Cameraman John Shier had to think fast when a bear grabbed his boat’s anchor.
While filming polar bears hijacking beluga whales in Hudson Bay, the team had a day when things did not go to plan. A polar bear had picked up the anchor of their boat and was reeling them in when the boat snagged on a rock. John Shier was one of the crew.
“Ask yourself this: what’s the worst thing that can happen to a small boat, surrounded by swimming polar bears, with four guys and about $800,000 worth of film equipment on board? I would say it’s running aground on a rock, with the tide dropping rapidly and a polar bear swimming a couple of hundred metres away. And, that’s exactly what happened.
Gunning the motor didn’t budge the boat, and pushing off the bottom with oars didn’t help. There was nothing else for it, I had to jump into the cold water. With me under the bow pushing and the skipper pulling on the stern, we were free again. There was barely enough water for us to make our escape. It was only after I clambered back on board that it dawned on me: I had swam with a polar bear!”