October 31, 2009 Halloween
Location: Lat: 73 40.564 N Long: 161 02.401 W
Sunrise: 12:08 pm Sunset: 4:42 pm
Today was the final day of the trip on the Polar Sea before we disembark tomorrow. We spent the last day and night traveling over 200 miles to reach the final location where there were three bears clustered together. We had traveled so far west that we were nearly back to where we had been several weeks ago. The hope was to recapture at least one of the bears from the group to add to their sample size. The team suited up one last time for the trip out on the helicopters.
They searched the area near the boat and found all three of the bears right away. However, the problem was that all three bears were on ice that was too small to dart and safely capture on. The team and the helicopters returned to the boat and decided to take out the media crew and I out to check out the bears and the ice conditions. So we all got suited up for one last trip out in hopes of capturing the bears with our cameras. Right away, in just a few minutes, we ran across a bear jumping from small pan of ice to another. We also saw a second bear a bit later. She was not at all bothered by the sight of the helicopter - as if she knew she was safe from capture. She simply sauntered around her piece of ice comfortably, all the while keeping a close eye on us.
Once we returned back to ship, all the fun and games were over - it was time to pack up all of the supplies and lab gear that we had been using during the trip. We had to inventory all of the supplies and pack them away. Most of the supplies will stay on the boat until it returns to Seattle in December. Merav will meet the boat in Seattle to offload all the materials and ship them to Wyoming. Some of the materials had to be packed to return with the team, such as the blood samples and some of the analysis machines. There was a small amount of liquid nitrogen left over that had not been used to freeze the muscle samples, so we put it to good use - freezing various objects like oranges! Liquid nitrogen is so cold that it could freeze an orange solid in about 15 seconds!