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To Bear Island

Polar Bear on Pack Ice, 81 degrees North

Winter is coming to the Arctic: the tundra has turned a brilliant gold, the seabirds are heading south, and the mountains are already white with new snow.  But the polar bears are happy – the sea ice will soon form again, and seals will once again be on the menu.

The pack ice has retreated far to the north this summer, so to find bears we had to sail within about 500 miles of the North Pole, where we found this bear resting on an ice flow. While some bears ignore passing ships, this one came right to us, possibly intrigued by the odd sights and smells. It appeared to be a young male, although I couldn’t be sure, but it stayed with us for almost an hour before wandering off again to pace the ice.

Polar Bear Jumping

Now we are sailing south, ahead of winter, heading for legendary Bear Island, a place where bears were once common, but now are rarely seen. But there are still massive seabirds cliffs and other surprises ahead. And sometime soon, there will be the novelty of darkness : we have been in continuous daylight for nearly 3 weeks…