Polar Bear Blog

Record polar bear sightings highlight best summer ever at Seal River Heritage Lodge

Remember to always smell the flowers. At Seal River. Judith Herrdum photo.
Remember to always smell the flowers at Seal River. Judith Herrdum photo.

“This has been without a doubt one of our finest summers on the Hudson Bay coast,” said Churchill Wild co-owner and founder Mike Reimer. “A winter of record breaking snowfalls followed by unprecedented flooding this spring morphed into a fabulously beautiful summer.”

“Whale swims and polar bear excursions have been blessed with seemingly endless opportunities to hit the water due to exceptionally great weather. The beluga whales have been incredible, but the polar bears this year even more so. It wasn’t a question of whether we would see a bear but rather how many we would see. Our best day was 18 bears at the lodge or in the river mouth and all the bears we’ve seen have been fat and healthy.”

"It doesn't get any better than this," said the polar bear. Judith Herrdum photo.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said the polar bear. Judith Herrdum photo.

More than one guest on this year’s Birds, Bears and Belugas adventures put together photo albums and a video is also in the works. Guest Eric Chan of posted 36 photos from his Birds, Bears and Belugas experience, and Carol Beasley posted five albums from her Birds, Bears and Belugas adventure including Polar Bears, Birds, Other Beasts, Land-Sea-Sky and Friends. Ann Storrie also sent us an album of polar bears, people, belugas and wildlife photos that provides future guests with a great idea of what they’ll experience Birds, Bears and Belugas.

Numerous polar bear family groups have been a thrill at Seal River this year, the best of all being a sow and three cute little cubs that have been spotted on several occasions near the lodge. Polar bear cub triplets are the sight of a lifetime and this rare treat was only the second in Churchill Wild’s history for owners Mike and Jeanne Reimer. It was the first time ever for 10-year veteran polar bear guide Terry Elliot!

Guests loved the bears and belugas this summer and the film crew with us this summer collected images beyond their most optimistic expectations. Not only has Seal River Heritage Lodge being used regularly now by polar bear scientists, beluga whale and ice researchers, it is also becoming a haven for wildlife film producers, photographers and most anyone interested in our beloved white bears.

Polar bear sparring at Seal River. Judith Herrdum photo.
Polar bear sparring at Seal River. Judith Herrdum photo.

In recent seasons we have discovered that Seal River is home to the only polar bears on the planet that actively hunt beluga whales. A very talented and ingenious population of summer resident polar bears have perfected the fine art of capturing beluga whales at the mouth of our river. This is a huge boon to bears that would normally be fasting from the spring break up in July to ice-in at the end of November. One beluga holds over a million calories of highly nutritional yum-yums for a hungry polar bear!

The polar bears hunting belugas have now been captured on film, we believe for the first time ever and the yet-to-be-named films will be coming soon to a big screen near you very soon! We can’t reveal the source at this point, but here’s what they had to say about their stay with us at Seal River.

“As a wildlife film crew we’ve been all over the world, but rarely have we received a warmer welcome than at Seal River Heritage Lodge. No matter how odd our hours or challenging our request, nothing was too much trouble. The lodge sits majestically overlooking Hudson Bay, the rooms are comfy, the lounge areas luxurious and the food exquisite.  But what makes the place truly special is the close encounters with polar bears and beluga whales.  Once you’ve heard the breath of a big white bear while on foot and snorkelled with curious, singing whales swimming right up to your face to check you out, you’re spoiled for life. To top it off the staff were tireless in their positive, friendly, can-do attitude. One of the best teams I’ve ever worked with. There’s nowhere quite like Seal River Lodge in the world.”

It’s difficult to top that, but we also had some fabulous wonderful comments from guests in our post trip surveys!

“It was thrilling and the trip of a lifetime,” said Cheryl Farmer. “Seeing polar bears up close, watching them in their natural habitat is unbelievably exciting. Highly unusual to get to go into the water and snorkel with Beluga Whales! They come up swirling around you, looking at you with their smiley faces and just have you smiling through the whole experience. The whole Hudson Bay habitat is so different from anything else I have seen and it was fascinating. Being pampered guests at an outstanding remote lodge is an exceptional, relaxed experience that I will not forget.”

Polar bear gives us a wary look while walking along the bay. Judith Herrdum photo.
Polar bear gives us a wary look while walking along the bay. Judith Herrdum photo.

“One of the most environmentally aware ecotourism companies I have had the pleasure to encounter,” said Ann Storrie. “I would recommend it to all nature photographers and those concerned with our fast changing natural world.”

Excellent reviews of Seal River Heritage Lodge were also posted on TripAdvisor after Birds, Bears and Belugas, and exceptional reviews of Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge were already starting to appear after the first few weeks of our season there, but perhaps the guest comment below sums up everything best.

“If it’s not on your bucket list it should be.” ~ Scott Wynn.

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