A PLETHORA OF POLAR BEARS
Or as Norma refers to it, A Priceless Polar Bear Bonanza! We were cruising the Victoria Strait looking for sea ice. Both Ulukhaktok and Cambridge Bay are on Victoria Island which is the eighth largest island in the world.
Norma declined her ticket for the Unexpected Adventure which was a zodiac trip through the sea ice. I was on the first zodiac that left the ship and we saw some spectacular ice formations and colours. The water was so clear, we could see the bottom. No one knew anything about birds but I confirmed with Nigel that the flocks of ducks were Long Tails. As I stepped back on the ship, the Captain was making an announcement: A polar bear had been spotted by the Inuit guide, Stevie. Bad luck for me. The later zodiacs got up really close to the ice floe the bear was on. I met Norma who was heading up to the 13th deck to look for it. We got to watch him from one of the terrible scopes Crystal wasted their money on before heading down to the 7th deck where I had much better views with my binoculars. This is one time I wished I'd brought my scope.
We treated ourselves to some champagne at lunch in honour of our seeing our very first (and we thought maybe only) polar bear.
We no sooner got back to our room when another announcement was made. More polar bears were spotted. Back we went to the 13th deck where Nigel's birding scope was being used. We found out the ice floes they were on and watched them. They were still too far away for me to get pictures but we had good looks through Nigel's scope and my binoculars. We added another seven - now we've seen eight. Once the ship got too far away for good views we headed back to our room. We were just about to fall asleep when my computer pinged with another alert. A mother polar bear with two cubs was swimming near the back of the ship. We hastily pulled on our parkas and headed out. This time the Bears were close enough for me to get a picture with my point-and-shoot camera and when I expand them on my IPad they look quite spectacular. Then someone spotted a male bear near a fresh kill. Got great looks at this one guarding his kill which looked like a bloody mess on the ice. Then we noticed two more bears trying to get in on the pickings. In all, we saw 14 bears. I should note that the mother bear was quite wary of the big males. Her two-year old cubs looked very healthy. This spot obviously was a good feeding ground to support so many bears.
Last night we enjoyed a sapphire martini - very boozy before heading in to dinner at Silk Rose where we stuffed ourselves on wonderful Japanese food and I taught Norma how to use chopsticks.