Alaska Polar Bears 2015 - Victor Nemeth MD

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In October, 2015 I went on a Polar Bear and Northern Lights Photo Tour to Northern Alaska. The trip leaders were Patrick Endres and Hugh Rose. They did a great job organizing and leading the trip. We drove the 500 mile Dalton ( Haul Road ) Highway from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay. On the way and on the return we stopped for a couple nights in Wiseman Alaska to catch the Northern Lights.

On the way up the Dalton Highway we photographed the beautiful scenery. We also kept an eye open for Arctic wildlife. We saw caribou, fox, ptarmigan, moose, spruce grouse, Northern hawk owls, two wolves and muskox. One of the highlights of the trip was hiking out on the Arctic tundra to view and photograph four muskox. Seeing the muskox on the Alaskan Arctic tundra with the high winds and blowing snow was truly magical.

When we got to Prudhoe Bay we then flew 120 miles to Kaktovik Alaska. Kaktovik is an Inupiat (Eskimo ) village on Barter Island. The population is around 250 mostly natives. Barter Island is an island off the Alaskan Arctic Coast in the Beaufort Sea. The Inupiat are allowed sustenance hunting of three Bowhead Whales each year. The Bowhead Whales are the longest living mammals up to 250 years and grow up to 60 foot and 60 tons. The Nanook ( Polar Bears ) congregate in the area each year for the hunt. They feed on the scraps that are left from the harvested whales. The number of bears vary from year to year. There were around 40 bears in the area when we visited. I saw around 25 different bears. It was fantastic watching the bears interact with each other and play in the icy sea water. The bears are very playful, not just the cubs but also the adults. The bears in the area looked very healthy and well prepared for the coming winter. By early November the sea will be frozen and the bears will head out to hunt seals on the pack ice.



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