Taking the Shot
Churchill, Manitoba, is known as the polar bear capital of the world. This is because polar bears feed primarily on seal....and the only efficient way that a polar bear has of catching a seal is to lay down as stealthily as it can at the edge of a seal breathing hole in the ice. Seal sticks its head out to take a breath....bear catch seal....bear eat seal. Sounds pretty easy....right? Maybe not so easy....any given seal has as many as 15-20 breathing holes that it will use....and they are pretty good at looking up through the water surface to see if there is a big black bear nose hanging out up there waiting for them. It is rumored that bears will cover their noses with a paw so as to avoid detection....not sure if that is true or not.
Anyway, I digressed a little. Churchill....polar bear capital....yeah. So bears need ice to catch seals, and the ice on Hudson Bay generally freezes first around Churchill. This is for a number of reasons. Ice will only develop on Hudson Bay from a strong Northerly wind that blows chilled arctic air over the water. And Cape Churchill sticks out from the shore to a degree, causing a natural barrier that traps this wind generated ice and causes it to build into a solid ice sheet. Secondly, the Churchill River empties into the bay just north of the cape, and the reduced water salinity will allow the water to freeze earlier.
So, the ice freezes first around Churchill....so this is where the starving bears congregate to get first shot at seals when there is ice. It's a kindof Black Friday for bears.
Now this brings us to the story of the bear in the "You Talking to Me 2009" shot. He was simply near Churchill waiting for the ice to freeze. The temperature is still pretty warm by bear standards, so they tend to do a lot of laying around, rather than moving, so as not to overheat.
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