by Ciel Yogis
The Brown Grizzly Bear
The Kamchatkan brown bear is a close relative of the American Grizzly but has not been studied as thoroughly. In most regions brown, black and female polar bears hibernate through the winter where they lose up to thirty percent of their body mass. During hibernation the female bears give birth and nurse their cubs for months without food for themselves. At the beginning of May the bear family emerges into the dawn of spring. Each mother usually bares three cubs, two of which usually survive. The cubs stay with their mother for up to three years, after which they are on their own. The brown bears tend to spend much of their time alone after mating season; this is often difficult for older cubs whose mother has just left them to adulthood and to fend for themselves. In the teenage cubs' first mating season alone they often band together in small cliques, being too young to mate and too old to tail along with mom.
-- Did you know? The brown bear is vegetarian for most of the spring, but spends the summer and fall seasons gorging itself on river salmon preparing itself for the long winter's nap. An adult bear can lose up to 350 pounds per winter, which it must gain back before the next cold season.
The Northern Fur Seal
This sea creature was originally named in Greek and Latin for its prized hide and for its beautiful bear-like qualities. First called sea bears by early Europeans, the Callorhinus, the ursinus, or the Northern fur seal is a fascinating, highly social and territorial sea mammal. Rookeries, or flocks, of males arrive first in May and June to establish their territories in common areas such as the Pribilof Islands in the eastern Bering Sea, and the Commander Islands in the western Bering Sea. The males are extremely territorial over their harems and will exert themselves in violent and loud battles echoing personalized calls to claim their property and prove their power. The females arrive at the rookery site throughout the month of June, giving birth only days after coming in from sea. After their pups are born mating season begins and the females make frequent trips out to sea to collect food and to gain weight for their growing pup's main meal, milk. The seals are dark brown in color with thick gray hairs on the backs of the neck. The female seals have grayish black backs and silver-gray bellies. Pups are black at birth.
-- Did you know? Most females, pups, and young males leave the Bering Sea in late November to migrate as far south as southern California and Japan. Pups must learn to swim as soon as possible in order to be ready for the journey out to sea; it is a mere 125 days after they are born that the young fur seals are considered weaned, and are expected to fend for themselves as soon as they get the courage. Mother fur seals leave for eight to 10 days at time soon after the pup is born and hunger often drives the scared pup into the water. Despite the fledgling fur seals' bravery and quick learning, five to twelve percent of all pups die during their first month of life. Hookworm causes anemia in the small sea creatures, and they eventually starve.
Russian Arctic Fox
The Russian arctic fox is a fox subspecies and does not turn white at all. Instead, she remains gray-brown. The fox's preferred territory ranges from arctic and alpine tundra to ice covered seas. The foxes have been known to wander extremely far -- as much as 2000 km for one fox. The distance traveled is incredible when the fox's size is considered, for he is no bigger than a house cat. Arctic foxes are scavengers and hunters eating almost anything available that others leave behind.
-- Did you know? The Russian arctic fox has the warmest fur of any animal. The fox has two color phases; the white phase begins as short brown fur during the fall season, that is covered by a dense white coat in the winter. On the summer and late winter the fox becomes a deep bluish gray color. The fox's winter color depends on its habitat: the blue phase being for Arctic foxes that live near the shore. When foxes are ready to give birth they prepare a den; each den can consist of four to twelve openings, but have been known to have more than a hundred openings, as they are passed down from generation to generation.
The Tufted Puffin
Over four million of these unique and exotic birds live in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, but most of the year they spend out at sea fishing. During the puffin's breeding season in the spring, they are very obvious species with round bodies and short, stalky wing spans which cause them to fly low to the ground. The puffin needs a tall bluff or cliff to take flight: she takes a running start and then flaps her strong wings wildly. The adult puffin is almost entirely black except for a white face and bright orange-red bill and legs.
-- Did you know? The tufted puffin gets its name from the conspicuous pale yellow plume that sprouts from behind the bird's eyes. The eyes themselves are an extraordinary yellow color with a bright red ring around the outside. The puffin is a monogamous creature that mates for life. The couple takes turns caring for their one youngster in the rocky den while one parent fishes for the whole family all day long. The puffin is at her most graceful while under water: her wings unfold to "fly" through the water at great depths where she catches small, slender fish and mysteriously arranges them head to tail from the back of her beak to the front. No one has ever watched a puffin long enough underwater to find out how the species so cleverly catches its fish.
Steller's Sea Eagle
These huge birds were discovered by Georg Wilhelm Steller during his expedition with Bering to the coast of Alaska and the Commador Islands in 1741. A full-grown eagle carries a wingspan of seven and a half feet and weighs nearly 16 pounds. The eagles build massive nests atop shoreline cliffs and crags; a nest is constructed no more than a few hundred yards from shore and can be found at least 150 feet from the ground in height. The Steller sea eagle's clear markings are easy to spot from afar, thanks to its white wing patches, bright yellow beaks, and immense wingspan. After mating, male and female eagles make a nest. After laying one to two eggs the female eagle will rarely leave the nest while the male hunts for fish and other small mammals. Baby Steller's are born in late spring and early summer weighing 1 3/4 to 2 1/2 pounds by their second day alive. The chick must hurry and grow so as to fend for herself; parent eagles feed their babies approximately one pound of fish per day by the time the small bird is five weeks old.
-- Did you know? A Steller sea eagle hardly eats without a tussle or a fight and almost never hunts for his food on his own. The day begins by spying on smaller birds of prey, such as ravens, and following them to the desired potential meal. From that point, the "scout" eagle then proceeds to steal the food from the smaller raven. The scout eagle then spreads a seven-foot wingspan to show success, thus signaling to the rest of the waiting flock that he is shielding his prey. A heated battle can ensue as the eagle flock tried to steal the scout's food, and often claws and beaks are used in the attacks. Why do these massive birds steal their meals if there is a plenitude of fish for all? Biologists believe they fight because they like to, and according to Russian scientist Alexander Ladygin, a salmon's skin is difficult enough to break open that stealing is easier.