Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam
Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Polar Bear Adventure Day 5: Bears and More Bears!

Our tour guide Hayley, Doug, Steven and Sean trying to balance during our bumpy ride (out of focus due to extreme jiggling)

On Thursday November 3, we boarded the tundra buggy again for our second day of bear viewing.

This bear took off when the buggy pulled up

We didn't have to drive far to find bears this time.

Today, our tour company had again planned something special for Steven. Polar Bears International, an organization created to protect polar bears and their habitats and to educate people about polar bears, was doing a web conference that day for middle school students in Rhode Island.

There were three world-known polar bear experts present, and they were doing the webcase from the tundra lodge.

The Adventure Learning Program webcast

We were invited to join them on the tundra lodge and watch their presentation. After the presentation, students came to the microphone to ask questions of the researchers.

After a few minutes, they brought Steven and Sean up and introduced them to the students. The students then asked Steven a bunch of questions about his experiences with the bears and why he'd chosen that trip for Make-A-Wish. Steven did great.

The Polar Bear Cam and the bear that followed it around

We got to eat lunch on the tundra lodge (lunch was great, they treat their guests well), then our buggy returned to pick us up.

There was a ringed seal waaayyy out on a rock out on the tidal flats which was causing much interest. Ringed seals are the primary food of the polar bears, and the bears we were watching are very hungry, having been fasting for several months.

The wind was blowing away from the seal, so the bears weren't able to smell him. Dennis was tracking the seal, hoping to catch a polar bear hunting the seal on camera.

We waited for a while, but none of the bears seemed to know the seal was there. Dennis eventually got what he was looking for, he wrote about it here.

This was a big bear that was hanging out next to our buggy for about an hour

We moved so we could get a good look at another bear taking naps in between eating kelp out on the tidal flats.

The bear taking a closer look at our buggy and its inhabitants

The bear became very interested in us and came over for a closer look.

The bear and our driver, Jarred

He seemed particularly interested in our driver, Jarred.

Our tour guide Hayley with Steven and Sean (helicopter arriving in the background)

Our tour guide, Hayley, had arranged a special surprise for Steven. She had talked to Hudson Bay Helicopters, who had very generously agreed to donate two helicopter rides, for Steven and a parent. There were other people in our group who had arranged for helicopter rides also, so two helicopters were coming to pick up those who had arranged rides.

They had to drive us to an area of the tundra where they don't expect bears, since we had to get off the buggy and walk to the helicopters.

Steven in the co-pilot's seat

We got on the helicopters and they took off. I've never been on a helicopter before and I have a tendency toward motion sickness. I spent the first few minutes of our ride trying to figure out how to switch the digital camera away from the 100 film speed it was set for, but had to give up because it was making me queasy. So, the pictures from the helicopter aren't great.

Bear on Cape Churchill

The helicopter took us out over Cape Churchill, an area where the buggies are prohibited from going. It was stunningly beautiful from the air, and going out at sunset was the perfect time to go.

We saw 13 bears on our helicopter ride, most of my photos were too blurry to use because of all the motion, but it was a treat to see all that beautiful tundra and the bears lit up pink by the sunset.

Sunset from our helicopter

After the sun set, we headed inland and saw several moose, incuding a baby.

It was a beautiful ride, as it got dark they took us back to town.

Steven and me and other tour group members at the end of our ride

It was the perfect ending to an awesome day.

To Be Continued...

- Kathleen


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