POLAR BEAR WATCHING
A 2018 BIG
FISH EXPEDITIONS TRIP REPORT
Our 2018 Beluga and Polar
Bear Expedition in a Nutshell:
As usual the visibility was challenging but
there were plenty of friendly belugas once you duck dived
under the surface layer and the polar bear
encounters were excellent. On our second week we also had
some very close encounters with arctic foxes in their
blue-grey summer coats.
PLENTY OF WHALES
In July-August, Hudson Bay is packed with
belugas so it is a bit redundant to say that we saw plenty
of belugas. But, for the record, we did :)
As mentioned, the water clarity was challenging,
particularly on our first week, but the visibility
generally improves the deeper you go. Near the bottom of the
river mouth, it was virtually crystal clear.
Fortunately for those in our group that were
not experienced free-divers, even at the surface, some of
the whales came extremely close so they were able to get a
good look at them through the misty water. It is quite a
surreal experience to float on the surface and watch a
beluga materialize right in front of you!
Great Polar Bear
Each day after (or before) our beluga trips
we headed out onto the tundra to search for bears and
generally enjoy the rugged Tundra Landscapes. Our first
destination on our daily excursions is usually Miss Piggy; a
freight plane that lost an engine in 1979 and crashed onto
Last summer to commemorate Canada's 150th
birthday, the town commissioned a series of murals and Miss
Piggy was one of the landmarks that received a new coat of
The Polar Bear Jail also got a new look.
On one tundra foray we found a mother polar
bear with a cub, snoozing on some rocks by the shore. After
a while the mother stood up and her two year old cub ducked
under her belly to suckle. It was a lovely intimate moment
that is rarely seen especially in the summer.
Each week on the zodiac we spotted bears at
Eskimo Point - a favorite hang out for bears during the
summer. This mother and cub gave us some particularly good
Hike to the Ithaca
As usual, we times the tides and walked out
to the wreck of the Ithaca. I dončt recommend you try this
alone as there are often polar bears hanging out in the
wreck to avoid the summer sun. I have never had to fire my
shotgun but I always go armed - just in case.
Tundra Buggy Tour
At the end of each week we traded in our
zodiacs for a ride on the world famous Tundra Buggy. Both
trips were very enjoyable. The highlight of the first trip
was a very close polar bear encounter.
Our second Tundra Buggy tour afforded us some
close views of two gorgeous Arctic Foxes; a species that I
was thrilled to finally get some good images of.
In the winter, arctic foxes have pure while
fur that allows them to virtually disappear against the
Conversely, during the summer, they sport a
beautiful blue-grey-brown pelage that helps them blend into
the rocky tundra landscape.
Its not just mammals that change colour from
summer to winter. Ptarmigan completely shed their brown
summer plumage in order to hide from predators once thee
snow starts falling.
We also stumbled upon a few Barren Ground
Caribou. They do not herd during the summer but its cool to
see them foraging on the tundra.
Fire from the Gods
Our second week was overcast but our guests
on week one were treated to some fabulous Northern Lights.
To make the most of the activity, we drove
deep into the tundra where there was no light polution from
the town. Using flashlights to light up the ground, we were
able to capture some very compelling images.
Even when the activity was low there were
still fantastic views of the Milky Way.
The Many Moods of the
I am always looking for new angles and ways
to capture the gorgeous tundra landscape. This year I took
my housing out on the truck rides. This is first attempt at
Tundra splits. I'll work more on this next year.
That is pretty much how 2018 unfolded. We will be back next
year and I hope that you can join us for our
2019 beluga Whale