By Charlotte Fisher, Junior Naturalist, Age 11
No words can truly describe the full experience of seeing the elusive ice bear up close. In my humble opinion, this kind of a thing can’t be captured on camera, or film, one has to be there in person to understand the magic of being so close to a creature so, well, magical. Yesterday morning, I woke up, slightly tired from the gentle rocking of the ship, but also very excited. We were in bear country!
The previous night, we had sighted a bear. It had been amazing! Unfortunately, we were unable to get very close up to it, so it ended up being a “pixel bear”. Still, this had given me a taste of what was yet to come. At breakfast that morning, I ate a pancake while sitting precariously perched on my chair, nervously waiting to run to the bow of the boat in the event of any bear sightings. After breakfast, as I was walking back to the room I shared with my Mom, somewhat disappointed, the Captain came over the loudspeaker that was wired through the boat. Before he could even finish the words “polar bear,” my mom and I were madly dashing to the upper deck of the National Geographic Orion’s bow.
That bear was, well, simply breathtaking. The Orion is an ice-class ship, which allows her to slide through the ice fields in order to get up close to the bears. The boat came so close to that bear, that I could see the brown in its eyes. The polar bears are actually surprisingly cute. They roll around on the ice like they’re playful dogs (I later learned this was simply a cleaning process) however, still remain composed and strangely dignified.
As I watched this first bear in it’s natural habitat, I thought: “Wow. This is real. Not manufactured.” There was something so truly wholesome and magical in the experience, that the other five times bears appeared that day, I ran as quickly as I could to the bridge of the ship to watch them, as excited as if I had personally discovered the polar bear. This was probably the best day of the entire adventure. I saw mother bears with their cubs, a giant male bear, prowling over the ice, searching for a seal to snack on, and more! By the time the day ended, I was exhausted, invigorated, and amazed.
But probably the most exciting part of the day—the final bear we saw was rolling around on the ice on the port side of the boat. From my room, I could see the bear directly out the window. It was a very surreal moment, and a perfect way to end a day that I will remember forever.
* Charlotte Fisher is an 11-year old from Colorado who has traveled with her mother and grandmother on several Lindblad Expeditions. Our naturalist staff, charmed by her intelligence and obvious passion for exploring, has consistently engaged her. Given the task of writing Daily Expedition Reports on past South Pacific and Alaska expeditions as well as presenting at Recaps, she performed superbly, earning the right to call herself a “Senior” Junior Naturalist. So we asked her to act as a Lindblad Expeditions field correspondent on her most recent adventure in Arctic Svalbard. This is her just-filed report.