Polar Bears Tour Ursa Major Boat Exhibit
Updated: Apr 27
Friends of Aurora Bearealis (see friends' footprints in photo 1 and Aurora in photo 2), recently toured our exhibition of wooden boats laid out as the constellation Ursa Major (aka Big Dipper) on landfast sea ice near the Arctic village of Utqiaġvik Alaska.
Unfortunately, we weren’t on site to welcome them, but Marine Biologist, Kate Stafford from Oregon State University (OSU), discovered traces of their visit during her tour of the exhibit yesterday (Picture 1, 3 -5, and Video 1). The large paw tracks in the pictures below are prints from a mother bear and the smaller prints were made by the two cubs. One of the wooden boats appears to have been handled or bitten by the bears (picture 3). Ms. Bearealis was so embarrassed by her cubs behavior, however, the student Anne Osoosa at Whittier Community School on Prince William Sound in southern Alaska who decorated this particular boat was ecstatic that a bear actually played with their boat. “I mean come on, how many kids can say their art provides toys for threatened creatures?” said Rachel Patton, teacher at Chugach School District.
Later in the day Dr. Stafford met the family as they were strolling on the sea ice (Picture 6). Mama bear apologized for Junior using one of the boats as a toothpick, and promised that the cubs would behave better in future visits and not touch the art. Dr. Stafford asked mama bear not to worry since the wooden boats are there for all to learn and enjoy in their own way, and happy that the bear family can connect with students in Alaska, the lower 48 states of the USA, and Italy too.
Video 1 above by Dr. Kate Stafford following the tracks of the bears.
Acknowledgements and Disclaimers:
Picture 2 by Ben Evans, Lincoln Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; remaining pictures and video provided by Dr. Kate Stafford, Marine Mammal Institute, Oregon State University.
Pictures are real. Story is pure fiction. No bears were actually approached for this story.