A young polar bear prepares to feast on the remains of a bowhead whale, harvested legally by whalers during their annual subsistence hunt, just outside the Inupiat village of Kaktovik, Alaska on Sept. 11, 2017.
The rise in global temperatures is having a very real, and very devastating, effect on Arctic ice formation, diminishing its scope and delaying its seasonal buildup. That scarcity means Alaskan polar bears can’t reach their traditional hunting grounds until later in fall.
Land-bound and hungry, 60 of these predators have learned to gather outside the village, feasting on the scraps from the annual hunt.
The baleen from a bowhead whale.
The hunt is deemed vital for the community, providing thousands of pounds of food as well as a direct link to the Inupiat's cultural identity.
A mother polar bear and two of her cubs gather on a barrier island after feeding on the remains of a bowhead whale.
A young polar bear eats the remains of a bowhead whale.
Polar bears gather on a barrier island.
When the bears come, so do camera-toting tourists, floating on small guide boats a few hundred feet offshore.
Residents saw pieces of whale.
After residents carve and distribute the meat and blubber, a front loader carries what remains of the carcass to a bone pile at the far end of town.
Polar bears prepare to feed on the remains of a whale.