The World of the Polar Bear

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The World of the Polar Bear [Paperback]

Norbert Rosing
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Ask people to choose an animal iconic to the Arctic, and most will pick the polar bear. The largest of the land-based carnivores, polar bears roam the sea ice around the North Pole and retreat to the land in spring and summer when the ice melts. German photographer Rosing has produced probably the best collection of images of polar bears and their arctic habitat ever assembled in one place in this stunning new book. Following the bears through the four seasons, the author shows a cub's first tentative steps outside the snow cave in which he was born. Summer finds the bears stranded on shore as Hudson Bay melts, and they turn to whatever food they can find. In autumn, the bears gather around Churchill, waiting for the freeze and providing great opportunities for capturing play behavior on film. When winter finally freezes the bay, the bears reenter their true element, crisscrossing the sea ice with their attendant arctic foxes. Nancy Bent
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Two decades in the Arctic have provided Norbert Rosing with keen insight into its most celebrated inhabitant, the polar bear. He follows this mighty traveler across valleys, ice flows, and seasons, capturing the beauty and bounty of the Arctic's surprisingly colorful flora and fauna. (Conservation Magazine 2010-12-10)

The World of the Polar Bear focuses on that one marvelous, mystical and endangered animal. In t his revised and updated third edition of his book, Rosing marries his heartstoppingly beautiful photography with personal, informative insights drawn from his more than 25 years exploring the North. (Jodi DeLong Halifax Chronicle Herald 2010-12-12)

An intimate portrait of an endangered and iconic Canadian animal... some truly marvelous views of the land itself in all its seasons... [a] gorgeous book. (Bill Robertson Halifax Star Phoenix 2010-12-18)

One of the animal species most threatened by climate change in the north is the polar bear, the subject of a photo book by Norbert Rosing. The World of the Polar Bear is not a new release--it is an updated, soft-covered third edition--but it is more pertinent than ever. Rosing's documentary images of polar bears and the foxes, seals, walruses and birds that share their northern habitat are genuinely awe-inspiring; they reflect the photographer's patience, passion and desire to convince the public of the need to address the environmental crisis. (Louise Abbott Montreal Gazette 2010-12-11)

The North is an enigmatic place to most Canadians, even foreign, with its vast, treeless spaces and unforgiving climate. It is also a significant place when it comes to global climate change -- it is the polar regions of the planet that are experiencing the biggest rises in temperature and changes to the landscape, threatening the very survival of the polar bear. Photographer Norbert Rosing has spent almost 20 years visiting the western shores of Hudson Bay and chronicling the lives of its animal inhabitants, not just the bears but also the foxes, hares, muskoxen, walruses and other creatures that share the land. This collection of photographs is an intimate portrayal of their existence through the seasons, from springtime mating to a winter on the Arctic ice, accompanied by explanations of how the bears survive and thrive in one of the harshest climates on Earth. (Style at Home 2010-01-00)

[Review of earlier edition:] Likely to delight those that seek a glimpse into the life of one of the world's most charismatic species.... beautiful and well presented. ... Rosing is a superb photographer and one who can capture the essence of a polar bear in a diversity of situations. (Andrew E. Derocher, Department of Biological Scien Arctic 2006-01-00)

[Review of earlier edition:] Rosing has produced probably the best collection of images of polar bears and their Arctic habitat ever assembled in one place in this stunning new book. (Nancy Bent Booklist 2006-10-01)

[Review of earlier edition:] Some great shots in this book... [Rosing] shares many tricks and techniques for shooting in this harsh environment... This is a great coffee table book showing spectacular shots of the polar bear at work, rest and play. (Elizabeth Logue Canadian Camera 2006-11-00)

[Review of earlier edition:] Breathtaking... a keeper for budding environmentalists and ardent animal lovers. (Canadian Living 2006-12-00)

[Review of earlier edition:] Polar bears are the star performers here ... Exceptional reading for all ages. (Lorraine Lauzon Catholic Observer 2007-03-30)

[Review of earlier edition:] [An] amazing book. (Laila Maalouf Destinations 2007-03-00)

[Review of earlier edition:] Overflowing with stunning photographs... many touching moments captured. (Huixia Sun Embassy (Canada's Foreign Policy Newsweekly) 2006-12-20)

[Review of earlier edition:] Rosing's photos are beautifully stark, often moving... Text is lively, anecdotal and informative, and never gets in the way of the amazing photography. A book to cherish. (Martin Levin Globe and Mail 2006-08-05)

[Review of earlier edition:] Hauntingly beautiful images of the Arctic. (Halifax Daily News 2006-09-10)

[Review of earlier edition:] Polar bears have been one of [Norbert Rosing's] primary fascinations and this book follows them through the seasons. (Kitchener-Waterloo Record 2006-12-09)

[Review of earlier edition:] [Starred review] Eighteen years in the making, this volume is filled with spectacular color photos and informative text... This book will delight anyone with an interest in the Arctic or in polar bears, as well as those with an interest in nature or wildlife photography. Highly recommended. (Deborah Emerson Library Journal 2006-10-15)

[Review of earlier edition:] If you buy just one polar bear book this year, make it this one. (National Post 2006-12-02)

[Review of earlier edition:] Crammed full of outstanding images... Norbert Rosing's work is nothing short of spectacular. Of all the photo essays I have seen on the white bears, this is by far the very best. (North American Bear Foundation 2006-08-00)

