60 ANTARCTICA STORIES 2022 Coming Next




Where is Piet Today Exploring the World?

Focused on what I like best, exploring wildlife!
60 days in the waters around The Antarctic Peninsula, known as O’Higgins Land in Chile and Tierra de San Martin in Argentina, and originally as Graham Land in the United Kingdom and the Palmer Peninsula in the United States, is the northernmost part of the mainland Antarctica.

Weddel sea Expedition Onboard ‘Ocean Explorer’ certified Field Operations IAATO & AECO staff member and Polar Expedition Guide among an amazing experienced team sailing from December untill late February in the South Atlantic Ocean, around the Antarctica peninsula with stunning channels, steep cliffs and Iceberg-filled passages in my Field Staff position as Expedition Guide and zodiac driver.

There are no polar bears in Antarctica. Polar bears live in the northern polar regions known as the Arctic, but not Antartic. Down south in Antarctica you’ll find penguins, seals, whales and all kinds of seabirds, but never polar bears. Even though the north and south polar regions both have lots of snow and ice, polar bears stick to the north. And that’s a good thing for Antarctic wildlife, because the Antarctic ecosystem would look very different if there was a sleek polar predator like the polar bear at the top of the food chain.

Antarctica is isolated

Bears have spread across the world via land bridges and short ocean crossings. However, Antarctica has been separated from other continents by the vast Southern Ocean for about 45 million years – since before bears evolved. While polar bears are excellent swimmers, they would struggle to migrate to Antarctica. As they are adapted to a polar climate, the tropical latitudes would be a little too hot to handle. And crossing the famed Drake Passage could be a challenge, even for a strong swimmer like the polar bear!

Do polar bears live in Antarctica?

Polar bears live in the Arctic, but not Antarctica. Down south in Antarctica you’ll find penguins, seals, whales and all kinds of seabirds, but never polar bears. Even though the north and south polar regions both have lots of snow and ice, polar bears stick to the north. And that’s a good thing for Antarctic wildlife, because the Antarctic ecosystem would look very different if there was a sleek polar predator like the polar bear at the top of the food chain.

IAATO certified skipper Piet van den Bemd
Polar bears don’t live in Antarctica.

Why are there no polar bears in Antarctica?

The main reasons there are no polar bears in Antarctica are evolution, location and climate.

Polar bears evolved fairly recently

Bears as we know them evolved from smaller mammals (about the size of a sheepdog) about 30 million years ago, and polar bears evolved between 5 million and 150,000 years ago. While this may sound like a long time (and it is!), it’s a relatively short time geologically speaking.

Antarctica is cold

If bears evolved from small mammals elsewhere on earth, why not Antarctica? Scientists aren’t sure, but they think it may have something to do with how cold Antarctica is and how quickly it went into a deep freeze.

Scientists know that there were small mammals in Antarctica about 40 million years ago, and widespread plant life until about 2 million years ago (today there are only two flowering plants in Antarctica).

Millions of years ago, as glaciers spread across Antarctica, local mammals could have evolved into a species like the polar bear, or returned to the ocean, as seals and whales have done in the past. But they didn’t, and scientists aren’t sure why. Maybe there wasn’t enough marine life to support them, or the climate changed too quickly for them to adapt in time. Either way, isolated from the rest of the world, Antarctica’s mammals became extinct before they could evolve into a specialised marine mammal like the polar bear.

Perhaps the polar bear’s closest Antarctic relative is the Weddell seal. Both are carnivorous marine mammals, great swimmers and can live to about 33 years – but that’s where the similarities end!

Are there polar bears at the North Pole?

Polar bears can be found across the Arctic from the U.S. (Alaska) and Canada to Russia, Greenland, and Norway (Svalbard). They even make occasional visits to the Geographic North Pole, in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. The closest land to the North Pole is over 800km (497 mi) away!

The sea ice is the polar bear’s habitat. This frozen crust on the surface of the polar sea is always moving, and so are polar bears. They range across this white, ever-changing wonderland, hunting seals through cracks in the ice.

Exactly how far polar bears can roam from land depends on how much stable sea ice there is and how many seals are around for them to hunt. Polar bears can cover amazing distances at sea: they can swim 48 km (30 mi) regularly, and up to 354 kilometers (220 mi) at a stretch, before they need to find sea ice or land to rest. As sea ice cover and distribution changes over time, so do the areas polar bears can access.

Do penguins and polar bears live in Antarctica?

Penguins live in Antarctica (to the south), and polar bears live in the Arctic (to the north). While they inhabit similar polar habitats with lots of snow and ice, they have never lived together (except on the pages of children’s books or in captivity).

