Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 72 - 1.26.16

As large and impressive as they might be, polar bears pale in certain comparison to the vastness of the Arctic. The bowhead whale, pictured here in relatively correct scale (with a larger whale and a smaller bear) is one of the main reasons for the polar bear population that we witnessed in Kaktovik, Alaska on the edge of the 1002 and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Subsistence hunting allows the native population in Kaktovik to take three whales each year as a part of their annual whale hunt. The remaining bone pile -- on the outskirts of town beyond the airstrip -- becomes a draw for polar bears that are stranded closer to the mainland by receding pack ice. In the photo below you can see my daughter Keeley standing in front of a bowhead whale skull - one of the only times that we didn't see bears picking through the bones!

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