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Bear on island

21 July 2016

We have an afternoon fieldwork on the island Storholmen. Margje and Jesse are leaving temperature loggers in goose nests and sampling tundra soil for fleas. Maarten and Janwillem are counting all geese on the island and reading their rings. When they have read all rings, they go ringing arctic tern chicks. All afternoon we are regularly checking the neighbouring islands. Than Verena, stationleader of AWIPEV calls us on the radio. There is a big bear sleeping on Innerholmen. Also Nick Cox wanted to make sure that we knew and landed a person on Storholmen to warn us. That is still OK. We all have a radio, and both groups have a flare pistol and a rifle. Margje and Jesse are working on the other side of the island, but Maarten and Janwillem have a perfect view in the direction of the other islands and a telescope. We only can see two reindeer resting. But one hour later, we are warned again over the radio. The polar bear is on the move. A few minutes later, Janwillem see it appear on Midtholmen. It lays down again on the top of the island. But this is close enough (still 1300 meter) to evacuate. Jesse and Margje were also ready with their work, so we go together to the boat. We go a bit closer to check the bear and find it on the other side of Midtholmen on a beach. From 300 meter distance we make some pictures. The bear moves up again and lies down. It seems to sleep but you can stil see how it is watching us. We decide to leave it in peace.

Pictures Maarten Loonen en Margje de Jong

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