Polar Play~

We are seeing polar bear everyday here in The Hudson Bay!

This series of shots are a mama and cub at play.

Polar Bear health is rated on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being too thin and starving, and 5 being overfed and obese.

I am happy to report that all the bears we are seeing are healthy fours!

The population of polar bears at Hudson Bay are thought to number between 900-1000.

Some estimates indicate Hudson Bay populations may have declined approximately 17%- 22% in recent years, but they have rebounded from all time population lows in the 1950’s-70’s.

All the bears we are seeing look really healthy.

During the end of August, polar bears are in a state of semi-stuporous, walking hibernation, waiting for the waters of the bay to freeze up, so they can head out and hunt seals.

They still do eat and hunt though, and I will show you some photos of this in my next post.

But, for the most part, these lazy August days are spent sleeping, playing and swimming.

This little cub though, seems quite intent on depriving mama of her nap!

The affection between them was beautiful to see.

Cheers to you from the happy, healthy bears of The Hudson Bay~

350 thoughts on “Polar Play~

  1. I can’t quite believe those photographs; they are simply wonderful. A genuine pleasure to see – you must be VERY pleased. And what a privilege to see those creatures at play.

  2. Loved seeing these truly amazing photos, Cindy. Hopefully the waters do freeze for them. You’re so close to me. Just slightly further north. 🙂

    1. Thank you! They laze around mostly in August, waiting for the freeze-up so they can go sealing on the ice. I actually saw a group of belugas surround a swimming polar bear and bother it.

  3. What a beautiful post! Thanks, Cindy. I’ve seen photos and videos of starving bears, and it breaks my heart and makes me furious, at the same time, so I’m relieved these 2 are healthy. Let’s hope they will continue to thrive, in spite of human activity and climate change.

      1. We we’re so moved by your pictures that we even double-comment! Sorry about that, but we’re definitely not sorry for seeing those little bears on your replies! Thank you!

  4. My son Domer had a polar bear stuffed animal when he was little — way whiter than this mama and her cub! They’re just so precious — thank you, Cindy, for capturing them at play.

    1. Thank you Peter, and yes indeed, this is in the very wild, on the shores of The Hudson Bay in Manitoba. We have seen bears everyday and thousands of beluga whales too.

      1. Hey Cindy..I’m not that smart on WordPress. I wanted to send an ecologist friend of mine your link so he can see all of your blogs. I thought he would love your pics and info. Do I just give him your https://cindyknoke.com link or does he need to do something else to see all your past blogs. Thx Cindy

        1. Ahh, so thoughtful of you Gary. Thank you! You can send him the link but there is a lot of content. It might be better for him to just google anything he might be interested in, like “cindy knoke parrots”, or bears, or elephants, or countries, Africa, Antarctica etc. I used to be good at tagging posts with topic tags, so they would link together by topic, but I have done less of it lately because WP seemed to discourage it, but it should still work. Also WP does link similar topics on posts for the reader to see related content, so posts on polar bears link to grizzly bears etc which is helpful to see other posts on related topics.
          So nice of you Gary. Thanks again & cheers my friend!

  5. How a stunning series, Cindy! And, you get to see them everyday! They both look healthy and happy. Thank you for sharing these beautiful and precious photos with us!

  6. Pingback: Polar Play~ — (Cindy’s beautiful pictures of polar bears at play…mom and cub) | Rethinking Life

  7. What a beautiful post! As soon as I saw the first frame, I wanted to see more and you delivered…I’m so glad to read that they are wonderfully healthy. Some of our polar bears are mating with the local brown bears in order to survive…

    1. Yes, I have heard this, which is a surprise. I was also surprised that grizzlies actually dominate polar bears who are bigger. But, I suspect, in winter, the dynamic may change, as polar bears have the advantage of camouflage and can sniff out the sleeping grizzly dens.

  8. Timothy Price

    You are like an umpire “Play Bear!” Beautiful photos. The first photo looks like they are playing Pattycake. Bears can be so playful and innocent looking, but they are not ones to be played with.

    1. Polar bear appearance is so incongruous. They look like fuzzy teddy bears and their affection for each other reminds me of Paddington Bear, but they are the ultimate predators.

    1. Thank you for caring <3 We need hope and so do the bears. You make me happy I posted ก็็็็็็็็็็็็็ʕ•͡ᴥ•ʔ ก้้้้้้้้้้้

  9. You take the most fabulous trips! It’s lovely to see these bears and see that they are healthy. They have a lovely floppiness to them when they fall back, don’t they?

