This is primarily a blog about science, and that was what I was intending this post to be. However, pretty much all real work on the Oden came to a halt for several hours yesterday when a couple of locals paid us a visit (Photos 1, 2 and 3).
The polar bear and cub arrived while we were on station, i.e. stopped in approximately the same position, drifting with the ice, as various instruments were lowered down to the sea bed and back. The bears got close, 5 metres from the ship, perhaps attracted by the lunchtime smell of fried herring, and stayed long enough for many, many photos to be taken (Photo 4). And, well, they’re just too cute not to be worth a blog post. Science can wait!
It was a fantastic bit of luck to have bears come so close and stay for so long. While some of the crew were being necessarily cautious (the Oden’s flat stern could be climbed by a hungry enough bear, and was patrolled by the armed first mate), the other crew and scientists had a great, enjoyable afternoon, before heading off to the next station and a return to work.
I’ve already tweeted a couple of my own bear pictures, and Oden has many better photographers with very flash cameras and lenses. Björn Eriksson of Stockholm University and Dan Wolfe of NOAA have kindly let me post some of their pictures here.