[Review of earlier edition:] Follows polar bears as they mate, hunt, rear their cubs and journey across the ice. (Kim Castleberry Outdoor Photographer 2006-12-00)

[Review of earlier edition:] Polar bears and their Arctic neighbours. (Ron Berthel Peterborough Examiner 2006-12-09)

[Review of earlier edition:] The captions that accompany the photographs are straightforward and succinct, leaving Rosing's striking images to evoke the cold, unrelenting beauty of Canada's North on their own merit. (Cassandra Drudi Quill and Quire 2006-12-00)

[Review of earlier edition:] Breathtaking images. (Shutterbug 2007-12-00)

[Review of earlier edition:] [One of "Style at Home"'s Top Ten Coffee Table Books] An intimate portrayal of their existence through the seasons. (Kat Tancock Style at Home 2006-10-00)

[Review of earlier edition:] [The World of the Polar Bear] is, by turns, visually provocative, sumptuously beautiful and emotionally suffering. (Mark Cocker The Guardian 2007-11-24)

[Review of earlier edition:] Rosing's gorgeous full-page polar bear photos capture the world of the Far North like no other.. Sure to be a popular browsing choice... Highly recommended. (The Midwest Book Review: Bookwatch 2007-02-01)

[Review of earlier edition:] Covers not only the bears enjoying the snow, but also the walruses and arctic foxes around them. (Derwent May The Times, London 2006-12-00)

[Review of earlier edition:] Magnificent... will delight young readers as well as adults. (Liz Pogue Victoria Times-Colonist 2006-10-01)

[Review of earlier edition:] Awesome! This incredible photographic journey through the seasons in the world of the polar bear is an absolutely delightful experience... This book is certain to get a lot of attention, whether on display or on the shelf. (Marilyn Brien VOYA 2007-06-00)

[Review of earlier edition:] Stunning photographs... Words cannot adequately describe the beauty of the photographs in this book. It is truly a remarkable presentation of a region of the earth that most of us will never get to see firsthand. (Wildlife Activist 2006-12-01)

[Review of earlier edition:] Even if you have never been to the west coast of Hudson Bay, this remarkable book will make you feel as though you have been there. ... This is an engaging look at the great white beasts of the North. ... If you get it as a gift for someone you may not be able to part with it. (Randy Midzain Winnipeg Free Press 2006-12-03)

About the Author

Norbert Rosing visits Churchill, Manitoba, the very best place in the world to photograph polar bears, frequently. He has received many awards for his work and is a long-standing contributor to National Geographic magazine.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Excerpted from Chapter 1:
The Polar Bear's Den

The countryside whizzed past beneath us in a green-and-white patchwork stitched together from the alternating fabrics of conifers and snow. Heading south, we crossed the tree line and followed the route of a meandering creek, where we noticed large snowdrifts deposited on the lee side, an ideal location for polar bear dens. When the helicopter pilot suddenly spied bear tracks directly below, he executed a steep descending turn that gave me a momentary flashback to my morning meal.

Flying close to the tops of the highest trees near the creek, we were able to follow the tracks. "There she is," I heard Dennis Andriashek, a Canadian Wildlife Service scientist, shout through the earphones. "She's sticking her head out of the den. And look! There's a young one." As we banked to the right I was struck at once by how elusive these maternal groups are, even in the most heavily populated denning habitat in the country.

In recent years I have searched for polar bear families with the help of Morris and Mike Spence, and their friend Ellen (Amak) Oman. The Spence brothers not only own the famous Wat'chee Lodge, located on the edge of Wapusk National Park, but they also serve as guides to tourists, photographers and film teams visiting the area. It's not an easy task to find the dens, given how well camouflaged they are and the size of the park. I once asked Morris what his secret was.

"There is no secret," he replied. "This is all tribal land. Everything I learned out there I learned from my father, other family members and friends. I can read the clouds for weather changes, the color of the ice, the snowdrifts. I travel with open eyes and an open mind and try to put myself in a polar bear mother's position searching for shelter."

In anticipation of the arrival of their offspring, the Wapusk females bears dig earth dens or move into existing ones used over the years by many generations. Females in other denning areas search for a suitable snowdrift in which to excavate a comfortable chamber. They usually dig out a single room averaging 6 by 10 feet (2 by 3 meters) in area and 4 feet (1.2 meters) high, but two- and even three-room dens are not uncommon. The den's roof is thin enough to allow oxygen to pass through the snow crystals - so thin, in fact, that a fellow photographer once strolled over a slope and broke through one. Fortunately, his leg plunged into an unoccupied spare room!

In her igloovikus, as the Inuit call it, the bear drifts in and out of sleep, living off her fat stores from the previous winter's hunting and waiting to give birth. The young are born sometime between November and February. Twins and, less frequently, triplets make up the typical polar bear family; only one litter of four has ever been documented.

At birth, the polar bear cub is smaller than a tree squirrel, weighing less than two 2 pounds (1 kilogram). With only a light down covering and its eyes still sealed shut, the newborn is completely helpless. In this undeveloped condition the cubs are vulnerable to the cold. Scientists have found that the mother's body heat coupled with the insulating layers of snow covering the den can keep the inside temperatures only a few degrees below freezing, regardless of how frigid the outside temperatures become. During their first three weeks of life, the cubs curl up on their mother's thighs for protection from the frozen ground.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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