Polar Bear Webcams Bring Wapusk to the World!

Linda Sutterlin-Duguid
Public Outreach and Education Officer, Manitoba Field Unit

Wapusk News - Volume 6, 2013

Webcam image of polar bears at Cape Churchill Webcam image of polar bears at Cape Churchill
© explore.org

The 2012 Polar Bear Season in northern Manitoba attracted the anticipated train and plane loads of eager visitors, hoping for a glimpse of these iconic animals in their natural habitat. This year also brought thousands of “virtual” visitors into Wapusk National Park (NP). These armchair travelers were able to experience the annual congregation of polar bears along the Hudson Bay coast through their computers, tablets and smartphones.

A New Webcam in Wapusk National Park

For several years, Polar Bears International (PBI) has been working with Frontiers North Adventures, an authorized commercial tour operator in Wapusk NP, to operate two very popular polar bear webcams broadcasting from tundra vehicles.

In 2012, for the first time, PBI and explore.org placed a webcam on a remote tower at Cape Churchill, in Wapusk NP, and broadcast live footage from November 5th to 26th. You can watch past highlights from 2012 on the explore.org website.

The polar bear cams operated by explore.org attract millions of viewers worldwide yearly. In 2012, the three webcams in Churchill totalled more than half a million online pageviews in addition to the estimated one million views on CNN. The new Cape Churchill webcam attracted approximately 5,000 viewers watching daily for polar bears! Twitter and Facebook were abuzz as people excitedly shared polar bear sightings from these webcams. An article announcing the new polar bear webcam was also among the most popular topics on the Parks Canada website.

A tiny spot in a vast landscape, the new polar bear webcam is mounted on the tower seen here at Cape Churchill A tiny spot in a vast landscape, the new polar bear webcam is mounted on the tower seen here at Cape Churchill
© Parks Canada

Watch for Webcams in 2013

Planning has begun for the operation of the Cape Churchill webcam again in the fall of 2013. Parks Canada is excited to be working with PBI and explore.org to offer this window on the polar bears’ world in Wapusk NP. Like Parks Canada, both of these organizations are dedicated to providing authentic learning experiences about wildlife.

Cape Churchill Webcam – The Bear Facts …

Polar bear Polar bear
© Parks Canada

Chances are, you will see mostly large male polar bears on the Cape Churchill webcam. These big males claim this prime coastal area pushing out the smaller bears (juveniles and mothers with cubs). The male bears, seen in autumn along coastal areas like Cape Churchill, are waiting for the ice to form on the Bay. Once they are back on the ice they are able to hunt seals again.

While male bears, non-breeding females and juveniles gather along the coast, waiting for the ice, the pregnant females are in the denning areas, approximately 70 km inland, within Wapusk NP. The cubs are born from late November to early December. Mothers and cubs emerge from the dens in February/ March to make the trek to Hudson Bay, where the females begin their hunting season.

Parks Canada thanks…

Polar Bears International (PBI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of the polar bear and its habitat through research, education, and action. PBI provides scientific resources and information on polar bears and their habitat to institutions and the general public worldwide.

explore.org is a philanthropic media organization and multi-media arm of The Annenberg Foundation, as part of its Pearls of the Planet initiative, a variety of live feeds that aim to help people fall in love with the world again.

Frontiers North Adventures specializes in authentic adventures in Canada’s North, providing guests with the opportunity to experience the wildlife, history, and culture of the people of the North. Owners and operators of the world-famous Tundra Buggy® Adventures, Frontiers North offers a variety of wildlife-viewing programs, the most popular being polar bears in Churchill.