Co-ordinates: 61° 49' 52" N, 65° 46' 20" W and 61°15’ 10” N, 64°55’ 36” W
Weather: cloudy, drizzly
Air Temperature: 39.7°F / 4.3°C
Like everyone, I was relieved that the predicted heavy weather did not materialize and awoke ready for our first day of serious scouting for polar bears. Indeed, it proved a banner day for the ship and our guests as we broke our old record of seeing 5 polar bears at Lower Savage Islands last year with a dozen this year, and one group claimed a “baker’s dozen” with a 13th. I was pleased to see I had not mis-remembered its rugged beauty. Despite a somewhat choppy beginning the wind dropped and the waters calmed inside the Islands’ protective channels and it was so exciting that one passage through the islands just wasn’t sufficient. A few of our group opted to return to the Prince Albert II, which had conveniently repositioned to meet us at the south end of the channel. Those of us remaining in the Zodiacs made the northward tour through another channel and caught up with the ship on its way to retrieve us at the far end.
In addition to the magnificent polar bears, we were also treated to sightings of Canada geese, red-throated diver, and black guillemots. We also saw several seals popping up their heads, partly out of curiosity and largely I suspect, to ensure we were neither polar bears, nor hunters. After nearly 3 hours of adventure we returned to the ship to warm up, enjoy lunch and prepare for the afternoon’s events.
While the ship repositioned to Resolution Island, we offered two lecture options prior to preparations for another Zodiac tour. This proved to be not only the first visit by the Prince Albert II but the first visit for all the members of the Expedition Team and the guests as well.
Although the sea was somewhat choppy, this dropped to a mirrorlike surface and the wind was silenced once we entered the interior channels and bays. There was more evidence of human visitation than on other islands since this island had served as a military base well into the 20th century. However, it did not diminish the raw beauty that encircled us. As it was later in the day we decided to limit our tour to about 1.5 hours but still saw two polar bears and glaucous gulls.
The Restaurant was abuzz through dinner with everyone comparing the day’s adventures and the various sightings and to whom credit might belong for spotting this or that bear first. During these lighthearted debates, the Prince Albert II weighed anchor for tomorrow’s adventures.