Polar Bears International

The Waiting Game

3/20/2012 8:41:58 PM

The Waiting Game


It's strange to imagine that such an unforgiving place as the Arctic is quite familiar to the creatures that call it home, though even some of them look a little out of place. We've seen many red foxes this year. Their bright red coats definitely make them stand out. I can't help but think, "What do they eat?  What does anything eat up here?" 

 Red fox on North Slope

We see the foxes twitching their ears at the snow and know they're listening for voles and lemmings, but it's almost beyond belief that they could actually find a single one. 

Foxes, ptarmigan, caribou, and ravens all look lost to my eye in a monotony of white without end. It's as though they were shot in a special effects studio behind a blue screen, but then someone forgot to add the habitat. 

 Snowy owl

To those of us who make our homes well south of the Arctic Circle it would appear a biological conundrum for organisms to settle here. However, life does thrive even in the frozen wastes at the top of the world. It's quite a spectacle.

 Mother with young cub

Currently we're playing the waiting game with one of the Arctic's more elusive icons. Somewhere in drifted snow banks, mother polar bears must surely have cabin fever as they continue to raise energetic, white fluff-balls in cramped quarters. Any day now they should be ready to emerge from their maternal dens and head to sea in search of food. Only time will tell if we have been fortunate to capture this moment for our ongoing research. We battle the elements daily to maintain our cameras, but in the end a good bit of luck will be needed if we are to have success. I suppose nothing is easy in the Arctic, for wildlife and researchers alike. Yet I felt feel privileged to be able to job-shadow these creatures for a time in my own study abroad, and to get a taste of their challenges first-hand.

Top and middle photos, ©Mike Lockhart; bottom photo, ©Daniel J. Cox/Natural Exposures. Return to Scientists & Explorers Blog.

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