While cruising to the North Pole on a nuclear-powered icebreaker, a Russian wildlife photographer took a stunning series of photos of a mother polar bear and her three cubs. The rare sighting was instantly cause for celebration.
IT entrepreneur by day, Dmitry Kokh, 42, lives in Moscow and travels a lot. He described his spring trip to the North Pole as “very exciting” as the birth of three cubs is a “rare occurrence in nature”.
“Our expedition leader had not had such an encounter in his 26 voyages,” he told The Epoch Times.
Kokh used a drone with low-noise propellers to avoid disturbing the bears.
While passing Franz Josef Land, a large archipelago in the north, the crew spotted an Ivory Gull. It is a rather rare bird in these regions that very often accompanies polar bears, Kokh wrote on his Notion page. His expedition leader said to be on the lookout for bears after spotting the seagull.
“We kept our eyes peeled, and soon a bright spot appeared on the horizon,” he wrote.
The luminous dot, a mother bear, was soon accompanied by three smaller dots: her cubs. Kokh jumped at the chance to record the rare sighting, first viewing the shots he wanted before launching his drone from a safe distance.
“[The mother] approached the ship, peered into the thawed area of ice, as if expecting a seal. The cubs curled up in a ball behind her and slept peacefully. At one point, she tilted her head, closed her eyes, and froze. I took the picture,” he wrote.
Besides the joy of observation, Kokh’s lucky shots lent him a platform for his message. He calls his favorite image from the series “A Home Divided.”
He told The Epoch Times, “Polar bears and humans exist in two different worlds. We wake up to our smartphone alarms, go to the office to buy lunch, force ourselves to the gym to work on that lunch, then go to the bar looking to forget the day in the bottom of a drink. The bear just lives, and to live he doesn’t need a Gucci bag or a TikTok stream.
Our progress is “relentless,” says Kokh; as our technologies advance, we are destroying forests and devastating the oceans. The irony of making this observation from a 75,000 horsepower nuclear-powered iron ship, breaking through 3-meter-thick ice to clear the way for ocean transit, was not lost on Kokh. He thinks the human-animal world is increasingly divided.
Past photos by Kokh, showing polar bears on Kolyuchin Island in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea using an abandoned cabin for shelter, have won awards for wildlife photographer of the year in the Arctic. the Urban Wildlife and Highly Commended categories. Kokh is grateful that his work sparks “conversations and reflections” among people who have the power to make a difference.
He first fell in love with photography when he was a child. Scuba diving has opened up a world of possibilities. He claims it’s an “unglamorous life”, but he’s addicted to thrill seeking. “It’s a gamble it’s easy to get addicted,” he wrote. “The more you shoot, the higher the stakes.”
Kokh has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Ocean Geographic and The Guardian. He has traveled to the most remote Russia, Antarctica, Norway, the Red Sea, Cuba, Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and has South America on his radar for a future expedition.
“I would love to photograph an anaconda underwater!” he told The Epoch Times.
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