NOAA Teacher at Sea: Caroline Singler
Ship: USCGC Healy
Geographical area of cruise: Arctic Ocean
Polar Bear, Polar Bear! – 9 August 2010
Yes, folks, they are out here. There were a couple of sightings on Sunday 8 August, but I missed them both. However, Monday 9 August 2010 was the day that I saw my first polar bear in the Arctic. The last time I saw a polar bear was in the St. Louis Zoo, and it looked about as unhappy to be in the heat and humidity as I was. This time was a lot different.
I received a page while working in a lab on one of the lower decks. Before I turned off my pager, Bill came running down to get his camera and told me there was a polar bear off the port side of the ship. We could just barely see a spot on the distant horizon, slightly less white than the surrounding ice. I went up to the Bridge to get a better view, and most of the science team was there. I didn’t have to ask where it was; I just followed the line of everyone’s binoculars and cameras. Once I had a sense of what to look for and where to look, it became easier to spot, and it obliged us by moving closer to the ship. We were holding position at the time for a water sampling event, so we got a good long view as the bear ambled along. It was like watching a nature movie. It stopped every once in a while to sniff the air, and it walked along, stepping or jumping across melt ponds on the ice. We watched for at least a half hour before it moved out of site.Here are some of my best shots.