It started with a rose-colored sunrise over calm water, and that boded well.
We arrived at Herald Island, a small spiny rock off the east coast of Wrangel, before breakfast. Wisps of fog descended the cliffs, and the closer we got the more bears we saw. With more than 100 bear sightings yesterday, it would be hard to say if we were more excited to see more bears or to see the sunshine. It was truly a gift to have such calm seas and clear skies in this part of the world.
Over the course of the morning, we watched puffins and juvenile kittiwakes (among other seabirds) as we inched closer to a few polar bears that sat on the steep shoreline during our approach. Our Zodiac formation, with careful maneuvering and minimal noise, proved a successful strategy for observing—and not disturbing—wildlife. It’s wonderful to have four staff who live on Wrangel Island as our guides and advisors.
The weather continued to improve until most of the mist lifted and left us with polars bears to the left and walrus to the right.
During lunch, we repositioned back to Wrangel and a cliffed point called Cape Uering. Here we experienced a truly extraordinary afternoon with polar bears. While we watched seven bears on the beach working on a kill, we had a mother and cubs looking down from the top of a cliff. While we watch three bears climb a waterfall, others swam along the beach. The mist came and went and each time it shifted, we discovered a new scene.
Most of us fell silent and simply watched, trying to keep track of how many bears, where, and doing what.
Tonight we will spend more time with our colleagues from Wrangel Island and have a chance to write postcards home that they will mail for us.