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The photographer and the three bears... Seal River Lodge. Birds, Bears and Belugas. Photo courtesy of Shari Wright

The photographer and the three bears… Photo courtesy of Shari Wright.

by Terry Elliott, Andy MacPherson and Mandy Wallmann

Churchill Wild hosted documentary filmmaker Jeff Turner last week. Jeff came to scout the mouth of the Seal River as a possible setting for “Pouncing Bears” and he was able to catch one in the act!

We watched the polar bear from a distance as he patiently waited for the chance to leap onto a whale’s back, and his chance finally came. He spotted his prey, tensed for the leap, and launched himself into the midst of a pod of passing beluga whales. An explosion of activity ensued — bodies thrashing and water erupting frantically for a long moment, before he pulled himself back onto his perch and searched for his prey.

Missed it by thaaaaaat much!

Considering there were 3,000 more belugas nearby, I’m sure this polar bear got another chance. Jeff was blown away to find exactly what he was looking for on his first trip to the mouth of the Seal River.

The next day we spent the afternoon down at the river mouth again, this time watching NINE bears, including two sets of mothers and cubs and three large males, feed on a whale carcass. The ladies were having a little disagreement at the dinner table, probably over who would get the head and who would get the tail, but the dispute was settled after a little posturing and raised voices.

Jeff actually watched the guest of honor get hunted by two bears just prior to our arrival. Sadly, we had to leave the party early. The tide was going out and the water was disappearing beneath us.

When we returned to the Lodge, Bob the polar bear was there to meet us, wandering down to the water’s edge, climbing on top of a large boulder, and posing for the cameras before dozing off in the sunshine, as a cool breeze swept over the bay.

Later in the day, a mother and two older cubs came right up to the lodge and checked us all out, looking through the windows and testing the unwelcome mats before wandering off into the sunset.

To end another fine day at Seal River.

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