Arctic Expedition at Sea: Day 5 of 9

Cruises > Arctic Expedition at Sea: Day 5 of 9

Set the course on an extraordinary Polar expedition. In this blog, we sail on an Arctic expedition at sea, tracing the fearless path of the Ocean Explorer.

It’s the 5th day of a remarkable 9-day voyage along the Northwest Passage. So, join us as Polar travelers chase the northern lights, encountering breathtaking landscapes and fascinating wildlife. Onboard the Ocean Explorer, the Arctic Circle unfolds, revealing the beauty and challenges of these Polar regions.

Unforgettable Polar Bear Encounters in the Arctic

Bears, bears, and more bears! What an extraordinary day at sea on this Arctic expedition! A surprise greeted us as we sat down for dinner last night.


It’s none other than a polar bear right outside the dining room window! Everyone rushed to catch a glimpse, and some of us even left our dinners behind to venture onto the outer decks. 

The bear’s unfazed demeanor in our hours-long company treated us to an incredible experience. It dug itself a cozy bed in the sea ice and peacefully slept right in front of our ship. The encounter was so mind-blowing that it was worth going a bit hungry for!

After saying goodnight to the bear, we sail on, trying to reach the North Pole. Imagine our delight when we woke up this morning to yet another stunning sight. It was a beautiful polar bear right in front of our ship! We were privileged to observe the bear as it gracefully walked across the sea ice and began stalking a ringed seal. 

Although the hunt was not successful, witnessing the bear’s focused and calculated movements was an incredible experience. The expedition teams observed the bear swimming around the ice and crawling with a low stance, displaying its remarkable hunting behavior. While the polar bear attack didn’t succeed, it certainly rewarded us with a memorable display.

A Closer Look at Polar Bears

Following this breathtaking bear sighting, we attended a captivating lecture by Heidi. She shared her expertise on polar bears and taught us how to assess their well-being.

Heidi taught us about the fatness index, rating polar bears from 1 to 5. After Heidi’s enlightening session, we headed to lunch, ready to increase our own “fatness index.”

But just as we were about to indulge, another thrilling announcement captured our attention – the sighting of the 7th bear! The decision was tough – dessert or bear encounter? The bears won, of course! 

Polar bears are icons of the Arctic, perfectly adapted to the extreme conditions of the region. So, here’s what we got from the lecture.

The Frozen Frontier

Polar bears are icons of the Arctic, perfectly adapted to the extreme conditions of the region. Their primary habitat is the sea ice that covers the Arctic Ocean.

Often, you can find them around East Greenland and the Russian High Arctic. Unlike other bear species, polar bears are marine mammals. They rely on the sea ice as a platform for hunting seals, their main source of food.

The sea ice is not just a hunting ground but also a crucial part of their life cycle. Female polar bears use the ice as a place to create dens for giving birth and raising their cubs. This relationship with sea ice makes them uniquely dependent on the polar environment. This makes them highly susceptible to the impacts of climate change.

As climate change accelerates, the reduction of sea ice poses a significant threat to polar bears. The melting and thinning of the ice affect their ability to hunt and find mates. Furthermore, it leads to longer periods of fasting and reduced reproductive success.

Masters of the Arctic Feast

Carnivorous apex predators, polar bears mainly feed on seals, with a particular focus on ringed and bearded seals in their diet. They are skilled hunters, relying on their acute sense of smell. They use this to detect seal breathing holes in the ice from great distances.

During the winter months, polar bears primarily hunt seals by waiting at breathing holes or breaking into seal dens. In summer, when the sea ice retreats, they may also hunt seals resting on the ice floes. Or, they navigate between ice patches in search of prey.

Adapted to the feast-and-famine lifestyle of Arctic hunting, their metabolism functions efficiently. A successful seal hunt can sustain a polar bear for an extended period. This allows them to endure the scarcity of food during the warmer months when the ice is sparse.

Notably, polar bears exhibit resourceful feeding behavior. They will scavenge on whale carcasses and bird eggs when the opportunity arises. However, seals remain their primary and essential food source.

Solitary Wanderers

Polar bears are generally solitary animals, and their social structure is not as complex as some other bear species. The solitary nature of polar bears is partly because of the vastness of their Arctic habitat. The distribution of their primary prey, which are seals, is a factor as well.

Adult polar bears are territorial. The range and size of their territory vary based on the availability of food. Male bears, in particular, have larger home ranges that may overlap with the smaller ranges of several females.

During the mating season, however, social behavior takes a different turn. Male polar bears actively seek out females for mating. Moreover, conflicts between males over access to a female in estrus can occur.

Female polar bears, on the other hand, are protective of their cubs, and families may stay together for an extended period. Mother bears invest considerable time and energy into raising their cubs. They teach them essential survival skills before they venture out on their own.

More Polar Bear Moments to Cherish

Continuing our Arctic expedition at sea, we found a suitable spot for a landing. Then, we embarked on our excursion onto the sea ice, complemented by a zodiac exploration. The scene was breathtaking, with picturesque sea ice and inviting melt pools shimmering under the sun. 

And guess what? Yes, you guessed it right – another bear graced us with its presence! 

Our keen scouts spotted one in the distance, prompting us to evacuate the landing area. As if that wasn’t enough, a second bear made an appearance – truly two bears for the price of one! We all made our way back on board and witnessed the incredible sight of the polar bears. 

One bear ventured away, while the other approached the ship with a curious demeanor. It even stood on its hind legs at one point, a sight that left us all in awe. It proceeded to explore around the ship and sniffed out our landing site, captivating the entire ship with its curiosity.

Capping Off Day 5 of 9 of the Arctic Expedition

How fortunate we were to have such a remarkable encounter with these majestic creatures. Indeed, it was an expedition to the Arctic that will forever remain etched in our memories. We felt a deeper respect for the wildlife and want to be more environmentally responsible.

This Polar exploration had truly graced us with an unparalleled experience. We felt privileged to have been a part of this extraordinary Arctic Expedition at sea.

Read Arctic Expedition Day 4 of 9.

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