Friday, September 18, 2009

Malmgren Island, Svalbard, Norway

The big bear stands atop the island like he was king of the hill. He was certainly lord of this square mile or two of weathered dolomite rock, filled with bird nests in summer and surrounded by endless seal-populated acres of ice as far as his beady little black eyes could see. It doesn't look like a bad life, all things considered.

He was easy enough to spot as we motored through the archipelago in the zodiac in a morning of fog and cold. A small cream-colored spot on the ancient brown rock. He glared down at us from his perch, but soon grew bored and went back to sleep. The big boat joined us, but we had to wait until nearly midnight before the bear finally woke and deigned to visit.

A quick bank of fog arrived at the same time he did, and the six of us jockeyed for position on deck, shooting into the misty half-dusk. I finally slipped down into the zodiac for a better angle, and Heinrich hopped in top paddle me closer.

Steve practically leapt off the deck to get into the boat, like it was the last lifeboat off a sinking ship. Smart boy, that.

August 13, 2009 - Nordaustlandet, Svalbard

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