This weekend I was able to spent two days at a cabin named Dunèr, situated at the famous east-coast of Spitsbergen. This area has less influence from the gulfstream, so it’s generally colder with more ice and more bears! When we came down the Ulvebreen we witnessed an ocean of ice as far as the eye could reach. Down at the glacier the first ringed seals where seen, but my eagle eyes where on the lookout for bigger things… At the cabin, Lars checked the Guestbook immediately, result: Last bears at that spot dated from mid-March :(. I started a profound Polar Bear scan, and after only a couple of minutes my companions heard me screaming! A heavy male was running at about 3 kilometers of us, but closing in quite rapidly. Again, an A-MAAAZING moment! I haven’t been so happy since.. eum… Well, since the Narhwal last week :D. We followed the bear and it chased away a female with a 2 year old cub that caught a ringed seal a bit more to the South. The 2 backed off and abandoned their treasure for the much bigger male.
We approached as far as the sea ice was safe. At about 350 meter we stood there, watching the seal being teared apart by the muscular king of the arctic. When he finished his meal, he followed the mother and cub towards the thiner ice. This gave me the opportunity to get close to the carcass, which was interesting because of 2 scavenging Ivory gulls and a handful of Glaucous gulls.
After this bloody adventure we where in for a meal ourselves and with that, we cracked a bottle of champagne we brought in case of polar bear emergencies like this. Lars’ reindeersoup was heated, which is becoming a nice tradition on weekend trips like this. When the stomach was satisfied, I decided to ride out for a fast and last check. I spotted an other male, smaller than the one previous that evening. He was strolling towards the carcass. I drove out to the sea, and was hoping for a curious bear. And curious he was! At the leftovers, he lifted his head, smelling my sweet masculine sweat and came towards me. I started the scooter, loaded the gun and installed my 500mm on the tripod. The bear came as close as 200m, and than headed North, not close enough for a portrait, but the experience together with the huge amount of adrenaline and some atmospheric shots made me fall asleep with a satisfied memory…
After breakfast on sunday I spotted 2 bears on 3-4 kilometers at sea, so I followed the coast for something interesting closer by. In a fjord a few kilometers North of the cabin, I found a napping female. After some time with this bear, I went back to my companions to plan the way back. After packing and cleaning, I did one brief scan, again 3 (!) bears, but on an enormous distance out at the vast pack ice…
Lars guided us back by a more adventurous route over the so called ‘dead-glacier’. The way-back was not as ‘boring’ as the way we came, so we had some minor troubles, but that’s part of the game!
In short, a weekend that will stay forever with me, largely thanks to Lars and Astrid, two fantastic friends who made this trip possible!
Even at 2 am there is enough light to take good shots of an interested bear.
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