    1. The mamas certainly do have this almost disjointed, totally relaxed appearance, as they flop on their backs and are attacked by their cubs. I have seen multiple bears do this and it is utterly charming.

    1. Thank you Mandy. These are thrill inducing creatures and I am glad I was able to communicate this to you. Hugs to you my friend ก็็็็็็็็็็็็็ʕ•͡ᴥ•ʔ ก้้้้้้้้้้้

  10. OMG!!

    Thank you, Cindy! These bears may be the head of our survival.
    I sense a poem…
    I’m not a poet… Polar Bear with me! 3
    I’ll write one!

  11. fascinating… seems so curious to see these healthy Polar Bears romping about in the greenery! I guess I’ve only seen them on ice and snow and, well… polar scenery. How soon will the Bay freeze and has that changed a lot in recent years?

    1. Ahhh, thank you. You make me happy I posted them. Cheers to you my friend. ก็็็็็็็็็็็็็ʕ•͡ᴥ•ʔ ก้้้้้้้้้้้

    1. Ahhhh, so kind. I so appreciate people who care for our wild creatures. I just feel thrilled to be in their presence. ก็็็็็็็็็็็็็ʕ•͡ᴥ•ʔ ก้้้้้้้้้้้ <3

    1. It seems incongruous doesn’t it. I can tell they love rolling around on the tundra, but when the temp starts to get a bit too warm for their taste, they pant and go swim in the bay where the belugas tease them!

  12. Toujours de beaux clichés animaliers, celui-ci nous incitera à porter encore plus d’attention au réchauffement climatique, dont les ours blancs seront probablement les premiers à payer l’addition.

    1. Je vous remercie. Je suis d’accord avec toi. Nous devons protéger notre planète de ses belles créatures contre nous-mêmes. ก็็็็็็็็็็็็็ʕ•͡ᴥ•ʔ ก้้้้้้้้้้้

    1. I feel just the same. These magnificent creatures deserve our protection ก็็็็็็็็็็็็็ʕ•͡ᴥ•ʔ ก้้้้้้้้้้้

  13. I wouldn´t like to be on the receiving end of that play.
    They are truly magestic creatures. And you…..na, just strolling next to them telling them ¨smile¨and ¨roll over¨ click click with the camera…..
    I don´t know why I watched a lot of documentaries about these bears, these ones the other ones , lieons, e.t.c really, but these creatures as I say are truly magestic. Nice capturing them playing, very rare. Great job.

    1. I see them just as you do Charly. They are magnificent. They are the top predators here, but now the grizzlies are moving into their territory, and dominating them, which surprises me as grizzlies are smaller. I wonder if the grizzlies have the advantage in spring through fall, and the polar bears dominate in the winter, when the grizzlies and less able to camouflage themselves against the winter white. Both are stealth hunters so not being seen is a big advantage.

    1. In June the birds are here enmass. Towards late August most birds have left, but the polar bears are coming towards the shore waiting for freeze up, and there are thousands of beluga whales in the bay to play with. You can walk around with a guide, take boats out on the bay, and drive the unpaved roads looking for wildlife. The weather is also usually better and the aurora borealis can often be seen. In September and October, the bears and tourist mass, as freeze up is starting. It is cold. You can’t go out on the bay by boat and you have to transport around all day in a tundra buggy which is a bus specially designed for bear viewing. You will see more bears closer, but will be cooped up in a vehicle with less freedom and more tourists. IN August we drive around in a van with just ourselves, a guide, and a person from Italy and Spain. It has been perfect. My son went snorkeling in the bay in a drysuit and you can kayak with the belugas who love to play with you.

    1. Oh I hope you do come up here. It is an experience of a lifetime. I actually recommend August. There are thousands of belugas who want to play with you and bears playing and enjoying themselves all around you. The ecosystem itself is a wonderland. Taking the train which is a two day trip would be an experience too, because you travel through all this unpopulated (by humans) habitat filled with lakes and ponds and wild ones.

  14. Wow! There’s something that seems so startling about seeing polar bears against a green background because all of the documentaries always position them trudging along the ice. Incredible photos, as always.

    1. Everything about polar bears is incongruous and I know just what you mean. Polar bear playing in the flowers is not an image we expect. But they are here now, about 900 of them.

