Unusually Frequent Visits from Polar Bears Skip to content

Unusually Frequent Visits from Polar Bears

As of late, polar bears have been unusually frequent visitors in Iceland. The bear spotted and killed at Haelavík is the fourth since the beginning of the 21st century, mbl.is reports. The number of registered references to polar bears in Iceland is close to five hundred.


In 2008, two polar bears were killed, one in June 2008 at Thverárfjall Mountain, and the other at Hraun at Skagi. Yet another polar bear was killed in Thistilfjördur in January 2008.

Before that, a polar bear was last seen approximately 60 nautical miles northeast of Hornbjarg in June 1993. The crew of fishing boat Gudný ÍS snared and killed the bear. In 1988, a polar bear cub was spotted in Haganesvík at Fljót.

In the 20th century, five years passed on average between the visits of polar bears to Iceland. Four polar bears in three years is quite a lot as this is not a sea ice period.

According to statistics for March, 289 observations related to polar bears had been made in Iceland, counting a total of 611 animals. Now, one more has joined the group. The oldest source of a polar bear being spotted in Iceland dates back to 890.

In the winter of 1918, which saw an extraordinary frost devastating the nation, thirty polar bears came to Iceland. Experts have no explanation for the frequency of the arrival of polar bears over such a short period of time. Moreover, the polar bears of June 2008 arrived at a most peculiar time of year compared to past instances. In the past, bears used to arrive in springtime.

The frequent arrivals raise questions of what is going on relating to the polar ice caps in the northern hemisphere and whether this is a direct consequence thereof.

To read more about this weeks’ polar bear arrival in Haelavík, click here.

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