Award-winning wildlife photographer and guide Paul Goldstein spent eight days in the Canadian territory of Nunavut, where he had a special encounter with a mama polar bear and her cubs. After taking a snowmobile to a remote part of Baffin Island, which is known for its year-round polar bear population, Goldstein set out to explore. Thanks to the help of local Innuit trackers, he happened upon a spectacular scene.
For about four hours, Goldstein had the pleasure of watching a mother polar bear and her cubs as they went about their day. Whether they were out exploring or snuggled together in the snow, the mama bear always kept close watch on her babies. It was a magical moment for Goldstein, who had no guarantee to see any polar bears, nonetheless an entire family.
Goldstein is well aware of how lucky he was to get these photographs. Even after 25 years in the photography game, it's always a thrill for him to capture such special moments. He hopes that people will look at these images and realize just how fragile these ecosystems are, and how important it is to protect them. “It would be encouraging if the same image could be taken 50 or 100 years from now,” Goldstein tells My Modern Met.
According to a 2020 article, the Baffin Island polar bear population is stable at around 2,800. The polar bears spend time on land when sea ice isn't available, but as soon as the waters freeze over, they are on the ice and on the lookout for their main food staple—seals.
Interestingly, polar bears usually give birth to twins. This allows a better chance for at least one cub to make it into adulthood. Given the harsh Arctic environment they grow up in, this evolution is understandable. Polar bear cubs will normally stay with their mother for two-and-half to three years. During that time, she'll teach them all the survival skills that they will need to thrive. This includes hunting, swimming, and feeding. But, as Goldstein's photos clearly show, there's still plenty of time for cuddles.