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Bathing Beauty

Bathing Beauty
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2006-07-30
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Canon 1D Mark II, Canon EF 300mm f2.8 USM IS
Exposure: f/5.0, 1/400 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): gondox's favorites - animals, Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus) [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-03-13 9:14
Viewed: 5812
Points: 56
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I took this shot from a zodiac using my 300mm 2.3 + 1.4x converter. This bear was one of a group of 15 feeding on the body of a dead sperm whale. The body was underwater and this one had just been diving to get some of it. How close? - at times I could have stroked one - almost!

Constantine John Phipps was the first to describe the polar bear as a distinct species. He chose the scientific name Ursus maritimus, the Latin for 'maritime bear', due to the animal's native habitat. The Inuit, the indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic region and sharing much of the same habitat as the polar bear, refer to the animal as Nanuk (occasionally rendered as Nanook, or Nanuuq in the Inupiat language).

For some time, the polar bear was considered to belong to its own genus, Thalarctos, combining the Ancient Greek words thalassa/θαλασσα 'sea', and arctos/αρκτος 'bear' and also, with reference to Ursa Major, 'northern' or 'of the north pole'. However, evidence of hybrids between polar bears and brown bears, and of the relatively recent evolutionary divergence of the two species, does not support the establishment of this separate genus, and the accepted scientific name is now therefore Ursus maritimus, as Phipps originally proposed.

In Romance languages, the animal is referred to by local cognates of 'polar bear', for example the French Ours Polaire, or the Spanish Oso Polar. By contrast, in many Germanic languages (although not in English), the animal is referred to by a cognate of 'ice bear'; for example, the German Eisbär, or the Swedish Isbjörn.

Polar bears are the largest living land carnivores. Males are generally 25–45% larger than females. Most adult males weigh 350–650 kg (770–1500+ lb) and measure 2.5–3.0 m (8.2–9.8 ft) in length. Adult females are roughly half the size of males and normally weigh 150–250 kg (330–550 lb), measuring 2–2.5 m (6.6–8.2 ft), but double their weight during pregnancy. The great difference in body size makes the polar bear among the most sexually dimorphic of mammals, surpassed only by the eared seals. At birth, cubs weigh only 600–700 g (1.3–1.5 lb). The largest polar bear on record was a huge male, allegedly weighing 1002 kg (2200 lb), which was shot at Kotzebue Sound in northwestern Alaska in 1960. Their tail is 7–12 cm (2.8–4.8 in) long.

The polar bear's ears and tail are smaller than other bears, and its legs are stocky, as predicted by Allen's rule for a northerly animal (large body, small extremities - to conserve heat). Its feet are very large: 36 cm (12 in) across in an adult, to distribute load when walking on snow or thin ice (as with snowshoes). Stiff hairs on the pads of the paws provide insulation and traction on the ice. Despite a recurring internet reference that all polar bears are left-handed, there is no scientific evidence to support this.

jaycee, Luis52, boreocypriensis, vanderschelden, Necipp, Royaldevon, nglen, maurydv, eqshannon, CeltickRanger, rousettus, NinaM, Adanac, horia, JPlumb, Bass, xTauruSx, SelenE has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-03-13 9:22]

Hi James,

How delightful to see a polar bear swimming in the water. Not something many of us get to see. We can tell just how much of him has gotten wet. Beautiful colors, good details and an interesting expression on his face.


Hello James,
As far as I -know Dutch is a Germanic language and so we call it 'ijsbeer'. I believe we also use the word 'poolbeer' though...
Close encounter; good he or she was busy.
Well done

  • Great 
  • Luis52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1175 W: 8 N: 4240] (15809)
  • [2008-03-13 9:38]

Hola James.
I guess it was a very great moment to catch this beautiful Polar Bear taking a bath. I wish I colud see them in a real life, any way You have an excellent photo here, Great camera and lens work, and of course Your telent.
Saludos My friend.

  • Great 
  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2008-03-13 9:50]

Hi James,
great composition and timing has given you a lovely portrait. Some fine detail in the wet fur and perfect DOF, well done.

Hi James,

A perfect and lovely capture of this bathing beauty friend. I also liked his pose. Splendid. TFS.

Hello James it certainly is a beauty and the pose is good. Very well adjusted, great pov and composition. tfs rgds Necip.

Hello James,
Thank you for the precise informative notes regarding the Polar Bear with a beautiful image!
very good close up in sharpness, wonderful colour and details in the shot!
many thanks for sharing

What interesting notes, James.
I only heard on the radio today that polar bears are left-handed!
We have a real love relationship with bears, probably due to teddies! This one looks particularly 'soft'. The reality is somewhat different when you see them hunting or fighting!
Lovely sharp image with superb details of its face and wet fur!

Kind regards,
Bev :-)
Many thanks for your kind comments on 'Quite a balancing act'.

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-03-13 14:39]

Hi James. Well firstly very interesting notes i wish you had been a teacher at school i may have gone a bit more often and enjoyed it.
Yes you must have been close but they had plenty of food not to be to much of a danger. it is such a beautifull looking animal.which you captured with such fine detail. very well done TFS.

