For the first time, you can watch a 360-degree live webcast that puts you in the middle of a community of wild bears.
The live stream from Eastern Finland – which lasts more than 48 hours – began Wednesday 10 July, 6pm Finnish time (1500 UTC) and ends at noon on Saturday.
To access it, click on the YouTube link below. You can turn the view in any direction. Unless the curious bears damage the camera, the stream will continue through Saturday morning.
The location is Raate in the eastern municipality of Suomussalmi. It lies on the Russian border east of Oulu.
This is apparently the world’s first-ever extended 360-degree broadcast of wild bears.
Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) estimates that there are just over 2,000 bears in the country, although a precise count is not possible as they wander back and forth across the Russian border. Traditionally they have been most common in eastern Finland, but also wander into central and even southern parts of the country.
How to spot ‘Weightlifter’ and ‘Broken Finger’
The live stream is from a bear viewing site run by tourism entrepreneur Markku Matero, who leaves food for the bruins each evening.
He has given nicknames to bears that have frequented the area for a long time, such as Lerppahuuli (“Floppy Lip”) for one female.
“She has a split lip from being in a fight at some point. She’s had bad luck with her cubs, losing them to male bears for several years,” Matero says.
A male bear may kill young cubs if they are the offspring of rivals. This summer Lerppahuuli has taken her two cubs somewhere else, apparently due to the arrival of a large male dubbed Painonostaja (“Weightlifter”).
“He’s an unbelievably large, wide male. He’s a bit nasty and solitary. If there are others at the feeding place, he chases them off,” says Matero. In general, the large males usually eat first, followed by the females and cubs..
Another easily recognisable bear that may be visible is Rikkosormi (“Broken Finger”).
“It’s a big black bear with a middle claw on one front paw that is oddly formed for some reason,” he explains.
Matero takes food to the bears each evening shortly before 7pm. Activity around the webcam is most likely between this time and 6am.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: From the Arctic to Atlantic, a photographer documents seal hunting in Canada, Eye on the Arctic
Finland: Finnish live stream gives users bird’s eye view of eagle’s nest, Yle News
Norway: Norwegian slow TV follows reindeer herd to the coast of the Barents Sea, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Moose migration in northern Sweden makes for “contemplative” slow TV, Radio Sweden
United States: At Republican lunch, U.S. senators mesmerized by live stream of Alaska bears, Alaska Public Media