Sparring Polar Bears – Churchill, Canada 2021

Sparring Polar Bears. As a freezing wind blew across the tundra near Churchill, Canada these two male Polar Bears had a sparring match. Breath from their exertions condensed and was carried away on the breeze. Their actions kicked up the snow which was also picked up on the wind. The snow, rock-strewn tundra and the willow trees make for an engaging environment to witness this play fighting. This area is well known as a place to see sparring Polar Bears.

Male bears are usually solitary but they (plus females and cubs) gather here each year. 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. The bay freezes first at this location because the fresh water from the Churchill river enters the bay, reduces its salinity and hence it freezes over earlier than the rest of the bay. It’s a waiting game. It was cold when we were there but not cold enough to freeze the sea. The male Polar Bears get bored and often spar with each other. Within a week or so of this sparring being filmed, the temperatures plummeted and the bay began to freeze over. The Polar Bears will soon have gone from around Churchill in search of seals which will haul out on the new ice.