Tourists Capture Photos of Dozens Polar Bears on Remote Island

May 14, 2019 Updated: June 5, 2019

Off in the distance, tourists thought they were approaching a hillside dotted white specs. Could they be birds, sheep, goats, or something else?

The dots turned out to be the largest land predator in the world.

(Wrangel Island State Reserve)
(Wrangel Island State Reserve)

A bowhead whale carcass washed on the remote Wrangel Island State Nature Reserve near the Northern coast of Siberia, drawing numerous bears.

(Wrangel Island State Reserve)
(Wrangel Island State Reserve)

“You had to live it to believe it, even now there are people pinching themselves to make sure it really happened,” Rodney Russ, Expedition Leader, Owner and Founder of Heritage Expeditions said in his blog.

A news release from Wrangel Island said there are about 230 polar bears there.

(Wrangel Island State Reserve)

“There were male and female bears, some with little bears of all ages, two female bears with 4 little ones. Tourists were lucky to find such unique gathering of bears because the ship has passed by the island. There were scientists and security supervisors on the ship. International scientific group for monitoring population of white bears on Chukotka and Alaska working in that area of the island was informed about the finding. At the moment, thorough scientific observations are made,” the release stated.

Russ, meanwhile, said it was an astounding sight.

(Wrangel Island State Reserve)

“What we saw (and experienced) next will rewrite expedition travel experiences. We were cruising down the coast and saw a ‘herd’ or ‘convention’ of Polar Bears on/near the beach,” he noted.

(Wrangel Island State Reserve)

“There was a dead bowhead whale and we counted over 150 Polar Bears (of all ages, sexes and sizes) that were either feeding or had been feeding on it in the immediate vicinity of the whale. We launched the zodiacs for a closer look and that is the memory we will all carry with us … there are no words to describe it. I share one photo in the hope that it will portray something of our experience,” he added.

Jim Kowalczik with 22-year-old Kodiak bear Jimbo in one of the bear’s enclosures at the Orphaned Wildlife Center in Otisville on Sept. 7, 2016. (James Smith)

Male polar bears can weigh between 800 and 1,500 pounds, according to experts. Kodiak bears, a subspecies of the brown bear, can get to be as large as 1,600 pounds, but they usually aren’t as tall as polar bears.

The largest polar bear ever recorded was in Alaska in 1960, weighing in excess of 2,200 pounds. It was 11 feet tall.

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