Day 12 |
Sep 18, 2010

Lower Savage Islands

By Chris Srigley, General Naturalist

Weather: Overcast and windy 

Approaching the Lower Savage Islands, for our second day in Canada, the fog and rain persisted shrouding the islands in mystery. Today was all about our hunt for Ursis maritimus, the Polar bear!!

A small group of islands off of the southeastern shore of Baffin Island, the Lower Savage Islands are a common location for polar bears to be found during the summer months. With plenty of land to roam and give each other wide birth, plus opportunity for the odd feed, it seems many bears locate here as the ice vanishes.

The channels consist of three larger islands separated by two channels, which we would cruise while the ship repositioned itself to meet us at either end in case some guests had wanted to return to the ship.

After loading our first guests at 0800, the Prince Albert II drifted off the island group and we headed into the fog. Within minutes our first bear had been spotted perched along the shoreline of a smaller island inside the bay. Spending a few minutes photographing what seemed to be a thin and hungry bear, we left it on its own and continued our journey.

Cruising through the barren landscape, gulls circled above and seals popped their heads out of the water for a quick inspection before vanishing below the waters surface and moving on. The activity going on around us was much more than you would have thought at first glance.

After returning to the vessel for a quick lunch, the Zodiacs were once again lowered and loaded as we headed off once again in search of the polar bear. By this time the wind had picked up slightly but it was not enough to dampen our spirits. A little spray would bother no one.

After the few rocks that from a distance presented themselves as bears once again, we spotted a resting bear high on a cliff. Slowing down the Zodiacs, we approached slowly so as not to disturb it.

Once under the cliff we were able to get wonderful views as it peered down inspecting us from above. Once again though it was time to leave this magnificent creature to enjoy its day. Our search would continue.

Just before 1700 the Prince Albert II was back in position on the northern side of the islands. It had been a fantastic day at the Lower Savage but it was now time to board the ship and make for tomorrow’s destination.

All said and done, some 9 polar bears were sighted with a good number of those being the first for most people. The smiles on their faces said it all, ‘We’re hooked!’