Victoria Moran from Parks Canada is on polar bear watch. Suddenly, there they are. A few hundred meters from the camp, a mother polar bear and her two-year old cub.
Two white animals that were not present a few minutes ago, and inland rather than along the icy shore, as we expected. The sea ice is breaking up and some polar bears move to shore in summer, looking for something to eat. It’s hard to catch seals without sea ice. The mother bear smells our camp and immediately urges her cub into a run to move away from us as quickly as possible.
Tremblay Sound is part of Tallurutiup Imanga, or Lancaster Sound, Canada’s largest and newly declared Marine Conservation Area. It’s teeming with Arctic wildlife, home to around 2,500 polar bears, most of the world’s narwhals during summer, bowhead and beluga whales, and walrus and Greenland sharks, to name just a few.
Today’s polar bear sighting has made it real to many of us that we are in polar bear country. The importance of the polar bear watch has really hit home, even when it means crawling out of our warm sleeping bags in the middle of the night!