They did come close in 1936, when a polar explorer settled some king penguins and macaroni penguins in northern Norway, not far from the Arctic. However the penguins did not thrive in their new home, and today the northernmost penguin species is the Galapagos penguin, found on the Galapagos Islands near the equator.

How many polar bears are left in the world?

It is very difficult to estimate the number of polar bears in the world as they tend to travel alone across vast, remote Arctic expanses. An accurate head count would be very expensive and almost impossible.

In 2015 the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimated that there are approximately 22,000-31,000 polar bears left in the world and listed their population as vulnerable.

Find out how you can help support polar bears and protect their habitat. And if you’d like to join us for an expedition to the Arctic, to see the polar bear’s beautiful habitat for yourself, take a look at some of our upcoming Arctic trips.

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On the road travelling isn’t alsway easy… With my focus on the Bear Territory and a next close encounter with wolves in nature is my true passion in the wilderness.

Passion for the North

Originally I am from Breda, a lovely city in the south of the Netherlands. But this country is sickening every year, it will have to fight rising sea levels as no other country in the world. But as long as the tourists visit the tulips, the red light district in Amsterdam is crowded and they smoke the dutch cannabis, everything is okay. The real panic in Holland starts, when “winter” arrives!! The last decade they have not had a real winter back home, and I wonder when they will change the lyrics of Christmas songs and start singing about a green Christmas instead.

Talking about snow….

When I was about 7 years old my dad toke me for the first time to the high arctic. He’s a location manager and knows the world as nobody else. He was running a project in northern Scandinavia, showed me the wilderness that remained there and introduced me to dogsledding, snowmobiles, moose hunters and so much else! Now years later I often think bank to it and believe that this might have been the fundament for my love for the north!

Then about 6 years ago, I came to Andenes for the first time, and it felt amazing, absolutely great, and for the first time I really had the feeling I found a place where I could actually live.

But of course, back home, I had a girlfriend waiting for me, and I don’t believe she was really dying to move to this tiny place 350 km north of the arctic circle to join me… Anyway, I also had a kind of study to finish, so I gave it some time to see where all this would bring me. Years passed, and every year I returned to Andenes for some weeks or months. Also, I travelled to many other places in the world to see how life was there, girlfriends went and came, but during all this time I kept this little place Andenes in the back of my mind.

Let’s face it, I haven’t been a great student back at university. But living for a few years with some of the greatest guys I’ve ever met, with all of us sharing the same hobbies and passion, liking beers too much and being much more interested in things happening outside then in college, resulted in lifelong friendships, the greatest stories to tell and many amazing memories. The one thing which has always saved me is my passion, a motivation, and I hate giving up on things… so I even received a paper from university. Time to discover the big world!

I knew what I wanted, I knew where I wanted to go. Years of creating a network, getting to know some amazing people with the most incredible stories and experiences, brought me where I am today . My uncle always told me “it doesn’t matter what you know, but who you know”.

So a bit over a year ago, I officially moved to Andenes Norway 69˙ North.

Skippering rib boats doing whale watching tours, realizing peoples dreams that way, reminds me of my own first whale-encounter. 

Next to that, I’m running a small photography business, “Piet van den Bemd photography”. The idea behind it is just that it will make it easier for people to find me, how I could help you with your projects in the arctic and so much more. I’m taking a consultative role and did some technical support in enabling a safe and successful film shoot of an international film crew. Location- and safety management of a team of 12 in arctic winter was a real challenge, but I simply loved doing it and the results where astonishing. 

I love to get people to the right place at the right time, to get them to target species or to see things from a different perspective then others might think off. Most people might find me creative and a go-getter. To sell high quality photo prints on basically any size is a real pleasure, and I feel honored when people want to have my picture hanging on their wall.

Being in Andenes gives me so many opportunities. With wildlife in my backyard, peaky mountains, an almost unlimited amount of freedom, midsummer sun up 24/7, Northern Lights dancing above my head in winter, it feels like the sky is the limit.

But believe me, all this sounds so great, romantic and easy, but there are some days…pfffoeh it feels like living in a kind of carwash! Horizontal snowfall, incredible wind speeds and massive high breaking waves, thick gray clouds that never seem to vanish. But after storm, the sun will always shine, right?!!

Oldskool postcard greeting to my home address…

Here is the final result of the Husky dogs and my first arctic trip I’ll never forget.

Credits: Limelight-Today ©
Styling & Props: 809 CGi
Line Producer / Location Manager: TEAM MAPITO

Hello world!

Welcome to my arctic website > Piet van den Bemd Photography

This is my first post…
My on-line journal where I post about my personal experiences and a quick link to my hobbies ->> Skills & Services for Field Research & Maritime Surveys helping Institutes for Marine Research and companies for advertising and media.
Stay in touch and please come back.  … I’ll post more stories here!


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