Barents Sea, Russia, July 2011

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In the second half of the polar day in the Barents Sea, we were lucky to encounter a polar bear with two cubs on an iceberg floating alone. The cubs hid behind their mom and looked curiously from behind.
Franz Josef Land - is a sort of maternity home to polar bears. The breeding season occurs from March to June. The gestation period of 200-250 days. Polar bears are of low potential for reproduction: the female offspring for the first time brings in the age of 4-8 years, gives birth once every 2-3 years and brings 1-3 cubs, thus bringing to life for no more than 10-15 cubs during life period. Newborns helpless, like all bears, and have a mass about 750 grams. At 3 months, a female with cubs leaves the den and turns to a traveling lifestyle. Cubs remain with her until 1.5 years, during this time a female bear feeds them with her milk.
Very sorry to say but most likely the fate of these bears is not so encouraging. The floe on which the family was drifting too far from the archipelago, and apparently carried it over to the south. The floe will gradually melt, sot the family will have to swim. If a bear and (possibly, but not a fact) can swim up to the dense cover, the cubs are just not strong enough. Officially recorded case (with GPS), when the bear swam 420 miles (778km) for nine days, with losing a one year cub.

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