Roy Mangersnes - Kong Karls Land
Kong Karls Land is a small group of islands far east in the Svalbard archipelago. It is considered one of the most important breeding areas for the Polar bear, and in a normal good year as many as 50 females will have their dens on the slopes of Kongsøya alone. The islands are heavily protected, but with the changes we see in the global climate this protection might become unnecessary. The winter of 2013-2014 there were no sea ice at all east on Svalbard and the females could not reach these remote islands. Researches only counted two dens the following spring! Together with a suspected higher mortality due to lack of ice and food, I believe the Polar bear population took a heavy blow last spring. Obviously the concern were that this was only the beginning of a downwards spiral bringing the population to an extreme decline. However this summer it seems the whole Polar ice cap has shifted towards Svalbard and Greenland bringing plenty of good hunting ice and an important “road” access to Kong Karls Land, and even the remote Hopen island. This picture was taken in august long before the ice started forming in this area, but already the sea ice was surrounding Kong Karls Land seen in the far distance. The latest ice charts from the area look very promising and I think we will have several females with cubs next year. In the long run however, I am not so sure.
Location: East Svalbard, Norway
Tags: Arctic, conservation, polar bear, Roy Mangesnes, svalbard