Polar Bear Watching in Labrador

Polar Bear Watching in Labrador

  • Labrador
  • Photography
  • Wildlife

Written by Alain Lagacé

Late August marks the end of the short arctic summer, and it's a great time to watch polar bears gathering to fish for migrating arctic char at the mouths of northern Labrador rivers. During this period of char migration, the rivers flowing into the Labrador Sea are filled with thousands of arctic chars and polar bears tend to fish for them in shallow areas.

In a single day a mature bear can catch more than half a dozen char and devour them all. Arctic char are very aggressive anadromous fish whose behavior is in part comparable to salmon. These fish average 5 kg / 10 lbs each and are extremely vigorous.

Polar bears in times of arctic char abundance behave relatively calmly, much like grizzly bears in western Canada who gorge on salmon. For almost a month the bears are busy fishing and fattening while waiting for the pack ice to form on the sea and now is the perfect time to observe them up close and sometimes very closely without disturbing them.

It should be mentioned that the technique of approaching polar bears during the time they fish requires a thorough knowledge of bears, reading and understanding their body language. You have to be very focused and follow the slightest movement and react accordingly.

[With global warming there seems to be more and more concentrations of polar bears fishing in the wild and unknown rivers of northern Labrador.]

When the approach technique is well mastered, there are lots of fish and not too much competition, a single bear can be tolerant up to a distance of 15 meters / 50 feet. Generally the observation is made from 30 and 45 meters. In a single day of observation, several bears can be seen diving into the deepest pools and attempting to fish. With a little luck we sometimes get to see females showing their young how to catch fish.

At this time of year the first snows sometimes cover the tops of the mountains and the Northern Lights add to the spectacle.

The polar bear fishing on the Golden Peninsula is a unique event in the world that we never tire of observing. With global warming there seems to be more and more concentrations of polar bears fishing in the wild and unknown rivers of northern Labrador.

In the summer of 2021 we are organizing an exploration trip dedicated solely to the fishing polar bear. If you would like to be a part of this trip and experience a week of exploring one of the wildest places on the planet, let us know! It will surely be an intense week full of surprises.

If you need help planning your next 2021 Golden Peninsula adventure, let us know.

Alain Lagacé - alain@goldenpeninsulatours.com

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