Tag Archives: Cruise North
Life finds a way,…
Strong, agile, and so cute you just want to pet them behind the ears – but not advisable.
Encountering this polar bear family with my camera in hand was a totally amazing moment, and one that I’m sure will be hard to replicate again! After this experience, I don’t think I’ll be able to read the “three little bears” quite the same way ever again either…LOL
So, I know you’re bursting at the seams to ask: “How close were you”…Well, after giving the question some deep thought, I’ll simply say: I was close enough…LOL And quickly confess that it really doesn’t get any better than this. From a technical standpoint, capturing these guys in the RAW was very difficult, as I took these photos from a zodiac bobbing up and down in choppy water. But, with a fast enough camera shutter speed (1/1600ths of a second) I was able to capture the show. I used my Canon 70-200 with an extender, and shot just about all my pictures at 400mm. It was tough trying to time everything with the movement of the waves (pushing my camera shutter down as the wave brought us down), but I’m very happy with the result. The really neat thing here, though, is that these bears wanted to see us just as much as we wanted to see them. So, we both pushed our comfort zones for the sake of curiosity, and that’s the neatest thing of all!
During my Cruise North expedition in Canada’s arctic waters I came across some incredibly massive icebergs that towered high above the waterline (and what we see above the waterline is only a fraction of their actual size!). The iceberg featured here was just “floating around” in Strathcona Sound, Nunavut. On this sunny day of September 8th, 2010, my brother and I (along with the rest of the passengers aboard the Lyubov Orlova) had the great privilege to jump in some zodiacs and tour around this iceberg. It was a beautiful moment, and something we had quite a bit of time to enjoy on account our cruise ship was ‘docked’ at Nanisivik to refuel before finishing the last leg of the voyage, and heading home.
My pictures here make it hard to establish a sense of scale, but if you look for the zodiac carriers that we used to navigate around you can begin to appreciate the human scale. In some cases, I could barely fit everything I was seeing with my 16mm camera lens in hand! An all-out WOW moment, but if that was not enough, we soon saw a seal bobbing its head up-and-down in the water, and as we tried to approach it with civility, another spectacular moment of chance caught our already heighted attention- a lone male polar bear relaxing on the shoreline.
Last night I topped my hamburger with some iceberg lettuce, and began thinking about the spectacular icebergs I saw floating around (some for hundreds of years) in the High Arctic. Like ice cubes floating in a clear glass of water, the ice I could see topping over the waterline during my travels was just a fraction of its overall size, as the bulk of an ice cube’s mass floating in a liquid is submerged.
I’ve always held this mental image that Canada’s northern waters were littered with jagged ice cubes floating all over the place, but that didn’t appear to be the case where (and when) my expedition travelled. I suppose that makes sense, because if it was really like that then that wouldn’t make for smooth travels. Yet, the cubes I did see were all out massive, and after giving it some serious thought, I cannot understand how the Titanic could have missed something like that. But, more than ever, I now appreciate how an iceberg could have sunk the Titanic. Titanic is a big word, but the colossal is even bigger, and these cubes were colossal in my esteem.
Yes, these cute “little” white bears sometimes get a bit red flushed in the face after a nice meal, and not because of the wine. Taking this photo was kind of bitter sweet for me. I was really happy to see this polar bear eating, and for having found something to eat in what otherwise appears to be a expansive landscape of barren and jagged rock. Yet, at the same time, I also realized that there is life all around this big bear, and something else had to die in order for me to get this shot. So, as the story goes, such is the circle of life.
The Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) may be the world’s largest land carnivore, and the largest of all bears, but those facts would never deter me from giving them a loving noogie behind their white furry ears if I ever had the chance! These magnificent creatures are so amazingly cute, and surprisingly agile despite their hefty size! But, sadly, I was advised during my travels in the High Arctic that sneaking up behind a polar bear to give them a noogie was strongly not advised…LOL…and how could I ignore the finger waving warning when the males among them can grow up to 10 feet tall and weigh up to 770 kilograms, WOW!
This moment marked the first time I saw a polar bear in the flesh, and it’s official, I’ve fallen totally in love with the species, and having had the chance to photograph them in the RAW is most certainly a top 10 moment in life for me!
Holy Flower Power!!! Never ever in a million billion years would I have anticipated seeing flowers growing in Canada’s High Arctic, but as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow the arctic landscape is indeed capable of nurturing flower seed!
While most of the landscape I saw was barren rock, and well above the tree line, there were intense pockets of ‘lush vegetation’ and with it photographic inspiration. I’ve always enjoyed photographing flowers, but working angles all over these guys in the High Arctic was extra special. In what I would imagine to be among the most barren and inhospitable places to live on planet earth, life finds a way to sprout and shout a flair of resiliency and colour – if only for a few weeks of the year! Damn, I really do think it’s amazingly inspirational stuff…and I don’t have enough room to showcase them all!
Cruising aboard the Lyubov Orlova – a Russian class ship – in Canada’s high arctic waters. Equiped with Zodiacs and a stellar crew, it was a real pleasure crusising aboard this ship. Yet, for the record, my body never got use to the rocking motion of the open seas. So, if I ever set sail again I’ll be sure to bring some high powered meds to avoid sea sickness and keep my food down…LOL
Length: 100m (328 feet)
Draft: 4.65m (15 feet)
Engines: Twin diesel 3,884 kW (2640 hp each), twin propeller with bow thrusters
Cruising Speed: 12 knots
Passengers: 122 max
Earlier this month my brother and I respectively left the urban jungles of Toronto and Ottawa to embark upon a ‘trip of a lifetime’ in Canada’s High Arctic waters. During our expedition through the vast and barren Canadian Territories of Nunavik and Nunavut we crossed the Arctic Circle at 66-32 North Latitude. Crossing the Arctic Circle by sea was a total rush that touched my cool skin with a wave of excitement and warm feelings! With my camera in one hand, and a Champaign glass in the other, I toasted the all-inspiring moment under the blow of the ship’s deep sounding horn – a horn that powerfully resonated three times through the quietly still snow-capped fjords framing the experience. Over the next couple of days I will begin posting some of my pics from this trip of a lifetime, and use my blog to profile some neat stuff I learned about arctic wildlife, botany, landscape, and politics…
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