This week has been incredibly hectic, especially in terms of taking water samples. We have had almost 3 days of continuous sampling, and all of the samples have to be filtered in a multi-step process. This involves filling various bottles and syringes, filters that explode off the top of the syringe (invariably knocking over filled sample bottles - start again), and caulk guns. After several 14-16 hour work days, my hands are hurting, I have calluses, and I have been hearing the "pop" of plungers removing from syringes in my dreams - not a good sign.

    I was just about to go to breakfast at 7:30 am (ship time) and looked out my window to see the beautiful sunset (real time). Then, there it was - a polar bear. I grabbed my coat and hat, talked to several people in the hall about alerting others, and ran out on deck.

    The bear was identified as a male - I was not able to check directly (and wouldn't want to), so I'll go with it. He approached the ship and got within 30-40 feet. He regularly sniffed the air, turned around if it heard unusual noises from the ship (metal doors closing), trotted away very quickly (supposedly they are as fast as race horses over short distances, which is why you need bear guards on the ice), and even rolled on its back in the snow.

    Enjoy.

    Polar Bear
    The polar bear cautiously moving away from the ship after hearing a loud noise.

    Polar Bear Close-up
    The bear approaches the ship. We appreciated the opportunity to see it up close.

    Bear Sniffing
    The bear sniffed the air. After about 30 minutes, he turned around and ambled away.

    Seeing the bear has been one of the high points of the trip (and made the rest of the day much more manageable).

    Date
    Location
    East Siberian Sea
    Weather Summary
    Weather: Partly Cloudy; Moderate ice cover
    Temperature
    -5.0 C
    Wind Speed
    8.3 m/s

    Comments

    Pamela Davies

    To be seeing this bear! Glad he was not starving and that he seems to have ice to survive on for the time being ......absolutely gorgeous!

    Jonathan Pazol

    Yes, he looked healthy. Hopefully there will be enough ice in the future for them to survive.

    MARTIN V KIPP

    Seeing one of nature's most awesome apex predators in its natural environment, not in some zoo, will be something to remember forever. Now all you have to see are the northern lights!

    Jonathan Pazol

    I agree. I've had the opportunity to see polar bears in the wild on a prior expedition, but it is truly awe-inspiring. And, the next night, we saw the northern lights. The last of my personal "Big 3" for the trip is a walrus. One of the crew said we may be close enough on our transit back to see them.

    Mark J Chyna

    or could there be more polar bears lurking in the distance?

    how much do you think he weighed?

    Jonathan Pazol

    They're pretty solitary, and mating occurs in the spring. Estimates from people on board are 1000-1100 lbs. It was big and looked well-fed.