The moment you see one is electric.
Amidst the endless miles of broken ice and snow-covered shoreline, there are two black eyes staring back, and it hits you with a jolt of recognition. We have a bear.
We have sailed for days through two days of fog and mist and bleak, barren landscapes north of 80° latitude with little to show for it. Steve and I stood staring through binoculars for hours on deck. Suddenly there he was, clear as day, a polar bear resting on a patch of steep snow, perched high enough to survey the surrounding miles of ice for his next meal. We stopped and watched, and the bear grew curious, sniffing the air, catching the scent of unwashed men and mouldering laundry.
Finally, he sits up on his back legs like an eager dog. There must be something dead to smell that bad.
August 6, 2009 - Nordaustlandet, Svalbard