Churchill fieldwork 5.

Everybody back in the truck!

While Brandon and I were sampling tundra ponds with several field course participants, Joao headed off with another group to a forest area not far from the research station. He is one of the people with a firearms license, so he was on bear duty. And a good thing, as he spotted a mother and cub (the most dangerous situation) not far from where the researchers and students were. In fact, Paul Hebert — ever the intrepid naturalist — had trudged farther ahead and was unaware of the bears’ proximity.

Paul and Joao, before anyone noticed the bears (see the two white objects off to the right). Photo by Gergin Blagoev.

Close up of bears.

One of the students, Monica Young, caught this video and you can hear them discussing Paul’s whereabouts.

Everyone was fine, but I am sure it was very exciting!

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Update:
This afternoon, Brandon joined a group of other graduate students working on a rock bluff and, as he described it, “we thought we saw a wave coming on shore, and then the wave had a face”. It was a large male polar bear. The group retreated to the van and everyone was fine, though I suspect some hearts were pounding nonetheless.

Another update:
Apparently there was a bear very close to the station today that was chased away by the staff. With the ice melted, the bears are moving back in land. I remain one of the few who hasn’t seen one yet this year.

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Click here for the Churchill fieldwork posts.


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