Polar bear season 2016 was filled with mother and cub polar bear sightings This shot by Great White Bear Tour’s Dorota Walkoski captures the loving affection of a mom and cub resting on the Precambrian shield. Every polar bear season in Churchill and come October 2017 we are sure there will be something different!
When one thinks spring in the Arctic, one thinks snow buntings. Snow buntings arrive first on the scene once winter releases its grip on the Arctic. When you see these harbingers of spring congregating in your town on their way north, rest assured the migration of birds north has begun. Soon the Arctic will be filled with various species feasting on the bounty the northern summer provides. So, keep an eye out for those incredibly cute snow buntings and head north to see all the other migratory species!
Hold your breath and hope for the best for this Arctic hare as these wolves pursue him at high speed. This is survival of the fittest in the purest sense. Another interesting fact about Arctic Hares, that I used to teach travelers to Churchill working as a guide for Natural Habitat Adventures, is that their black – tipped ears are a distraction and target for raptor predators. The birds focus on the spots and attempt to grab the hare by those dark natural targets instead of the neck or fleshy body. Since they are moving and thinner, they are hard to grab on to. These creatures are quite adapted to the Arctic environment!
This is something global warming proponents could not have predicted when temperatures began to rise faster than expected in the Arctic. Is it possible that a disease that has been eradicated from the world could reemerge again?
Scientists from Russia are worried that deadly diseases such as smallpox and anthrax could be released back into the human population via the thawing of ground covering Arctic graves in a report released by The Sun UK. An anthrax outbreak in the Yamal peninsula last year caused the death of one child and nearly 2,500 reindeer. Thawing reindeer graves is blamed on this particular outbreak and was fairly harmless to people though the fear that smallpox could be released in the same fashion is now prevalent.
Russian scientists are concerned that smallpox could be released from Arctic graves in Siberia where thawing is occurring three times faster than usual. Climate change is the driving factor behind the melting scientists argue.
The primary concern stems from an 1890’s smallpox epidemic that killed almost half the population in eastern Siberia. Boris Kerhengolts, Deputy Director for research at the Institiute of Biological Problems of the Cryolithozone in Yakutsk, issued a concerning statement; “during the 1890s, a major epidemic of smallpox occurred in a town near the Kolyma River in eastern Siberia, and up to 40 percent of the population died. Their bodies were quickly buried under the upper layer of permafrost soil. A little more than 100 years later, Kolyma’s flood waters have started eroding the banks.”
Mikhail Grigoriev, Deputy Director of the Permafrost Studies Institute, says “The rock and soil that forms the Yamal Peninsula contains much ice, melting may loosen the soil rather quickly, so the probability is high that old cattle graves may come to the surface.”
Dangers other than smallpox and anthrax might be released from the shallow Arctic graves. Increased melting will possibly unveil centuries – old dangers in the near future.
Some pretty incredible images from Nunavut and the far north. We love posting a glimpse of life in the Arctic since the colors and vastness of the landscape are truly unique and fascinating. The simplicity in life and the enduring landscape give one a sense of timelessness. Churchill summer adventures will soon provide a platform to see and interact with the natural treasures of the Arctic. Enjoy!