Nanuk 2

 

Polar bears were the world’s largest land predators. They topped the food chain in the Arctic, where they dined primarily on seals. Adult male polar bears weighed from 775 to more than 1,500 pounds. Females were considerably smaller, normally weighing 330 to 550 pounds.

Polar bears only rarely caught seals in open water. They were far more successful at hunting them on the sea ice. On the ice, the bears caught their prey when they surfaced to breathe.

Rifts in the ice, called leads, gave seals access to oxygen. Seals also surfaced to breathe at polynyas, areas of open water surrounded by ice. Polynyas were created by a combination of winds, tidal currents and up-welling of water. They remained open throughout the winter months.

 

In addition to surfacing at leads and polynyas, seals cut breathing holes in the ice. In the autumn months each seal cuts 10 to 15 breathing holes in the ice by using the sharp claws on its fore flippers. Seals kept the breathing holes open throughout the winter, even when the ice was six feet deep. Seals swam to the surface to breathe every five to 15 minutes, but because they visited as many as 15 breathing holes, a Polar Bear’s wait for its prey could have been a long one. Polar Bears located breathing holes with their powerful sense of smell. When a bear finds one, it waited patiently for the seal to surface - which could take hours or even days.

They depended on the presence of ice for access to seals. In summer, when the flows retreated north, polar bears travelled hundreds of miles to maintain contact with their prey. Those bears that were stranded on land in summer have to stay there until the ice formed again in winter.  On land, the bears faced lean times, for they seldom caught seals without a platform of ice. Ice and the snow gave them life, brought them food and provided them with dens for their young,

 

But now there was none….

How did this happen? Where did the ice go?

It started to happen over 100 years ago. Man made it happen. The want of man, the craving for irrelevant material things at any cost, made it happen. The total disregard for nature, of the other species that shared the Earth, made it happen. The pollution of the atmosphere, the sea, the land, made it happen.

 

As Nanuk walked along the shoreline trying to find fresh, clean meat he caught the scent of some humans in the wind. A few hours later the humans came across him in a small cove. they were a band of wandering, starving Inuit’s.  They had a lot in common with Nanuk in this forlorn barren land. When their surprised gazes were turned upon him, they at first stood still, stared, then fell on their knees and cried a mournful chant to him, an ancient prayer to him. Tears rolled down their cheeks as they watched him pass, this lonely wanderer of the north in a white coat, this lonely, magnificent creature, for he was lonely…he would always be lonely for…He was the last one…