Northern Lights Perfect Backdrop for Polar Bears

arctic_polar_bearackDaniel is the San Diego Zoo’s Teen Arctic Ambassador 2009. Read his previous post, Polar Bear Interrupts Debate on Climates.

Today I had to help make the meals for the buggy, which was really fun. While making breakfast, an Arctic fox was running around the buggy to say good morning to all of us. It was splendid because of his beautiful colors of white, black, and gray. I never thought I would describe an animal beautiful with such bland colors, but this fox truly was. After that we did videoconferences with kids from Winnipeg, Canada, and from Memphis, Tennessee. This was our first experience of spreading our experience and knowledge. It was a necessary stepping stone to my future presentations.

After lunch, we went on the Tundra Buggy for our last polar bear search before we go back into town tomorrow. This was our best wildlife viewing trip, starting with a pretty big Arctic hare. Now these things look like giant snow balls and it would take three or four of our cute little fluffy cottontail rabbits to make up one of these big guys. But just like the Arctic fox and the polar bear, they have ears on the small side so they don’t get frostbitten and fall off!

Then we saw a peregrine falcon flying around; according to Bill Watkins, our on-board biologist from Manitoba Conservation, they are not the most common bird around these parts, so that was very exciting. After that we pulled up to another young male bear. This one was not Bearnard, so it was exciting because this was our fourth bear! We named him Bearack (pictured above). We could tell that he was a different bear because he had no ear tags. This also means that he is new to the Churchill area. He could be a young bear or one that came in from another area on the ice floes when they broke up in the spring of this year.

One of the greatest things about spending this week with kids like me was that we all have become great friends. And you know you have a good friend when someone can do an awesome impression of you. Rachael, one of the Arctic Ambassador teens from Winnipeg, borrowed my sunglasses, and in her presentation it was like I was watching myself up there. She did an awesome job playing “the guy from San Diego.” After that, Bearack came over right under the buggy and got in our face and greeted us. This was huge to me because this was possibly the last wild polar bear I will ever see.

It is so important to me that all of us who live nowhere near wild polar bears can be part of the movement to help keep the Arctic cold so the polar bears can survive. I have been so inspired by meeting these people and these polar bears, and I know that people can use less energy, plant tons of trees, buy recycled products so we don’t have to use more resources, and do the hard stuff we need to do so that we can make things better for polar bears and all of the other things living on this planet.

Later that night we saw for the first time the Northern Lights. They were beautiful. I didn’t realize how much the Northern Lights would be moving. And they were waves coming across the sky. Fun fact: there are different colors of the Northern Lights; we saw green and purple ones. If it were possible, I think everyone needs to see them at some point in their life. This was definitely the way to end the trip, because we all congregated as one big group and just relaxed under them and watched this once-in-a-lifetime event. It was the proper Arctic farewell.

0 Responses to Northern Lights Perfect Backdrop for Polar Bears

  1. It’s incredible to see how beautiful these creatures are out in the wild. There are additional awesome pictures of the bears close to the buggy and the beautiful tundra on the PBI website. Go to student journals then facebook.

  2. Daniel, you are an amazing young man and I admire your enthusiasm. It is young people like yourself who are able to make changes in our world. I’m glad that you got to experience so many wonderful things on your trip and see these manificent bears close up. Thank you for caring enough to get involved with these wonder animals. I hope you have more adventures like this one

  3. I am proud of you Daniel for both your blogging ability and the fact that you were chosen to represent San Diego, the San Diego Zoo, and Patrick Henry High School as a Polar Bear Ambassador! Other than the fact that I am jealous that I haven’t seen the Northern Lights and you have, I am eager to see your pictures and hear your stories upon your return. I’ve hiked through many types of wilderness, and those experiences have transformed my view of life. May you have many more wilderness adventures throughout your lifetime — those experiences put what’s truly important in one’s life into sharp focus. Have a safe trip back to your urban home.

    R. Borden
    Biology Instructor
    Patrick Henry High School

  4. Congrats on a job well done. I have a friend who has seen the Northern Lights and says words just can’t describe it. Thank you again so much for sharing your adventure, doing what you do to help the polar bears, and have a safe trip home.

  5. Daniel, you are doing an exceptional job, reporting on your exciting journey. I know you are seeing all these animals in a different light (no pun ;), simply because of your extreme environment. Seeing a peregrine falcon is a monumental sighting. Also, when you stop to think about it, each and every animal on this planet, endangered or not, is very beautiful in its on way, even down to the lowly field mouse. When your exciting journey is done, and you return to your home, I hope you will view all animals the way you are seeing them now; beautiful, and exceptional. And I have always wanted to experience the “northern lights”, so I envy you that experience. You will never forget it!

  6. Thanks for sharing your great experience as the Polar Bear Ambassador. Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

    Moderator, what is around Chinook’s (?) neck at 6:30 PM on Monday, 10/5? It looks like a fire hose that is being worn like a scarf She appears to be out cold enjoying a long nap on the rocks. I think it is Chinook because it is a very dirty bear, and her nipple seems to be enlarged.

    Moderator’s note: Your question has been forwarded to our polar bear keepers.

  7. From the closeup of Chinook’s neck and head I can tell I wasn’t the only one that was wondering if she was ok. Looks like it is bones, or perhaps her favorite palm fronds that are draped over her?

  8. Thanks so much, Daniel, for your excellent reports from the field! You really are a terrific writer and I’m so glad that you are had this wonderful opportunity. Best of luck to you in all future endeavors!

  9. Is the newest camera view (10-6-09) of the new pool and rock area? It looks completely different than any view I have seen before so my guess is that is the new area for Chinook and family.

    Moderator’s note: The view at 1:30 p.m. shows the other end of the Plunge, not the new yard for Chinook and possible cub(s).

  10. Margaret #6 and 7
    That was Tatqiq, and she had a palm tree wrap torn and around her.