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This Is What a Dozen Polar Bears Eating a Whale Carcass Looks Like

October 3, 2012, 1:49am
Above photo: Loren Holmes, via Nat Geo

Every year, way up in northern Alaska, traditional Inupiat hunters harpoon whales and drag them onto beaches to be butchered. In Kaktovik, the tradition has lasted at least 50 years. According to Loren Holmes, who shot the photo above for the Alaska Dispatch, polar bears show up yearly to scarf down the rotting leftovers the Inupiat leave behind.

Photo: Joel Sartore, via Nat Geo

This year’s hunt attracted up to 80 bears a day (!) to the village, which is apparently the most on record. It’s been speculated that, as Arctic ice disappears, the big white bears end up spending more time during the summer on land, and thus have had more time to find the giant treats left behind by the Inupiat. There isn’t enough empirical evidence to accept that hypothesis just yet. But what is certain is that when there’s giant hunks of fatty whale meat to be found, polar bears won’t be far away.

Photo: Loren Holmes, via Nat Geo