11 Aug 2014, by Matt Shupe [73N, 178E]: 

polar bear on iceBar none, this has been my most spectacular day in the Arctic. It started with the fantastic colors, sun, and moon that I wrote about in the last post. Already that qualified it as “one of” my most spectacular days. Over the course of the day I spent a lot of time outside, bundled up against the crisp air to watch the ice unfold as we moved through it. We’ve been heading south, towards Wrangell Island, approaching the ice edge. At the periphery of the ice pack is the marginal ice zone where there starts to be more open water and the ice spreads out. This also happens to be quite the hangout for local inhabitants. With totally open water in view on the horizon I spotted two yellowish forms. As they came closer it became clear that these were two bears, intent


on something. Heads down and not moving much. They were a bit far away and hard to see, but fun to watch through the binoculars as they eventually walked off across the ice. They were merely the greeting party. Around to the other side of the ship we started to see groups of walruses all over the place. I don’t know the technical term for it, but they sit in packs on the ice, some with 30 or 40 members. Very odd creatures, with their flat faces, wide bodies, and long tusks. Many look like they can hardly move.

bears feeding on walrusThe thing about walruses is that they are quite the meal! Where there are walruses, you are bound to find bears. And indeed, we found bears. There must have been another 8 bears, or likely more, all in the same basic area. Some feasting, some wandering around. One on a lonely ice berg eventually jumped in the water to swim away from the ship as we approached. A couple of the bears were lucky to have pealed a walrus away from the pack. Blood coating their faces as they enjoyed a hard found meal. Others watched and waited their turn at the dinner table. An absolutely fantastic day!