Arctic adventure

Zodiac excursion in the Arctic - photo by Rob McFarland

Zodiac excursion in the Arctic - photo by Rob McFarland

An announcement comes over the public address system that there are two polar bears off the starboard bow.

It’s 7am. I stumble out of bed, bleary-eyed, and throw on some warm clothes. Up on deck, it’s a clear, crisp day and everyone is peering intently over the side, cameras and binoculars at the ready.

Suddenly, there’s a shout: “There they are!” All eyes focus on two white heads in the water a few hundred metres away. It’s a mother and her cub, clearly exhausted, desperately scanning the horizon for somewhere to rest.

The captain tells us we’re 190km from the nearest land. That’s a 60-hour swim.

We see other polar bears during our trip – lone males trundling over ice floes while sniffing the air – but I’ll never forget the heartbreaking sight of that mother and cub, struggling to survive in a rapidly changing environment.

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