Operating ecolodges in polar bear country for the past 26 years has left us with a collection of incredible memories. The Canadian north is full of surprises and just when we think we’ve seen it all, something else happens that leaves us speechless.
Thanks to guides who put us in the right place at the right time, and guests who capture these memorable moments, we’re able to share this series of our ‘wildest moments’ to show just how magical the Hudson Bay coast is.
These are the rare encounters that make us extra grateful to live and work in one of the most remote and pristine places on earth.
1. Before we expanded and renovated Seal River Heritage Lodge a few years ago, there were a couple guestroom windows that polar bears could walk right up to. Though the window had bars, this bear wanted to get as close as possible! Looking for a soft bed to sleep in perhaps?
2. Bears often come close to our fenced-in compounds to check things out, but they rarely stand up and try to give a high-five like this!
3–7. Most of the species that inhabit the Hudson Bay coast and boreal forest are rather solitary creatures, and some, like the wolverine, are very elusive. The wildlife meetups seen in these five photos definitely fall into the ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ category for most of us!
8-9. Polar bears are very curious creatures. Sometimes it gets them into trouble (think: getting too close to an electric fence!) and sometimes it’s just fun to see them explore. We keep an eye on the bears to make sure they don’t damage anything or injure themselves, but like us when we have a new toy, they usually lose interest pretty quickly.
10-11. Our first time seeing a mama polar bear with her newborn cubs was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Those who witnessed it firsthand shed more than a few tears and those of us who lived it through pictures have been begging to be a part of our Den Emergence trip ever since.
12. Approximately two out of every three pregnancies result in twins, but polar bear triplets are very rare. This was only the second time we’ve seen a mom with three cubs, and the first time we got a photo of it!
Lights in the Wild
13. Northern lights aren’t a rare occurrence, per se, but seeing them over the moon sure is!
14. We only operate our tundra camp for a few nights each September, so this is another photo that only a handful of people will ever have.
15. Each summer, thousands of beluga whales fill the bay to calve and feed. Last year, a handful of our guests were treated to the sight of a pod teaching a newborn calf how to swim. They brought it close to our boat, seemingly to say, “look at our new baby!” and kept nudging it towards the surface when it would start to sink. Soon enough, the young whale figured things out and the pod swam away, but not before leaving us speechless.
16. We often see polar bears using the water to stay cool during the hot months of July and August, but this was a memorable sighting, to say the least!
17. The weather on the Hudson Bay coast is unpredictable and oftentimes wild. Usually, when it starts to storm, polar bears will bed down to avoid expending the precious calories it would take to move around in howling winds. This bear’s curiosity obviously got the better of him/her, and resulted in this memorable encounter.
18. Snow in September! Guests on our Arctic Safari woke to this frosty scene one morning and made the best of it with a snowball fight!
Put Up Your Paws!
19. Bears spar in the late fall to get ready for competitive mating season out the ice. Seeing this behaviour in the summer is unusual because just walking can cause them to overheat…
20. …maybe that’s why they took it to the water!
21. After having no sightings of the Qamanirjuaq caribou herd for a few years, on one glorious morning in November of 2016 their migratory path brought them right past Seal River Heritage Lodge. Imagine standing at one of the lounge windows and suddenly seeing thousands of caribou pouring over the ridge!
22. There’s a daytrip we sometimes do with guests during the summer months that takes us to a spot called Hubbard Point, up the coast from Seal River Heritage Lodge. Here, the fireweed we see in small patches near the lodge grows rampant, covering vast swaths of tundra.
No list of our wildest and most favourite memories would be complete without one of the photos from Dennis Fast’s infamous series of bears in fireweed.
Check out our photo galleries for more of our favourites!
Polar Bear Photo Safari