Polar bears are special. It’s a statement that I keep saying over and over again. Because once you experience the magic of polar bears, there is no going back.
And this time I was so grateful to share this experience with an exceptional group of conservation-first photographers on our Wildlife Collective photo tour, which coincided with Polar Bear week.
We landed in Churchill, the self-declared polar bear capital of the world, on November 1st, full of enthusiasm and excitement. Historically, this had been the very best window to see the most polar bears, with the ice forming rapidly on the Hudson Bay and the bears emerging to test it out.
Polar Bear Conservation
This year was very different. There was no sea ice when we arrived on November 1st, none when we left, and still none as of today. To put things in perspective, Hudson Bay completely froze over around Churchill by November 11th the previous three years.
The consequences of delayed sea ice and polar bear conservation took center stage during our first evening. Our group was treated to an exclusive event at Polar Bears International (PBI) house where we had amazing discussions with PBI staff. We learned first-hand about their advocacy, research, and commitment to secure a future for polar bears across the Arctic.
For this year’s Polar Bear week, PBI launched a campaign to fund new ground-based radar systems to function as early warning devices that can trigger alerts and prevent encounters, saving the lives of both polar bears and people. As part of our photo tour, The Wildlife Collective donated $1,000 CDN to this important campaign.
During our tour, we were treated to the most amazing aurora display that I had ever seen. At one point, the Northern Lights bedazzled from every direction. With vibrant greens, reds, and many shades in between, it was challenging to decide which direction to point your camera. Eventually, most of us put our cameras down and opted to fully absorb this amazing visual display.
Moments to Cherish
During the course of our stay, we were treated to several special encounters with polar bears. A mother nursing her cub right in front of us, twice. Male polar bears awakening from a deep slumber and walking right past us. A mom with two tiny cubs walking in front of the grounded SS Ithaka freight ship.
As I said goodbye to the amazing photographers in our group, it was with a heavy heart. We had shared so many moments, laughs, and sightings that will never be forgotten.
Video + Free eBook
To help preserve our amazing experience, I made a video that captured some of our favorite moments together, behind the scenes footage, and highlights from the few extra days I stayed on after the tour had ended.
Free eBook: You can also see my favorite 20 images from my time, including image specs, by clicking on the image below.