I was photographing coastal scenery on the Skagi peninsula in May. Before I started working on the beach I scanned the coastline with my binoculars, just to ensure that there wasn’t something big and yellow walking around. I wasn’t all that concerned about encountering a Polar Bear and a few years ago the thought wouldn’t even have crossed my mind that such an encounter was actually possible in Iceland. But during the past three years we’ve had four Polar Bears walk on land and two of them were at Skagi in May. So just in case I scanned the surroundings.
Bears that come here from Greenland have had to swim a long way to reach shore and most of the recent bears have been in bad shape when they were discovered. They were all shot as there’s currently no other plan for bears that show up. Greenland doesn’t want them back, considers a bear that finds its way to Iceland a lost and dead one. So they get killed when they’re discovered.
I experienced wild Polar Bears for the first time in early June this year. I was on a photography cruise in Svalbard and we had a number of encounters with bears. Being in the presence of these magnificent animals was one of my most memorable wildlife experiences and to meet them in their high-Arctic kingdom is truly the way to see them. More on Svalbard later.