Happy solstice everyone! Between now and the end of the calendar year I'm going to post some of the highlights of my year. When I'm away, I tend to disconnect from the internet, and hence most of my most wonderful moments have not been recorded here.
I spent the month of June on an ice-breaker north from Aberdeen to Spitzbergen, and then on a yacht, the Noorderlicht, sailing around the arctic island. It was altogether amazing, and quite a few of my year's highlights happened that month.
Without doubt this counts as one of the most special encounters of my year - can this be a vegetarian polar bear? Here he is, chewing on seaweed. We watched him from the yacht for a good long while, as he padded about on the shore, chomping away on big chunks of kelp. Our wildlife expert on board was as surprised as I was to see this. I don't know if this is a regular occurrence - seaweed is presumably a great source of minerals - but polar bears are normally characterised as strict meat eaters. Perhaps it indicates severe hunger. We have seen some awful pictures of starving polar bears this year, as they struggle to cope with the melting sea ice. Maybe someone out there can shed light on this?
Thanks to Jan Oosterhuis, who took this picture.
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