Cindy Smith News :: Polar Bears and Beluga Whales-Churchill,

Posted: 9/19/2014 12:54:05 AM   Page Views 1653   Comments 0

The tour and the town of Churchill

The town of Churchill is at the confluence of the Sub-Arctic, Arctic and Marine ecosystems, making it a rich ecological destination. The town of Churchill has around 1000 residents and 900-1000 Polar Bears. There are 25 Polar Bear populations around the arctic circumpolar region. Churchill’s Polar Bear population is considered part of the Hudson Bay west population with another population of bears on the east side of the Hudson Bay. When looking at a map of Manitoba, you will see that Churchill sits in the crook of a backwards facing right angle bend of the Hudson Bay. In this area of the Hudson Bay, the current moves counter-clockwise, this results in the currents grabbing fresh water from the Hudson River and mixing with the salt water of the Hudson Bay. Because of this mix of salt and fresh water, the water around Churchill has less salinity in it. This means it freezes sooner than the surrounding area, allowing the Polar bears an earlier access to the ice and the seals, despite this being a sub-arctic climate.
Also the Hudson Bay around Churchill is home to over 4000 migrating and breeding Beluga whales during July and August. Belugas, which mean “the white one” in Russian, are found around the arctic and subarctic waters around the world. Belugas are considered the most vocal whales in the world, often called the “sea canaries”. Belugas, despite being 10-15 feet in length, are very curious and gentle creatures. It was my hope on this trip to get to swim with them in the icy waters of the Bay with a 7mm thick full wetsuit keeping me warm and comfortable.

Though, Polar bears and Belugas are the main draw in Churchill. One can also spot other wildlife. In fact, the spring time is a birders and bird photographer’s paradise. Besides the springtime, the hopes during the summer are to see Arctic Foxes, Willow Ptarmigans, Red-throated Loons, Common Eider and more.

A note of interest:

The tour guides were very

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