Tourists on a cruise boat in one of the most remote places on Earth just witnessed an amazing moment.
Off in the distance, tourists thought they were approaching a hillside dotted with white specs. Could they be birds, sheep, goats, or something else?
The sight of so many large, white critters spanning the Wrangel Island slope reminded tourists of grazing sheep.
However, the dots turned out to be the largest land predator in the world.
Drawn in by the aroma of a whale carcass that had floated into the shallows, there were more than 200 remarkable scenes featuring polar bears.
Tourists and researchers on board the Akademik Shokalskiy, which was cruising the Arctic Ocean shoreline of the island under Russian sovereignty, witnessed this amazing assembly.
According to a blog post, Rodney Russ, the owner and expedition leader of Heritage Expeditions, said that no one who was present on Sept. 19 2017 will ever forget the scene.
“What we saw (and experienced) next will rewrite expedition travel experiences. 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.” Rodney Russ wrote.
“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.”
“You had to live it to believe it, even now there are people pinching themselves to make sure it really happened.”
It seemed an almost incredible event in a time when polar bears are threatened globally due to melting ice and less opportunity to catch prey. The bears appeared to have discovered the carcass at the same time and traveled kilometers to find the food.
A news release from Wrangel Island said there are about 230 polar bears there.
“There were male and female bears, some with little bears of all ages, two female bears with 4 little ones. Tourists were lucky to find such unique gathering of bears because the ship has passed by the island. There were scientists and security supervisors on the ship. International scientific group for monitoring population of white bears on Chukotka and Alaska working in that area of the island was informed about the finding. At the moment, thorough scientific observations are made,” the release stated.
Images, however, show the size of a tranquil gathering of strong carnivores, which usually grow hostile toward one another while hunting or feeding.
The largest concentration of polar bear dens on Earth may be found on Wrangel Island, a 2,900-acre nature reserve sandwiched between the Chukchi Sea and the East Siberian Sea. As many as 400 mother bears use the island each winter to nurse their cubs.
Because of the shrinking ice pack due to climate change, more polar bears have been using Wrangel Island throughout the summer in recent years.
Wrangle Island has been referred to as the “Galapagos of the North,” and is believed to be the last destination on earth to have sustained woolly mammoths.