LIGHT ’EM UP

Elle (Canada) - - Escape -

My last day out on the tun­dra be­gan with a very early but very ex­cit­ing wake-up call. “The north­ern lights are out!” cheered Shep­hard as she ran through the bunkhouse around 5 a.m. I went out on the deck and watched the swirling green bands flicker and fade and reap­pear in the dark, star­specked sky un­til the hori­zon ripened into vi­brant tan­ger­ine and then soft­ened into a fuch­sia that made the snow­—and the po­lar bears—glow pink. At other times, the bears had ap­peared icy white and creamy yel­low, so I was fas­ci­nated to learn that po­lar-bear fur ac­tu­ally has no pig­ment. “It’s the colour of am­bi­ent light—it ab­sorbs and re­flects what is in the en­vi­ron­ment—and nor­mal sun­light is white light,” ex­plained Am­strup. We rushed out in our Tun­dra Buggy to try to cap­ture shots of the bears in this per­fect but fleet­ing light. “I’m not sure I got good pic­tures, but it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter,” Sam Rob­bins, a 28-year-old Aus­tralian who’d made a solo voy­age here to see the bears, told me. A decade ago, her mother, a teacher, had con­nected her class­room with this place through a PBI we­b­cast fea­tur­ing sci­en­tists who showed off live shots of the bears. “I al­ways re­mem­bered that, and I wanted to see it first-hand,” she said. n

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