From the National Geographic Explorer in the Arctic July 27, 2010
Another clear morning as we cruise toward Freemundsen Passage and our landing on Barentsoya Island. As we’re eating breakfast, the crew of National Geographic Explorer drops anchor and prepares for the landing that we hope to do this morning. No bears in sight, clear skies and fairly calm seas; its time to head to shore. First the long hikers, then medium, then short, and last but not least, the photo walkers! The tundra is alive with tiny arctic flowers, with incredible backdrops of mountains and streams behind. Word comes over the radio that several Arctic foxes and reindeer have been spotted by different naturalists and guests on their hikes. Many of the groups of walkers have close encounters with the animals, especially the foxes! The three hours goes by very quickly, and its time to head back to the ship, eat lunch and head for the sea ice that awaits us in the Barents Sea.
Right around 3:30 in the afternoon we approach the edge of this floating mat of remaining ice, and almost immediately a polar bear is spotted, and then another! For the next four hours we are in “bear central,” as one after another are spotted on this floating carpet of ice. With luck seemingly well on our side, the very first bear, we slowly approach, decides to come right over and pay us a close visit. After that one wanders off, another comes over, and while we’re busy watching that bear a female with two older cubs appears from behind the ship and also comes in very close. In all, there are ten bears seen, with some varying degrees of interest in the ship, some literally come so close that we’re looking straight down on them from the bow, while a few others are more cautious and give us a wide berth. Finally, it’s dinner time and we just sit floating around in the ice, where we’ll spend the night, and then slowly work our way out in the morning toward our next adventure. Oh, wait a minute – I forgot to mention that during dinner the female bear and her cubs came back to the ship and walked right pass the windows for a dinner show! What an incredible day, I can’t wait to see what we find tomorrow!