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Two young scientists share their experiences doing fieldwork in remote Northeast Greenland, check out their blog

An unwanted visitor

Yesterday it finally happened––a polar bear came to visit the station! I was in the boathouse filtering water––my usual location. Suddenly I hear Jonas––the Daneborg station logistics manager––yell from far “bear!”

Everyone was informed about the polar bears presence via the radio. The bear was hanging out around some old oil barrels, and the Sirius patrol came out to scare it away. They used flare guns, with exploding rounds of bangers that sounded like fireworks to scare the bear away. This bear was a very small one, and it probably was attracted by the smell of burning trash. After it got scared away, it came back. The Sirius patrol came again to scare it away, but this time the polar bear got into the water. Henry, Mikael, Mie and Carl were out on the boat and decided to have a look at the swimming bear.

I am afraid of bears. Whenever I spend time in areas with bears and I’m alone, mostly in boreal forests, I have this strategy to bring a speaker and play loud music, to not surprise and scare a bear with my presence. Yes, it also scares away other wildlife I would like to see, but I have decided that on lonely sampling days, I prefer no bears at the cost of not seeing any wildlife at all. Here, we all put on loud music to deal with the boredom of filtering water. I have tried to imagine if the sound would scare away a polar bear, but I can’t really imagine it. Polar bears are so curious, and I think they know they’re strong! Anyways, the bear never made it into the station area, and hasn’t come back.

Most of the planned sampling is done, and so now we have some time to organize things a bit better and take it easy. Yesterday evening we played poker and for me it was one of the first times I could really feel we all were relaxed. It can be hard to relax at the station, there is always something to do. It has happened a few times that Henry and I just left the station to have some time for ourselves in the beautiful area and read books, and that we just fell asleep on the rocks in the sun -taking turns of course, because someone is always watching for bears.

Today is a stormy day. The wind was coming in straight from the sea creating high waves, and Henry woke us up because the boat had gotten a bit loose by the force of the waves and was scraping against the concrete jetty. We ran outside, most without proper clothing, to navigate the boat in a better position. I could do nothing really, just help where needed, but luckily, we got the boat in a better position. Theres always something happening around here…