Bear Number Two, photos by Adriane Colburn
September 2, 2008
Number of Polar Bears seen on the Healy cruise in August 2007 = 21
Number of Polar Bears seen on the Healy cruise in August 2008 = 4
This comparison is nothing more than an anecdote, an observation, but still sits somewhat uncomfortably. [If you’d like more on polar bears, please see my earlier entry # 8 on the topic.] We also saw very few seals this year. Think food chain: where there are seals -- and ice -- there are bears. Fewer seals, fewer bears.
Three of the bears spotted this cruise were seen in the wee hours, one of those for only a fleeting moment; the fourth, spotted on September 2, was seen at a time when most of the crew was awake. The bear also remained in sight for quite a while.
It was fascinating to watch the bear sniffing for prey, poking its nose into the water, testing different routes between the ice islands and open water it encountered. I’ll be bringing back a short film of the bear produced by the NOAA videographer traveling with us, David Sillicorn. For now, here are two still shots of this gorgeous animal. The picture in my mind's eye is all of us standing on the bow in collective awe, really, watching the bear wend its way across the ice scape.