Things got a little steamy on the ice at the Hopen Meteorological Station on the Arctic island of Hopen, part of the Svalbard archipelago.
The island is uninhabited apart from a four-person crew which mans the weather station.
In a blog posted to the facility’s website, Ted Torfoss, who works at the station, described the mating ritual of two polar bears which took place in full view of the meteorological facility.
“We were about to sit down and eat when we saw two polar bears come running on to the station’s yard,” Torfoss wrote.
“At first, we thought it was a bear with a rebellious teenager. We couldn’t scare them off, and they looked like they were in their own world. But we eventually managed to chase them on to the ice,” he explains in the blog post.
The two polar bears initially appeared to be playfighting. Photo: Ted Torfoss
A little later, the pair reappeared – and were this time engaged in more intimate activity.
“This was no normal bunny sex. They kept going for about an hour, much to the interest of the Hopen residents with their observer mentality,” Torfoss wrote.
The meteorologist, who described the vantage point from which the photos were taken as “front row seats at a distance of 30-40 metres,” added that the entire spectacle was “a case of nature in process”.
“Once they finally came out of their lover’s embrace, they appeared to be good friends and took a stroll in the station area, coming and going across the yard,” added Torfoss, who agreed to share some of the photographs of the rarely-seen polar bear pairing with The Local.
You can see the full set of images on Hopen Meteorological Station’s website by clicking here.
Ahem... Photo: Ted Torfoss
“They had clearly killed a seal out on the ice, and had a slap-up meal out on the slopes. They returned well-fed, bloody and in fine form, and came back past the station’s main building,” Torfoss wrote.
Although sightings of polar bears at the Hopen station are not unusual, fewer of the animals have been seen this winter, and it is thought to be extremely rare for the bears to mate within sight of the manned weather station.
“Polar bears mate with each other now and then or maybe even more, but to see it within the station area – to the luck of those of us that are fascinated by polar bears – is extremely rare, if it has ever happened before,” Torfoss concluded.
Speaking to broadcaster NRK, the scientist said he was unsure whether the episode meant a polar bear baby would soon be seen at the location.
“It’s not certain whether the bear would come here to give birth, it’s been a few years since that happened,” he said.