    1. Thank you John.
      The experience is up there with Antarctica, Africa and The Amazon.
      It has this unreal component.
      In Africa I walked off the plane, looked around, and thought, “Oh, my God,” and moved to get our rental car.
      Antarctica is beyond the words of me, but someone else sailed us there.
      Stepping off “Calm Air,” (aka Calamity Airlines,) I saw the first bears in under five minutes.
      It was the same surreal feeling in all three places, but polar bears are special. They are the earth’s largest terrestrial predators, and they are magnificent

    1. Thank you Charles for support these amazing ก็็็็็็็็็็็็็ʕ•͡ᴥ•ʔ ก้้้้้้้้้้้ & cheers to you my friend <3

    1. Yes. The viewing distance is so safe it does negatively affect the photos, but it protects me, and it protects the polar bears who are endangered by people who get too close for better shots.

  15. Wonderful pictures, polar bears are beautiful creatures. You are truly lucky to have the opportunity to see these beautiful scenes and capture them.
    Thank you for sharing. 🙂

    1. I am shamelessly riding on the polar bears short but powerful tail of popularity. There is something seriously wrong with someone who doesn’t love a polar bear. The people in Churchill, who know them best, love and respect them. Every house, has a least one artistic polar bear rendering on prominent display, most have more than one.

      1. Fabulous! They are beautiful creatures of earth, and like most have been short changed by man. Churchillians must be a lot closer to nature than many.

        1. People in Churchill are very friendly, helpful and impressive. They live in the most unique place, in the midst of this vast and stark tundra, next to the massive Hudson Bay which is really like a sea, and of course they share the place with so many polar bears. I listened to a lecture by this young local Cree girl at The Churchill library and learned so much from her. The ties and family bonds going down through the generations in her culture is so impressive to me. And there is a local Eskimo museum. The relocation of the Sayisi Dene people here and the effect on their culture was heartbreaking to see and read about, and the museum had this huge collection of incredible Inuit art and artifacts. Whenever I visit the arctic, I am just blown away with the people who lived for thousands of years in such harsh environments, didn’t destroy their territory, and survived, until the Europeans arrived.

    1. They are just spectacular. They seem like more remote, white, grizzlies, and they eat all sorts of stuff, grass, berries, et al, which seemed so logical to me, since grizzlies do the same thing, all the time. Grizzlies eat lots of plants, lots of the time. Maybe the reason the polar bears in Hudson Bay are doing slightly better than polar bears in Norway and further north, is they have summer grazing with plants and such, and are not utterly dependent on seals.

  16. Cindy, what a magical sight to behold and thank you for sharing with us here! 😀 It is wonderful to see them so playful and affectionate with each other, looking incredibly healthy and happy. I always feel for the polar bears in zoos, even in the better ones, they always seem sad and unwell. Amazing personable photos! Can’t wait for the next post! Xx

    1. Polar Bears in zoos are sad sights, especially in San Diego where it is so hot. They put chunks of ice in the outdoor exhibits in the summer but now that I have learned how polar bear skin and fur generates heat, I feel especially bad for them. Polar Bears are marine mammals made for arctic seas.

  17. Oh my goodness, they are so majestic and at the same time so adorable! And as usual your photography is fantastic, Cindy, I’m enjoying looking at their play, in the idyllic scenery, and their fascinating facial expressions. Thanks for these! Cheers 🙂

    1. Ahhh, makes me happy I posted Halim. Thank you. They just are incredibly fascinating creatures to watch. We watched a big male swim in Hudson Bay in a zodiac. Just incredible, and so much more bear behavior, including a mom and cub sharing a kill. I will post more photos soon and am happy you enjoyed. Thank care my friend ก็็็็็็็็็็็็็ʕ•͡ᴥ•ʔ ก้้้้้้้้้้้

    1. I hope you go, and then you will want to go back. It draws you back once you go, and it leaves a lasting impression. I remember reading “Arctic Dreams,” by Barry Lopez” many years ago, when I first went to Alaska. He captures the magic perfectly. You might like the book.

      1. I think I will like the book; I’ll look it up! When I was a kid my favorite book was about a biologist who lived on Ellesmere Island studying arctic wolves; I read it over and over! The pictures of the landscape were mesmerizing.

