Polar Bears in Raudfjorden Svalbard

By Isley Reust

As we sail into the heart of the frigid wilderness, the Arctic holds some of the
worlds most incredible natural wonders on Earth. Gradually making our way up
to the north of Svalbard, we decided to stop and anchor for the night in the icy
Fuglefjorden. The night was calm, the midnight sun hidden behind the low
clouds, with the silence occasionally being interrupted by the sounds of ice
crunching against our ship.

In the middle of the night as I lie there in my warm bunk, I would occasionally
wake up to sounds of Beluga whales singing in the distance. It was like a
symphony of the Arctic, the enchanting melodies of the whales resonated
through the icy waters and silent ship. It felt like a dream but was indeed very
real, and to this day it remains one of my fondest memories and experiences.

As morning approached, Heinz made an announcement, that today we were
going to go on a mission to find some polar bears out on the sea ice north of
Raudfjorden. Everyone on the ship was eager to lay eyes on and photograph
one of these majestic creatures in the wild. The excitement aboard the ship was
high, but little did we know what surprises nature had planned for us that day.

Diane, had a conversation over the radio with another ship in the vicinity that
morning, and the ship had reported to spotting five polar bears the day before in
Raudfjorden. At this point the thrill of the chase was on.

Roughly a couple hours later amidst the ice and frigid waters, someone spotted
a distant figure, a polar bear gracefully traversing the icy terrain. Though it was
barely discernible with the naked eye, the zoom lens of my camera revealed the
bear’s presence, faintly.

Before long, Heinz made an even more thrilling discovery, two polar bears
walking on the ice, drawing closer to our ship. The excitement and joy was at an
all time high at this point as we all watched in awe.

To the right of our vessel, a flock of birds on the ice piqued my interest. Zooming
in, I spotted a lifeless walrus sprawled on the ice, its carcass providing a feast
for the opportunistic birds. It suddenly became clear where the polar bears were

Not too far from our position, a mother polar bear and her cub emerged from the
icy waters onto the ice. They alternated between walking on the ice and
swimming. It was truly amazing to witnessing these magnificent creatures in
their natural habitat as they shake the water from their fur and continue to walk
across the ice, eventually reaching a circular iceberg with the lifeless walrus.

The two polar bears joined the birds, filling their bellies with walrus meat. It was
a spectacle of nature’s raw beauty and the circle of life in its most unfiltered
form, and this was a first for me to witness. After they finished their meal, the
bears slowly made their way back to land, where they indulged in some playful
antics and a well-deserved nap before bidding us farewell as we sailed away.

That evening as I lie in my bunk, the memory of this extraordinary day played out
over and over through my head, from the polar bear encounter still fresh on my
mind, to the Beluga whales songs echoing through the icy waters. It’s a
humbling reminder that our planet’s polar regions hold beautiful mysteries and
wonders beyond our imagination.

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