by Andy MacPherson, Head Wilderness Guide, Churchill Wild.
The first plane of the season brought us a small group of new guests with a shared interest in adventure travel and wildlife. All were hoping to experience some of the many and varied opportunities available at Seal River Heritage Lodge, and we found them.
We were lucky on all accounts, seeing our first polar bear on our first full day in the intertidal zone just south of the lodge. We slowly approached a mid-sized male polar bear chilling close to the waters edge among the rocks. He watched our approach and seemingly tolerated our paparazzi-type style for an hour before deciding to move on down the coast towards the Seal River.
Our second full day was spent on the Zodiacs watching curious belugas circle around and underneath us while we were busy looking for bears on shore. We’d planned to spend the whole day out on the water, so we’d brought along a lunch prepared by Haley and Sam at the lodge, and as the tide rose, so did the bears!
We ended up watching a small transient community of bears jockey for position around a previously killed Beluga whale. Large males dominated the scene, while a few sets of mothers and cubs would walk in to see if they could also partake, but to no avail. We counted 16 bears of all sexes and sizes in the area before the tide pushed us back towards the lodge for dinner.
We saw a huge healthy female the next day dining on fresh kelp. She worked her way through the water alongside a shoal, diving and eating and diving and eating, until she found a small island to nap on in the cool breeze.
On our final day we headed north to Hubbard Point, where four big healthy posers gave us some great photo opportunities. We then beached our Zodiacs for lunch and took a quick hike up to an amazing Thule site on top of the ridge.
On our last night at the lodge, Paul and Boomer organized guest photos for a great end-of-trip slideshow, allowing everyone to enjoy these shared experiences one more time. We meet polar bears here, but we also make many new friends.