait for prey (usually seals) lurking behind a crack in the ice and end up with a paw as soon as they, unaware, come out of the water to breathe . And the inexperience has played some ugly slips in this animal, under the curious gaze of a seagull perched on top of the rock.
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According to the experts, the bear's risky initiative is due to the progressive disappearance of the ice and the consequent narrowing of the hunting area of these mammals. Some of the passengers who witnessed the scene reported seeing other specimens swimming for several miles, in the absence of an iceberg where they could rest.
Melting ice: a white bear except for a hair
"The bears have taken pleasure in bird eggs due to the gradual decrease in ice, " explained Dylan Coker, the Californian photographer who immortalized the scene. After a few attempts and many disastrous falls, the bear retraced his steps without even putting an egg under his teeth.
To make these photos unique in the world is also the location: for the first time in fact a civil ship has been admitted into the waters of the Russian archipelago, which is a military zone and is one of the wildest and most unexplored places in the Arctic. Also this year, due to the low coverage of the ice at the North Pole, the North East and North West Passage have opened, now navigable as happened in 2008.
Hunger sometimes plays bad tricks. To put something in the stomach this female polar bear (Ursus maritimus) and her baby have ventured as far as a whale carcass stranded near shore in the Svalbard Islands, Norway. The mother, more experienced, moved with ease over what remained of the cetacean, but the puppy, more embarrassed, slipped and ended up soaked in ice water. Fortunately he managed to go back almost immediately: the baby probably has not yet fully developed that layer of subcutaneous fat that protects the adult specimens from the cold. To feed this often "insulator", bears stock up on whale fat, seals and walruses, high-calorie stocks that help them survive even in times when food is scarce.
The cutest puppies in this slideshow (watch)
Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) that inhabit Arctic glaciers, in the northernmost areas of the American and Eurasian continent, are substantially solitary animals. The only exceptions occur in two phases of the bear's life, that of mating, during which male and female spend together the three days of the female's inspiration, and that of the breeding of the young. In this case it is the female who takes care of the pair of bears born between November and January, during the winter lethargy. The mother does not abandon the puppies for the next 2-3 years, also ready to attack a male bear that eventually threatens them.
The salmon hunt must have made him so tired that this bear fell asleep from one minute to the other, with his head resting on his front legs and right on top of a small waterfall. Or perhaps it was boredom that plunged him into the arms of Morpheus: in fact, at the time of meals, the bears are quite active, and they concentrate snacks in the morning and evening to allow themselves a few hours of rest during the day. Between October and December the brown bears (Ursus arctos) enter a period of inactivity characterized by long sleeps, in which they allow their body temperature to go down to save energy (normal activities will resume in the spring). However, this is not a real hibernation and the specimens can be easily woken up even in these months.
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Many other curiosities about bears
It took all the photographer's cold blood to not leave the camera and run away. But in the end the courage of the reporter was rewarded with an unforgettable shot. The muzzle of this brown Kamchatka bear (Ursus arctos beringianus) is not perfectly centered because crushed against the lens of photographer Igor Gushchins who went to the Kronotsky Nature Reserve, in Russia, to document the behavior of bears during the spawning season salmon eggs. Just the presence of salmon gives these mammals the chance to have a diet rich in proteins, and the effects are seen: the Kamchatka bears reach remarkable tonnage, up to 2 meters and 75 centimeters in length.
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Don't miss the gallery dedicated to bearsYou might also like: Save this game Polar bears play with dogs Named bear in fact Hunger: an ugly beast! At first they thought it was a big bird of prey, or a snowdrift. But then the passengers of an icebreaker passing in front of the Russian archipelago of Novaya Zemlya looked better and recognized the unmistakable shape of a white bear perched on top of a steep cliff 91 meters high, overlooking the sea.