Wayne Lynch, author & photographer of “Bears of the North: A Year Inside Their Worlds”

by | Oct 13, 2021

Wayne Lynch—science writer, photographer, and author of numerous books, most recently, “Bears of the North: A Year Inside Their Worlds,” a deep and thorough exploration of the four northern bears: American black bear, polar bear, brown bear, and Asiatic black bear—offers his perspective on what it is about bears that so many people find so enchanting. Lynch also outlines what’s behind his own longstanding passion for bears, including the supreme fascination he feels for the animals—without which it seems unlikely he’d feel compelled to devote himself to the research, writing, photographing and other efforts required to generate “Bears of the North” (and his bear books that preceded this one.) At my request, Lynch briefly addresses the four northern bears, including one or two distinguishing traits for each one, enabling those who aren’t bear aficionados to grasp which bear is which. He delivered a fascinating explanation of hibernation, and how this “energy-saving strategy” can vary amongst bears based on such factors as geography (one in Alaska might hibernate for upwards of eight months, Lynch says whereas, one in California might do so briefly or not at all), or sufficient pre-slumber feasting, the absence of which can lead to a bear cutting their hibernation short to pursue sustenance. Fairly naturally, this leads to a discussion of the importance of salmon to bears, including Lynch recounting experiences he describes in the book, wherein—in the name of scientific study–he decided to swim with schools of spawning salmon. The conversation covered other ground—including the purpose of play for bears (and other animals) and Lynch’s history as an emergency-room physician who told his boss he was taking two years off to pursue science writing and wildlife photography. That was in 1979, and he’s never looked back. [Photo of polar bear: Wayne Lynch. Photo of Lynch: Dr. Nick Lunn.]

ALSO: I also spoke briefly with Samantha Polk, Development Director at Animal Coalition of Tampa (ACT), about the organization’s forthcoming major fundraiser, Stride for Strays—the 20th edition of this annual event—held this year on Saturday, October 30 at Al Lopez Park. Polk offered a brief overview of ACT, including a bit of history, its mission of providing affordable spay/neuter procedures and other low-cost veterinary services. Polk noted the operation is funded, in part, by ACT events like Stride for Strays, including food vendors, costume contests, and the walk itself. (https://actampa.org/stride-for-strays/, https://www.facebook.com/actampa, https://www.instagram.com/actampa/)

COMEDY CORNER: Mike Birbiglia’s “I’m A Bear, Etc.” (portion) (https://www.birbigs.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.


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