Sparring Polar Bears. Polar Bears congregate on the tundra close to Hudson’s Bay, Churchill, because this is the place they know where the bay will freeze over first and they will be able to hunt seals and have their first substantial meal in months. This is one of the rare times that the normally solitary male Polar Bear meets up with other bears. We came across these two male bears as they were sparring. This play fighting is thought to contribute to establishing hierarchies, practice for hunting and helps them stay strong and alert. Sparring Polar Bears certainly makes for entertaining viewing.
The reason Polar Bears congregate here is that Hudson Bay freezes first at this location because the fresh water from the Churchill river enters the bay, reduces its salinity and hence it freezes earlier than the rest of the bay. It’s a waiting game. It was very cold when we were there but not cold enough to freeze the sea. However, within a few days of this being filmed, the temperature plummeted even more and the bay began to freeze over. At this point, the Polar Bears left Churchill in search of seals which will haul out on the new ice. Global warming is a serious threat to these icons of the far north since they rely on sea ice to feed.