4/17/2012 2:48:38 PM
My eyes scan the sea ice, searching for movement. Every ice formation looks as if it could be a polar bear. The wind blows and I'm so anxious about the possibility of seeing a bear that my mind plays tricks on me—and I think the ice is a bear. However, we don't sight any bears on the ice today.
Today is our last day and our last search for abandoned polar bear dens. We're heading out to Cottle Island, a barrier island off the coast of Prudhoe Bay. Kavik and Grace search the entire island but give us no positive sign of a den.
We dig a snow pit to get an understanding of the snow layers comprising the entire winter's snowpack. It is 1.5 meters deep and I feel quite warm after digging the pit.
We leave Cottle Island and travel to a gravel site that in past years have denned polar bears. Polar Bears International and a team from Brigham Young University have set up cameras here hoping to catch the bears and cubs emerging. We scan the drifts for any signs of disturbance in the snow, tracks or other possible indication of den emergence. Today, there are none. If in fact there is a bear here, it is getting late in the year for an emergence. Perhaps, the long winter has kept the family in their den longer. Time will tell, but today the secrets are still not revealed.
Photos copyright April Cheuvront.