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Redbubble Featured Photography October 2012
A very cute Polar Bear Cub (Ursus maritimus) playfully rolling in the snow on the shores of the Beaufort Sea, Kaktovik, Alaska, USA
The village of Kaktovik is situated on Barter Island, a small island 3 miles by 2 miles just off the arctic coastline from ANWR. The island has a large saltwater lagoon located on the east side which provides sheltered anchorage for village fishing vessels.
The village is inhabited by approximately 250 Native Inupiat “Eskimo” people whose subsistence has been dependent on hunting marine mammals and whales for thousands of years and in a tightly controlled hunt permitted by federal law are allowed a harvest quota of three bowhead whales during the hunting season.
The carcasses of the butchered whales are left on the beaches and provide an attractive food source on which polar Bears can scavenge. Pack ice covers this area of the Beaufort Sea surface for 9 months of the year and during this time the bears feed mainly on seals that live under the arctic ice. However in mid summer when the pack ice moves offshore the polar bears are often marooned on shore where food sources are limited. The bears often therefore enter the fall season hungry and have keyed into the valuable food source provided by the carcasses of he butchered whales.
The polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species, with eight of the nineteen polar bear subpopulations in decline, and remains a key figure in the material, spiritual, and cultural life of Arctic indigenous peoples.