The Rayograph

Capturing Rare Spirits in Photographs

My Modern Metropolis’s Alice Yoo writes:
Have you ever seen a black bear that was actually white? Known as the spirit bear or the Kermode bear, this revered and rare creature is found almost exclusively in the moss-draped rainforest in British Columbia, Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest.

For National Geographic’s August issue, photographer Paul Nicklen captured the spirit bear in all its glory. With a population of only about 400 to 1,000, the white bear is a rare sight to behold.

Just how do they get that color? “Scientists know how black bears are born white. They’re just not sure why,” says Bruce Barcott of National Geographic. “The phenomenon, known as Kermodism, is triggered by a recessive mutation at the MC1R gene, the same gene associated with red hair and fair skin in humans. To be born white, a bear must inherit the mutation from both parents. The parents themselves don’t have to be white. They just need to carry the recessive mutation. So it’s not uncommon for white bears to be born to black parents.”

Check out some of Nicklen’s photographs of this rare sight in its beautiful natural habitat.

Via My Modern Metropolis.

This entry was published on August 4, 2011 at 2:04 PM. It’s filed under Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Capturing Rare Spirits in Photographs

  1. Excellent photos !

  2. Very, very, cool.
    I had forgotten that these bears existed. It’s good to be reminded and to know that they still do. I had learned about them when I was 27 years old studying wildlife biology in Montana. That was a long time ago…I’m so glad to see them again.

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