A travel moment in the Arctic


A black dot in the distance is all that breaks up the pure white landscape. As the ship trundles closer we see that it's a seal basking luxuriously in the frigid Arctic Sun. Nothing particularly noteworthy in that, and the warmth and comfort of our cabins beckon. Just as I turn to go back inside a voice hesitantly says 'is that...is that a polar bear?' My head whips around as all eyes dart back out to the ice. Sure enough, almost invisible against the white background, is a polar bear and her cub about ten feet behind the seal. Slowly, and with the cunning of the natural born killer, the bear advances. The seal, his mind on other things, remains oblivious to the impending peril. Everyone on deck watches with horrified fascination, like spectators at an execution. The bear has closed the gap to eight feet. People talk to one another in breathless whispers. Privately, they're all baying for blood. Six feet. The seal yawns with boredom and lazily gazes at its reflection in the ocean. Four feet. We all lean forward in anticipation and wait with bated breath. The tension is tangible. The bear prepares to pounce. No one dares make a sound. It has to be now. Yes...

Crash!! The sudden noise of the ship breaking through the ice startles the bear out of his reverie. He swirls around not a moment too soon. The bear, off balance for a moment, regains her composure and hurls herself at the seal! But she's too late; her claws miss him by millimetres as he dives head-first into the icy depths of the ocean. The bear follows, hot on his heels. She stays under for what seems like an age. Finally she resurfaces - alas! empty-handed. Everyone on board lets out a groan of disappointment. The bear glowers at the ship, before setting off with her cub for more fruitful hunting grounds.

C McGlynn

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