Wrangell Island & Northwest Passage Cruises

What’s that. A flock of Polar bears


  • 200+ Polar bears witnessed feeding in Wrangel Island.

  • 1% of the world’s Polar bear population feast on a Bowhead whale carcass in the Siberian Arctic.

  • 48 guests on the Akademik Shokalskiy witness this amazing event unfold.

One of our expedition vessels came across a most unusual site, a flock of Polar bears. Well not, quite, but as the call went out across the ship citing a flock of sheep on the island ahead, Rodney Russ the expedition leader, knew it would be impossible that there could be sheep on the island.

Expedition members get up close and personal to 200 feeding Polar bears on Wrangel Island, Russia.

Wrangel Island is a remote Arctic island in the Chukchi Sea above Siberia, Russia. It was only when the team took out their binoculars that they realised they were looking at a flock (pack*) of Polar bears. Having completed numerous voyages to Wrangel Island, Rodney Russ said he had never seen more than a dozen Polar bears in one location before.

Due to the remoteness and protection of the island as a federal reserve by Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Wrangel Island thrives as a Polar bear hotspot. It may also be the last place in the world where the Mammoths survived. Despite being a breeding ground for Polar bears, and even known to have the highest density of Polar bears in the world, Rodney still never imagined he and his guests would witness a wild spectacle such as.

Below is a quote from Rodney Russ about the experience witnessed on Wrangel Island;

The day started at 0530 with an early breakfast. We were anchored near Pitchy Bazar on the western coast of Wrangel Island. The Island was coated with a fresh coating of snow, a huge contrast to yesterday’s blue sky and warm weather at the Clark River. The early morning lighting that accompanied the sunrise was surreal. There were several options, ranging from the very easy to the more extreme.

I was on beach patrol with some folk on the easier walk when a young bear wandered our way. He had attitude and he was definitely interested in us. We persuaded him to move on and he lay down about 50 metres away in the snow and watched us. It was a close but incredibly fascinating encounter.  Little did we know there were even more incredible things to come.   What we saw (and experienced) next will rewrite expedition travel experiences.  We were cruising down the coast and saw a “herd” or “convention “ of Polar Bears on/near the beach.  There was a dead bowhead whale and we counted over 150 Polar Bears (of all ages, sexes and sizes) that were either feeding or had been feeding on it in the immediate vicinity of the whale.  We launched the zodiacs for a closer look and that is the memory we will all carry with us … there are no words to describe it. I share one photo in the hope that it will portray something of our experience.

200 Polar bears share a feast on a deceased Bowhead whale.

In 2018 the Spirit of Enderby will return to Wrangel Island for a number of in-depth voyages to explore this incredible Arctic island. You can follow the link below to explore the voyages in more detail. These voyages are already heavily booked, with the voyage departing 23 July sold out, and the remaining two with limited availability, so please inquire immediately if you are interested. Currently, the best availability is on board the voyage departing 06 August 2018. 

Explore the 2018 Wrangel Island Voyages here.

Of course, we can’t promise you the same experience, as every voyage is unique. But Wrangel Island is an unbelievable destination, which spectacles like this may just happen. 

iExpedition is Australia’s only dedicated expedition specialist. We deliver an advanced, search and booking site for Australian travellers interested in expedition travel. With a selection of more than 600 Antarctic and Arctic expedition departures, across close to 40 expedition vessels, we make it easy for you to search, compare, save and reserve or book your next expedition.

We are here to help, so please feel free to Contact Us via email or on 1800 960 577.  Ready for adventure? Your expedition begins here.