Po­lar pas de deux

Eilo Elvinger, Lux­em­bourg

Amateur Photographer - - Wildlife Photographer Of The Year -

Win­ner 2017, Black and white

From her ship, an­chored in the icy wa­ters off Sval­bard in Arc­tic Nor­way, Eilo spot­ted a po­lar bear and her two-year- old cub in the dis­tance, slowly draw­ing closer. Po­lar bears are known as hun­ters, mainly of seals, but they are also op­por­tunists. Near­ing the ship, they were di­verted to a patch of snow soaked in leak­age from the ves­sel’s kitchen and be­gan to lick it. ‘I was ashamed of our con­tri­bu­tion to the im­mac­u­late land­scape’, says Eilo, ‘and of how this in­flu­enced the bears’ be­hav­iour.’ Mir­ror­ing each other, with back legs pressed to­gether (cub on the right), they tasted the stained snow in syn­chrony. Such broad paws make fine swim­ming pad­dles and help the bears to tread on thin ice, and their im­pres­sive non-re­tractable claws – more than 5cm (2in) long – act like ice picks for a bet­ter grip. Mind­ful of the species’ shrink­ing habi­tat – cli­mate change is re­duc­ing the Arc­tic sea ice on which the bears de­pend – Eilo framed her shot tightly, choos­ing black & white to ‘re­flect the pol­lu­tion as a shadow cast on the pris­tine en­vi­ron­ment’. Canon EOS-1DX, 200–400mm f/4, 1/640sec at f/9 (+0.7 e/v), ISO 6400

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