  18. No snow? I hope that you at a healthy distance with binoculars and telephoto lens. I am reminded of kayaking on Kodiak Island some years ago, when a mother-cub were walking along the beach. They passed over a burn and disappeared behind it. The guide pulled us up the shore & told ME to hop out to get a photo when they appeared again. Yikes! The burn was only 40 feet from the water… what if they came back toward me. Fortunately, and maybe the guide knew their path, they showed up on the hillside for some great shots (very limited telephone lens at the time). – Oscar

    1. Wow. That clearly raised your blood pressure. I do not like encountering grizzlies unexpectedly on trails, scares the beejeezus out of me, but I do love observing them at a safe distance, same with polar bears. It protects me and the bears. I so wanted to walk to the birds in Churchill in the ponds by the old port. There were dancing sandhill cranes there, but I didn’t, I asked our guide if I should and she said no. I asked a young local Cree girl what she thought. She told me it should be okay, she had walked there and it was okay, her brother walked there though and got chased by bear, but it was okay, because someone saw this and fired some crackle shots and scared the bear away. I decided to let the cranes dance without me.

  19. Pingback: CREATIVE Blogger Award – Simply Splendid Food

    1. Laughing….looks are deceiving. They heads remind me of leopard seals and leopard seals hunting penguins was one of the scariest things I’ve seen. I have photos of polar bears opening their mouth wide. Their mouths are HUGE, just like leopard seals. It almost looks like they could swallow a seal whole.

  20. Wonderful post and images, Cindy. For a second (millisecond) I thought you were posting for the “Precious Pets” theme this week on Lens-Artists!! How did you get so close to these amazing creatures? 200mm lens or longer?

  21. Stunning photos and wonderful to see that these guys are still happy and healthy. Just one question though, how on earth did you manage to take these photos? A little close for comfort, no?

  22. Wow, how did you capture those photos without getting so close? Magic telescopic lens? They look so happy as though there was nothing in the world to worry about. Huh, the life of a bear. 🙂 xx

    1. Oh please do!! And tell me what you’ll do. We have just gotten home. It is lots of flights to get there from SoCal, but I am already kinda thinking, return in early June sometime? The birds are there enmass….laughing. This is what travel does to me. It makes me go back to exceptional places. I know you have the exact same wonderful itch.

  23. Wondering how close you were to Mama and cub! You certainly know how to get great shots. It’s so awful that these magnificent bears are under so much pressure. They need space and ice and not to be at risk of starving. Am relieved Hudson Bay bears are in good shape even if numbers are down.

    1. I shot them at maximum 1200 zoom. If I was closer, like others are, the photos would be better. I respected our guide because she cared more about the bears than my photos. There are some populations of bears that are actually doing well. In Hudson Bay, prolonged hunting drove the numbers perilously down. Since the hunting has been significantly limited, the bears are rallying.

      1. I think the photos are really clear and capture the bears well. It is good to have concerned guides and a balancing act as being close to these animals certainly helps with inspiring us to protect them.

  24. This must have been grand, to see them play in real life.

    You are right to notice that the reason the polar bears in Hudson Bay might be doing slightly better than polar bears in Norway and further north, is that they have summer grazing with plants and such, and are not utterly dependent on seals, whilst here at the European continent there is not so much green for them, and often the ice plates are not strong enough any more to bear them or are too far away so that they have to swim to far.

    Thanks for showing us that beautiful world of them,

    1. Yes. You know the facts. They also eat birds in The Hudson Bay. There are many millions of geese here. I have photos of them eating a kill. The population in the bay is doing far better than it was decades ago when so many were shot and the numbers were dramatically down.

  25. Wonderful images so clear, and its so good to know the numbers are rising again.. Lets hope these beautiful bears succeed and survive in their natural habitat…
    Loved seeing them at play 🙂

  26. Bonjour Mon AMIE CINDY très joli ces ours blancs
    Comment trouver le bonheur

    Ne le cherche pas le bonheur dans tes souvenirs
    Cela te ferait beaucoup plus de mal
    Tu retrouverais les bons ainsi que les mauvais
    Si tu veux trouver le bonheur
    Cherche le dans le présent
    C’est seulement là qu’ il t’attend et là tu éviteras ceux qui peuvent te faire du mal
    Alors vit ton bonheur dans ce présent
    Belle semaine à toi , tes proches tes amies
    Pour toi une partie de mon bonheur
    Bisous Bernard

Leave a Reply