FIELD NOTES

Cam­era­man John Shier had to think fast when a bear grabbed his boat’s an­chor.

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - SEVEN WORLDS | ONE PALNET -

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!”

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