Churchill: The Town that Loves Polar Bears

10/27/2011 1:24:20 AM

Churchill: The Town that Loves Polar Bears

 A Tundra Buggy along the shore of Hudson Bay

I can't get over the rustic, worn, and neat look of this town. I thoroughly enjoy the people and the little get-together we had at the PBI house, which seemed to include most of the town folks from Churchill. The landscape, character of the people, and of course the polar bears make Churchill a unique place. The bears share this area with the town's people until the ice forms along the Hudson Bay in November or early December. The weather isn't too cold today at 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Over the last few decades, and even more so in recent years, the ice has been taking longer to form on the bay, providing less time for the polar bears to hunt ringed seals.

Last night we experienced a beautiful, full, clear starlit night, no sigh of the northern lights, and this morning I saw a terrific crimson red sky reflected off the clouds. One bear was eating kelp and grass, not a good source of nutrition for a 900-pound polar bear. He needs a blubber-rich ringed seal to make a living and can't survive on kelp, grass, and berries. This male had the secondary sex characteristic of long fur flowing from his forelimbs. Today we saw a total of three polar bears, three tundra swans, two arctic foxes, quite a few ptarmigans, and snow buntings. The sky remained cloudy and beautiful all day.

Bear bathed in sunlight

It's interesting how the Tundra Buggies are careful not to drive too close to the polar bears, and in return the bears seem tolerant of the buggies and our presence. The bears seem to be good at conserving their energy until the ice forms on the Hudson Bay. We did video conferences today with three different schools. Very much enjoyed the interest and energy of the kids from second to eight grades concerning climate change and polar bears. They are definitely our future!

Week one panelists

Week One Tundra Connections panelists: Left to right, Bill Winhall, Alysa McCall, Kevin MIddel, and Kathy Donahue. Top and middle photos by Kevin Middel; bottom by BJ Kirschhoffer.

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