Big 5s

Thomas D Mangelsen

Photographer

“My number one animal would be the polar bear. They are so beautiful and they live in a really challenging place, which is even more challenging now because of the climate change

They’re difficult to photograph. They are animated. They do the play fighting. They could be very dangerous in a situation if you are alone on the ice because they are total carnivores, unlike grizzly bears who eat berries and grasses. Polar bears are the most powerful creature in the north, the top of the food chain. Their behaviour is very interesting, such as the way they treat their young; they are very protective of their young of course.

The Inuits have made all these beautiful carving of polar bears because of their silhouettes and their shapes are in and of themselves beautiful. The history of the Inuit with polar bears is important, as polar bears were in their legends, and their storytelling is compelling to me.

I’ve been going for 12 years to photograph polar bears in Churchill, Hudson Bay and northern Hudson Bay, and spent every season in the sub-Arctic looking for that great polar bear image that said it all. After 12 years and 100,000 images, I had a collection of images. But that particular Polar Dance photo was taken on a blustery day, with whit out conditions. I was with a good friend of mine, Fred Bruemmer, who is a famous polar writer, photographer and philosopher from Canada. We were with a few friends and we said it’s too crappy out, the light is too bad, conditions are too poor, so Fred and I just went out and took the chance that we would find something. We found these two bears that were play-fighting in the snowstorm and it was just magical because they got up and they danced, in a way. They look like they are dancing; that’s our human take of it, which is they do that for fun and to make themselves more fit for catching seals later. It was just one of those really magical days. Fred and I just looked at each other when it was all over and said “Wow.”

When we got back to our friends, they said: “Did you see anything? And we said: “Yeah, just a couple of bears.”

I’ve seen how climate change is impacting on polar bears. I was in Hudson Bay in Manitoba a few years ago, where we waited for a female bear to come out every day. She came out and she walked 35 miles from their den to Hudson Bay to the ice. At that period of time, the mother had been using her polar fat reserves to nurse the newborns, and they were little, probably about 10 pounds or maybe less, only a couple of months old. They had to walk 35 miles to get to Hudson Bay to get on the ice where hopefully the mother could catch a seal to replenish her reserves and her fat stock. The cubs are dependent on that and so is the mother, but there was no ice for them to walk out on.

We realized that the ice was way out, so we just hoped that the wind would change and that would bring the ice to them, but normally that would still be frozen solid. That is a very good example of climate change. Bears can’t get out, so they can’t eat anything because all the seals are out on the ice and the polar bears need a platform to catch the seals who are lounging and giving birth out on the ice.”

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Photo by Thomas D Mangelsen

My Big 5

    Polar Bear
    Elephant
    Rhino
    Tiger
    Grizzly Bear

Thomas D Mangelsen

Photographer

“My number one animal would be the polar bear. They are so beautiful and they live in a really challenging place, which is even more challenging now because of the climate change

They’re difficult to photograph. They are animated. They do the play fighting. They could be very dangerous in a situation if you are alone on the ice because they are total carnivores, unlike grizzly bears who eat berries and grasses. Polar bears are the most powerful creature in the north, the top of the food chain. Their behaviour is very interesting, such as the way they treat their young; they are very protective of their young of course.

The Inuits have made all these beautiful carving of polar bears because of their silhouettes and their shapes are in and of themselves beautiful. The history of the Inuit with polar bears is important, as polar bears were in their legends, and their storytelling is compelling to me.

I’ve been going for 12 years to photograph polar bears in Churchill, Hudson Bay and northern Hudson Bay, and spent every season in the sub-Arctic looking for that great polar bear image that said it all. After 12 years and 100,000 images, I had a collection of images. But that particular Polar Dance photo was taken on a blustery day, with whit out conditions. I was with a good friend of mine, Fred Bruemmer, who is a famous polar writer, photographer and philosopher from Canada. We were with a few friends and we said it’s too crappy out, the light is too bad, conditions are too poor, so Fred and I just went out and took the chance that we would find something. We found these two bears that were play-fighting in the snowstorm and it was just magical because they got up and they danced, in a way. They look like they are dancing; that’s our human take of it, which is they do that for fun and to make themselves more fit for catching seals later. It was just one of those really magical days. Fred and I just looked at each other when it was all over and said “Wow.”

When we got back to our friends, they said: “Did you see anything? And we said: “Yeah, just a couple of bears.”

I’ve seen how climate change is impacting on polar bears. I was in Hudson Bay in Manitoba a few years ago, where we waited for a female bear to come out every day. She came out and she walked 35 miles from their den to Hudson Bay to the ice. At that period of time, the mother had been using her polar fat reserves to nurse the newborns, and they were little, probably about 10 pounds or maybe less, only a couple of months old. They had to walk 35 miles to get to Hudson Bay to get on the ice where hopefully the mother could catch a seal to replenish her reserves and her fat stock. The cubs are dependent on that and so is the mother, but there was no ice for them to walk out on.

We realized that the ice was way out, so we just hoped that the wind would change and that would bring the ice to them, but normally that would still be frozen solid. That is a very good example of climate change. Bears can’t get out, so they can’t eat anything because all the seals are out on the ice and the polar bears need a platform to catch the seals who are lounging and giving birth out on the ice.”

Photo by Thomas D Mangelsen

My Big 5

    Polar Bear
    Elephant
    Rhino
    Tiger
    Grizzly Bear

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