Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Winter on Diomede Part 2

Polar Bear, Iceberg, Ice Floe  Little Diomede is located in the middle of the ocean between Alaska and Russia, about a half mile from the International Date Line and a couple miles from Big Diomede.  It is surrounded by water.

In the fall and spring, before the ocean freezes solid between the two islands, we see chunks of ice float down from the north where they broke off of the larger sheets of ice.  Occasionally, you see Polar Bears on the ice as it floats by, heading south.

I've seen something similar to the scene in the photo but the polar bear was running along sheets of ice, jumping to another one as he ran out of ice.  I don't think this one made it because the ice was flowing south between the two islands and the ice was slowly melting.  It might have if it jumped off the moving ice to head for King Island, about half way to Nome. By this time, King Island was completely abandoned.  I don't think anyone had lived there in 30 or 40 years.

Although polar bears look so cute and adorable, they are not in person which is why the call went out one long weekend that a polar bear had landed.  The day after Thanksgiving the word spread throughout the village that an adult polar bear was lumbering around the school.  Several men, threw on their coats and boots, grabbed guns, before running out the door.  Everyone knows polar bears can be as nasty as any other type of bear. 

One man just threw his coat over his pajamas because his concern was for the safety of the children.  They tracked the bear to the narrow crevice between the school and the hillside.  They said the bear had come to the island to die because it was old and starving. One man said the claws were the wrong color for a healthy bear.    I am just thankful, I didn't hear about it till it was over.

In the three years I worked on the island, only one polar bear landed on the island and I routinely saw another two to three floating by on sheets of ice.  It is awesome to observe them at a distance but I would never ever want to be close to one unless they were in a zoo on the other side of a fence.  

One of few times I saw a polar bear was on a windy day, where the snow swirled across the landscape.  The only reason, I knew there was a polar bear was the yellowish blob was moving across the landscape, otherwise, it would have blended in with the surroundings.

I hope you never come face to face with a polar bear.  Have a good day and let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear from you.

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