Location: Lat: 72 02.549 N Long: 147 09.039 W
Sunrise: 9:45 am Sunset: 5:06 pm
****Just like yesterday, today we were grounded from flying thanks to the 40 mph winds we have been experiencing. The boat and the ice were drifting at a speed of about 1 knot as a result of the winds as well. Most of the weather decks and fos'cle (front part of the boat) were closed due to ice and wind. I had prepared myself for a day of little to do and being trapped inside for most of the day. However, there were several exciting moments of the day.
Just as I had settled down to watch a movie in the afternoon, an announcement came over the pipe - "Polar bear - 100 meters off the port side - and closing!" I quickly glanced at the others watching the movie and we all jumped up, ran to grab cameras and went outside to catch a glimpse of the bear.
We have been parked in the same general area for the past two days waiting for the winds to die down. Apparently, we chose a high traffic area for polar bears as we waited out the storm. Each day there has been repeated pipes for polar bear sightings. However, most sightings have been 300-400 meters away. From that distance, you can only see the bear in binoculars - forget taking a picture. We have also seen several at night - these we can view from the bridge in the spotlight of the boat. However, 100 meters is REALLY close to the boat - much closer than we had previously seen.
The bear, a female, was very curious - she wondered around the port side for a bit, curious and sniffing around. Everyone on board seemed to be outside all at once - and with their cameras. We were unprepared for the cold as we rushed outside to catch a glimpse of the bear; some people were in t-shirts despite the bitter cold and wind.
As I couldn't really feel my fingers anymore, I retreated back to the warmth of the boat. Everyone gathered to examine their photographs - who was able to capture the best shots of the bear?
Eventually, I returned to my movie - and just as I was settling in again, the pipe went off again! "Polar bear - 100 meters off the port side." The bear had wondered back to the boat. This time, she was must have been feeling braver as she came right next to the boat to check us out and pose for photos. I think she was trying to figure out how to get on board to access some of the delicious smells she could detect (it was almost dinner time).
Just when I thought there had been enough excitement for the day with the polar bear sighting, a group of us decided to participate in the Polar Sea Talent Show that night. With the fearless leadership of Merav Ben-David, we performed a "no more wind" dance in hopes of being able to fly again tomorrow - which then developed into a short performance of Thriller! (I'm hoping to make Coach Grimm proud since I missed Teacher Idol at Impact Academy!)
It was a bit last minute and a bit uncoordinated - but it was hilarious and I'd like to argue the "northernmost" performance of Thriller! There might be video out there, but we are looking to destroy it before it leaves the boat :)