A flock of white animals was seen on Wrangle Island while tourists were visiting the remote polar region. The tourists were all confident that they were looking at a flock of white sheep that were grazing along the water as they looked out from their vessel Akademik Shokalskiy, as it sped along the shoreline of the Russian-controlled island located up north in the Arctic Ocean.
However, the tourists were in for the surprise of their lives – and the trip – when they realized that they were not looking at a flock of sheep along the Russian island. Instead, they were gazing upon a large group of polar bears – more than two hundred of them – that were drawn to the shoreline after a whale carcass came up to touch down along the water’s edge.
The group of polar bears first started to appear on September 19 and remained in the area for an entire day or two while they consumed the entire whale carcass.
Capt. Rodney Russ of Heritage Expeditions claimed that the sight of all those polar bears was “one of those days I or anybody else with me will never forget.”
The sea captain added, “We were cruising down the coast and saw a ‘herd’ or ‘convention’ of polar bears on or near the beach. There was a dead bowhead whale, and we counted over 150 polar bears (of all ages, sexes, and sizes) that were either feeding or had been feeding on it in the immediate vicinity of the whale. We launched the Zodiacs for a closer look, and that is the memory we will all carry with us… there are no words to describe it. I share one photo in the hope that it will portray something of our experience.”
The Siberian Times later wrote about the incident. They claimed that there were as many as two hundred thirty polar bears along the water’s edge eating the whale carcass. The Times reported that some tourists who spotted the group of polar bears from a distance thought they were looking at grazing sheep because they never expected to see so many polar bears in one location.
Wrangel Island is a nature reserve with some two thousand nine hundred acres of pristine Arctic land. The island is located between the Chukchi Sea and the East Siberian Sea. According to reports familiar with the area, it has the highest density of polar bear dens in the entire world. Every winter, there are an estimated four hundred mother polar bears raising their young on the Russian-controlled island.
This incident is an example of how human activity can be a huge influence on animal behaviors. The bowhead whale was likely killed by commercial whaling operations in the area, and its carcass provided a rich source of food for these hungry polar bears. This also serves as an important reminder that we must do our best to protect our environment and the creatures that inhabit it. By taking steps to reduce climate change, protecting wildlife habitats, and enforcing regulations on commercial operations, we can help ensure that incidents like this remain rare occurrences.