Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Polar bear

A mother and cub were sighted off the port side of the ship and as we watched, they wandered in on the sea ice to check out the ship. They seemed quite curious, particularly the very young cub. It was a small first year cub, so it was probably the first time it had ever seen a ship. Few ships go to the Russian islands of Franz Josef Land, in contrast to Svalbard or Greenland, as it is quite far north, and there is quite a bit of Russian red tape to deal with to get there. Our ship was delayed a whole day in Murmansk because of it, even though arrangements and permissions had been arranged 5 months in advance. The person who had given permission for the ship to leave the dock, had since left the office. We were lucky to have the chance to visit this archipelago. But bears there are not too used to seeing people or ships.

The bear cub spent some time looking at the ship, even after the mother had decided there was nothing too interesting or tasty there, and had headed off, turning occasionally to see if her cub was following. The cub stayed at the ice edge for a while, regularly mewling (a cry almost like that of a cow, but much higher in pitch.) It finally turned and followed it's mom, and they wandered off into the distance, probably to resume their hunt for seals.

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