Last weekend a tour group saw no less than eight polar bears on the east coast of Spitsbergen. Most charming of all were probably the two cubs lying and enjoying themselves with momma bear.
"It was a very special experience," said Ronny Brunvoll (pictured), director of Tourism Svalbard.
The trip across the island became a memory for life. In Mohnbukta the snowmobiling party saw six polar bears, all busy with their things. Furthermore, in Dunérbukta they saw the additional two.
– "The strangest thing was when we stopped to eat up on a hillside," Brunvoll said. "Suddenly two large bears came ambling just below us, a few hundred meters away. A big whopper of a male bear went first; a bit further behind came another. But while we were at a safe distance."
Has he seen polar bears often?
"No. I have seen a female polar bear at Tempelfjorden, and I have seen bears twice from boats and at a telescopic distance," said Brunvoll while describing the supreme experience of what he lives off in the marketplace.
The tourism leader was not alone and there were many who could enjoy the sight because of relatively heavy traffic at Mohnbukta from locals, tourists and students at The University Centre in Svalbard. While Terje Weiseth filmed and took photographs, Brunvoll could also note the tour group kept a respectful distance and didn't drive too close to the animals.
"There was a female bear with cubs completely concealed by the ice and it was more of a coincidence that we saw it," Brunvoll said. "Those that stood out on the ice were easy to see, a female bear lying is harder to spot. In addition to the female bear with two cubs, there seemed to be a little drama going out on the ice between two males who were interested in one and the same female bear."
"An amazing moment. It is a magnificent animal and it does make one think about their future with the environmental changes we have."