Polar bears!

This is it! We were woken up after 1am, they have spotted a polar bear!! So on with the warm clothes and get the camera, and out on deck to look at that one thing that I really came here for (but had half accepted that we wouldn’t see when I realised how little ice there was).

It was a big male who was feasting on a ring seal carcass. It was so exciting that at first I ignored the fact that the face looked a bit mucky. Even when I realised that this was not the pretties of bears, it was still the first polar bear I had ever seen in the wild, and it might also be the last. So I took pictures like they were going out of fashion – it’s a frikkin’ polar bear!! And mucky face and all, it looked well fed (even if one canine tooth was missing) and it was obviously able to catch seals, so we were happy for it.

It was hard to go back to sleep after that, but I tried. And I must have succeeded, because again I was woken up by our guide shouting “polar bears” – there were no less than three polar bears out on the ice!

One of the bears (young male) was eating a bearded seal, while another bear (big male) was approaching from the left. As soon as the big male bear came out of the water, the small one left the carcass without as much as a growl, because there was no point in fighting. The bigger bear had probably caught the seal, had its fill to eat, and left for a moment which allowed the young bear to get a few bites.

It was quite funny to follow the young bear around. Every once in a while it would stop and take a longing look towards the carcass, then walk about a bit again, and stop and look. But the big male had no plans to leave, so finally the small bear disappeared in the distance. But then there was another polar bear approaching the carcass, a female which stopped at a respectful distance and lied down to patiently wait for her turn.

With us having gone further south than originally planned, we were in a bit of rush to get back up north. And then, quite unexpectedly, we came across a pair of humpback whales! The guides had been doubtful about seeing any whales at all, because the season is a bit too early for them (they normally arrive at the end of June). But they there were, plumes and tail fins and all!

This southern de-tour gave us an opportunity to check out Bråsvellbreen, the second longest glacier front in the world (the longest is the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica), it is only about 30m high but it goes on for 240 km. A wall of ice as far as the eye can see! Greenland may have the bigger icebergs, but there’s nothing than compares to this wall of ice.

It had been a really long day so I went to bed almost right after dinner. But what an exciting day it had been!

Our first polar bear sighting
Our first polar bear sighting! Even the sun is coming out, which made this even better!
young male polar bear
The young male polar bear has spotted that the big male is coming back to its kill
the big male polar bear
And the big male is watching the young bear as it gets closer
Dejected, the smaller bear leaves the feast
Dejected, the smaller bear leaves the feast
polar bear
Every once in a while the small bear checks if the big bear is gone
polar bear
But no such luck, so it keeps on walking around
The gull is laughing at the young bear's misfortune
The gull is laughing at the young bear’s misfortune
polar bear jump
Even though the bear was getting more distant, I kept following it with my camera – and got a jump! I’m thrilled to bits about this!
polar bear with prey
The big bear and the gull are not feeling sorry for the small bear! There’s also an ivory gull in the picture, can you see it? The jack in the bear’s hind leg is probably caused by ice, this is what the experts told me. Another theory is that the seal put up a fight.
polar bear
Last look at the food, before the young bear finally gave up
female polar bear
The female polar bear waiting for her turn at the feast
Humpback whale
Humpback whale close to us
Humpback whale
Humpback whale further from us
And the plume
And the plume
Wall of ice
Wall of ice

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