Our first polar bears of the year, too bad they were in the Anchorage airport.
For those Ice Road Trucker fans out there, here's a picture of the Brooks Range as it meets the North Slope. These mountains contain the feared Atigun Pass that the truckers have so much trouble with.
I also saw a number of caribou in August. This one was ambling across the airport in Deadhorse.
Check it out, there are wildflowers on the North Slope in the summer! I have no idea what kind of flower this is, any botanists out there?
Here's the Arctic ocean. The ice pack was about 100 miles off the shore when I was here in August. Interestingly, I never saw any large waves coming in like you would on most beaches.
For those of you who don't know, I'm up here to help with the Polar Bear Summer Ecology Project. When the sea ice retreats from the North Slope of Alaska every summer, a number of polar bears follow the retreating ice pack while a separate population of bears remains on shore. Because of declining sea ice, the shore bears are experiencing longer periods of time on shore, conditions that include warm temperatures and a general lack of prey availability. Polar bears in the Hudson Bay undergo a similar situation every summer and respond by entering a state of metabolic depression termed “walking hibernation” to cope with the lack of food. However, polar bears in the Hudson Bay area are undergoing a population decline as longer ice free periods increase the amount of time bears are stranded on land. The polar bear summer ecology project is interested in seeing how the population of bears on land compares to the population of bears that follow the ice. Bears from both populations are captured in the late spring and a variety of measurements and samples are taken. Bears are recaptured and additional measurements are taken in the fall. Data from the project will help us better understand bear movement and physiology during the summer period and will eventually be incorporated into population models to inform management and conservation strategies under conditions of changing sea ice. For a more in-depth background of the project, check out the website: www.uwyo.edu/POLARBEAR
Well, I think I'll end this for today. It sounds like our first day looking for bears will be either Sunday or Monday.