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Tracking the Beaufort bears: Day 15

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WWF’s polar bear coordinator, Geoff York, keeps up his field knowledge with trips out onto the ice to check on the condition of the bears. This year, he is keeping a daily blog of his experiences over two weeks. Keep visiting this blog for regular updates and live the life of a polar bear biologist.

By Geoff York

I am the first one up and start two pots of good strong coffee. A graduate student from the University of Wyoming flew in yesterday as my replacement for the last day of capture from Kaktovik and the crew’s pending move to Deadhorse. It’s going home day for me, so I am having an extra burst of energy and decide to make waffles for the gang. Between the smells of coffee and breakfast, a few weary eyes start appearing around the kitchen table. It is another bluebird day, though the winds will continue to make it a little uncomfortable on the ground.

The crew readies for a long day out on the ice while I catch up with laundry and get my gear ready to fly south. I also start packing up the extra capture gear, food, and miscellaneous supplies and begin cleaning up the bunkhouse. The team will depart Kaktovik tomorrow as well, spending the balance of this season working along the Central coast from Deadhorse. They will have their hands full tomorrow morning, so I do what I can to make their jobs a little easier.

The day passes quickly tying up loose ends and I am on a south bound flight by late afternoon. When I step off the small plane in Fairbanks, I am surprised by the warmth. By comparison to the past two weeks spent at -20 C, often with winds, 8 degrees of calm sunny weather feels like summer! Once again, I have travelled in time by flying south and have gone from winter to spring in an hour and thirty minute long flight. I sit outside on a bench between flights and just enjoy the sun and view of the Alaska Range to the south of town.

I will miss the polar bear research crew, the frozen ice, the ice bears, and Kaktovik- until we meet again.

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