Hello James
This is a fantastically crisp image..The pose of the polar bear looking very thoughtfull is superb..He is highlighted so well by the pebbled bank.
A stunning image and tfs..Your notes as always are so informative and a great lesson in natural history.

Splendida immagine, ottima composizione che evidenzia la grande intensità dello sguardo, eccellenti dettagli e molto belli i colori. Complimenti. Ciao Maurizio

Oh gosh...wish you could make a trip back to Mendocino area...The Search & Rescue use zodiaks there...and a number of folks have their own. Nice for getting to fun sea caves and such without kayaking...Great image...I like the way you switch countries from one day to the next..and then as eclectic in posting as I am, you changed from Geology to flora to mammals...amazing...I feel like I am looking int he mirror:-) Very goo Sir James...
I was re-reading the comments on my Fish Lake image.. and although the rocks and geology which form the lake are X million years old, the actual carving was done by the flood about 10K years ago...

Excellent and superb shot..! Well Job James. TFS.

  • Great 
  • NinaM Gold Star Critiquer [C: 773 W: 3 N: 1157] (4077)
  • [2008-03-13 17:24]

Hello James, that is close to a big bear, isn't it? Wow, it must be one of the most impressive situation you could live. It is beautiful and every time I see one, I think about the polar ice melting and those bears drowning. I just cannot help it, it hurts in my heart. Thanks for showing a huge and beautiful animal, a strong creature losing its habitat right now. Thanks,


  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2008-03-14 0:14]

Hello James,
What a splendid bear you have captured here, although he seems to be a little unsure of your presence. The image is razor sharp and the water running of the animal shows well that he has just came up. Thank you for sharing this great image.

  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2008-03-14 2:06]

Hi James

Well here's one more reason for me being jealous of you :))
Almost stroke one? How terrific is that?!? I mean it must be an adrenaline rush to know you can have such a pleasure in the wild.
Your close-up is simply outstanding and shows this "little fellow" coming out from a nice lunch.
The details on this face and fur are great and very sharp and your exposure control was spot-on here.
I also like the nice pose you've captured it in and the lovely composition it makes. F/5.0 is amazing and 420mm and here it proved very useful in giving you that deserved clearance between his head and the BG.
All these elements put together make such a beautiful photo!

Bravo and TFS

Awesome experience James and a very wonderful shot. I've seen these guys in the zoo of course, but never like this and from a zodiac. It is so good to see one of these bears close up like this, with natural gravel behind them, from a shoreline. Excellent detail. It's just as well the whale was easier pickings than you.

Thanks, John

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-03-14 2:42]

I would be very proud if I'd taken a shot like this from a zoo! But this Polar Bear is completely wild!!! You must be chuffed to bits after taking shots of a wild Polar Bear like this!
You've captured it in such minute detail with stunning clarity and sharpness.
The colours are very natural and the lighting soft and easy to work with.
Very good composition, low-down POV and I like the thoughtful expression on his/her face.
Great BG and DOF that blurs it well.
Very, very well done James!!
Thanks for sharing this,


Hi James, What a treat to see these in the wild! This is nicely composed with good focus details. Interesting note also.
Tfs and have a great weekend. Richard

  • Great 
  • Bass Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 173 W: 0 N: 233] (974)
  • [2008-03-14 9:06]

Hi James,
what a nice polar bear! look at that expression! i would like to have some of them here in Argentina!!!
The subject is well centered, great POV, good BG, lovely natural colours and light. great work!
Thank your for this interesting note, i´m learning quite a lot about bears!
have a nice day!

  • Great 
  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2008-03-14 9:58]

James, Superb shot of this swimming polar bear. Great sharp shot. Ganesh

hello James


what a great shot of a wonderful wild animal, excellent POV
and framing, i love the expression of his glance to the water,
excellent DOF, excellent shaprness and details, TFS


Oh, you do have the adventures! Close enough to pet... huh?? Ok. I guess a dead soggy whale was more appetizing. It's another great sharp image from a bouncing rubber boat!!

Evelynn : )

Hi James!
Amazing photo of the wet polar bear, then I read the situation it is amazing. Then the notes on the species is very fine too. There were some new interesting info in for me. BTW in Hungarian we use a word like "icybear" too, probably german influence then.
TFS, very good post on all aspects!

Best regards,

Hi James,
Another lovely and perfect shot. TFS. Regards, Deniz

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-03-15 21:24]

Hello James

I am very jealous over this shot.
The clarity is wonderful,with lovely texture in the wet fur.
Excellent focus and eye detail.
Well composed,the atmosphere of the locale comes through.
Do you need a helper? I could carry your luggage.


Hello James,
Well I guess it takes a whale to feed fifteen of those guys!
This fellow looks like peaceful so I guess he is full and happy, hehehe...
A pleasant composition, the impressive animal is captured with good details!
Pablo -

  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2008-03-18 0:40]

Hello James,
Sorry I've been so busy lately and missed a lot of your postings. Svalbard is one of the places I want to go,I was planning to go there and take an expedition cruise this summer, but I ended up with a cruise in the Peruvian Amazon... Hopefully next year...
It's a very nice shot of this beautiful polar bear.
Keep on posting your beautiful photos from the beautfiul destinations :o)

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