Her name is Kerstin Langenberger! This German globetrotter is a great Arctic Nature Lover. In fact, Nature is her life, her joy and her adventure. Kerstin says on her own beautiful website Arctic Dreams: “… I just hope that, one day, I will find a way to give something back to nature for all it gave to me, and what I´m so very grateful for…”.
More than that, she’s a so talented photographer specialized in wild landscapes and night photography of Arctic regions or what she calls “Nordic dreamscapes”! Kerstin Langenberger is offering us breathtaking & spectacular pictures of Iceland, Svalbard, … and even Antarctica! “…To me, landscape photography is an homage to nature which I aim to share with others in a beautiful and still realistic way. I do not see myself as much of an artist: the real artist is nature!…” she wrote on her website.
Today, we are here with Kerstin in the far North of Norway, in the Arctic archipelageo of Svalbard! She photographed during her July 2015 adventure the below starving & skinny (sick (?)) polar bear and she witnessed at the same time – like I did also last year (see below) – the Arctic pack ice is disappearing in record alarming speed…
“… For tourists and wildlife photographers, the main reason to come to Svalbard is to see polar bears. And yes, usually we find them: beautiful bears, photogenic bears, playfull or even at a kill. At first glance, everything is as it has always been in one of the most easily accessible polar bear populations of the world, strongly protected and doing good, so some scientists say. But are they really doing good, the bears up here?
I am a critically minded person, and I observe. I see the summers being so pleasant (and warm) as never before. I see the glaciers calving, retreating dozens to hundreds of metres every year. I see the pack ice disappearing in record speed. Yes, I have seen bears in good shape – but I have also seen dead and starving polar bears. Bears walking on the shores, looking for food, bears trying to hunt reindeer, eating bird’s eggs, moss and seaweed. And I realized that the fat bears are nearly exclusively males which stay on the pack ice all year long.
The females, on the other hand, which den on land to give birth to their young, are often slim. With the pack ice retreating further and further north every year, they tend to be stuck on land where there’s not much food to be found. In the first year, they lose their first cub. In the second year, they lose their second (and last) cub. Only once I have seen a mother with a nearly independent cub.
Only few times I have seen beautifully fat mothers with beautifully fat young. Many times I have seen horribly thin bears, and those were exclusively females – like this one here. A mere skeleton, hurt on her front leg, possibly by a desperate attempt to hunt a walrus while she was stuck on land.
Some experts claim the Svalbard population to be stable, even rising. Well, here comes my question: how can a population be stable if it consists of less and less females and cubs? How can a population be doing good if most bear will score a body index of 2-3 out of 5?
Only once I have seen a bear getting a big fat „5“, but several times I have seen dead bears and bears like this one: a mere „1“ on the scale, doomed to death. I do not have scientific data to proof my observations, but I have eyes to see – and a brain to draw conclusions.
Climate change is happening big deal here in the Arctic. And it is our decision to trying to change this. So: let’s do something about the biggest threat of our time. Maybe we cannot save this bear here. But every little action we do to change our ways is a step in the right direction. We just have to get started and keep on going!… more info >>“.
Evenmore, NASA reported earlier this year that Arctic sea ice had reached its lowest annual maximum extent on record!
Sea ice has retreated so much, in fact, that National Geographic has had to keep changing its atlas in response to the trend (see above interactive map).
Warming waters also appear to be pushing certain species north, bringing polar bears into contact with prey they haven’t met before (mainly in spring time). Last year for example, I took a picture of a polar bear sleeping next to a white-beaked dolphin carcass in North of Svalbard (see here below)… These dolphins rarely venture so far north in the Arctic and prefer the sub-Arctic which has less sea ice and more open water…
Photo and article by Patrick Reader – www.arctic05.org
– Arctic Dreams website: http://www.arctic-dreams.com/
– Svalbard photo gallery: http://www.arctic-dreams.com/en/svalbard;126.96.36.199/cat5.html
– Dreamscapes photo gallery: http://www.arctic-dreams.com/en/dreamscapes;188.8.131.52/cat6.html
– Patrick Reader’s article: “Feel inspired by enchanting Svalbard”>>