Animals

By Dilantha Dissanayake

 

This is the extraordinary moment three hungry polar bears fought for food – before eventually deciding to share a meal together.

The huge bears were spotted battling for survival in Svalbard, Norway, before appearing to call a truce.

Stunning shots of the polar bears wrestling over a seal carcass with blood-splattered faces were captured by photographer, Frida Hermansson.

The 39-year-old, from Sweden, has been leading photo tours and workshops in the area for more than a decade but said she was humbled to see the incredible encounter so close up.

She said: “We found one bear that had captured a bearded seal and eaten most of it on the ice. There was blood everywhere and the bear was full, just laying beside the carcass.

“Suddenly another bear approached us and the first bear just walked away. She took a swim, rolled around and just tried to digest the big meal.

“The second bear, also a female, started feasting on the carcass, but after a few minutes she suddenly looked up and gazed towards the horizon.

“Far away in the distant mists we could see the silhouette of a third bear.

“The third bear came quickly towards us. Running on the ice and swimming between the ice chunks.

“When he got closer we could see that it was a large male, but he was very thin and you could see the ribs and spine through the thick fur. Clearly he was hungry.

“He went straight towards the second bear that stood by the carcass and they started to roar at each other.

“Suddenly the big male jumped at the female and slammed her into the ice.

“She wandered of, took a swim, rolled in the snow and looked really sad. But suddenly her eyes changed and she looked at the eating male with her head held high and a determined look.

“She got up and started to walk back towards him. He looked quite surprised and once again the roared at each other. And then came the attack.

“Twice they fought, but then the male realized she wasn’t giving up this time.

“They both took the carcass and pulled it into two pieces.

“When we left them they ate in peace beside each other.

“It was a humbling feeling to witness this encounter up close.

“I could actually feel their roaring almost physically.

“They are such powerful and strong animals and it was amazing to experience that this way.

“It was sad to see the male bear so hungry and thin. That says a lot about how the climate changes affect this part of the world.

“But it was also a joy that it ended this way – all three bears being fed and with no visible injuries despite the multiple fights between them.

“This time it all had a happy ending.”