Alaska December 07, 2017
This Island Village In Alaska Has More Polar Bears Than People
Kaktovik is a place far away from modern civilization on the edge of the world, and very popular with polar bears. The village lies on Barter Island in the Beaufort Sea, and this was historically an important place for Alaskan Inupiaq and Canadian Inuit people to trade. Originally a fishing spot, Kaktovik became the main town of the island when a runway was constructed in the 1950s. This island village has seen an increase in polar bear sighting over the past decade and now, they seem to be everywhere in this remote place.
Barter Island is about four miles long and two miles wide at it's widest. Kaktovik has a population of 239 people in a town that is less than one square mile in size.
As time marches on, the people of Kaktovik live together in a traditional way, subsisting primarily on whale and caribou. The predominate culture is Inupiaq and most of the people are indigenous.
Thirty years ago, polar bears were rarely seen here, but the Arctic sea ice has been melting and the majestic animals have been moving onto the shores of the coastal islands and mainland Alaska.
Now that the polar bears are readily accessible, a huge tourism boom has come to Kaktovik. Over 1000 visitors a year now visit the island village to see the polar bears.
The animals are fascinating to watch as they feed and play. These two are having a confrontation over a piece of whale meat on the beach.
These enormous creatures are fierce predators who also love to play. Polar bears can sometimes be seen playing with sticks, like this cub pouncing on a stick in the icy waters.
The animals that hunt near Kaktovik are from the southern Beaufort Sea population of polar bear. Kaktovik is popular with the bears becuase the town harvests whale meat each year and the bone pile draws hungry animals.
Kaktovik is also the only village inside the 19.6 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Polars bears are most prevalent in the fall while they are waiting for the sea ice to harden up so they can venture north.
If you visit this incredible place to see the polar bears up close, be prepared for the extreme conditions of the arctic. Polar bears, on the other hand, are always dressed for the cold.
Learn more about the arctic in
The Sun Just Set For The Last Time In 2017 For This One Alaska Town and The Alaska Beach That’s Unlike Any Other In The World.
Have you been to Kaktovik, or do you live there? Tell us about it in the comments below.