The ship continued to sail northwards towards the Pole, to the edge of the Arctic ice pack, the frozen ocean, reaching much further than it had even as little as a year ago.
The Arctic has changed. Unquestionably. The North West passage is now easily navigated. The sea ice is retreating. There is ocean where once there was ice. A recent report (September 2016)* predicts that ice-free Arctic summers are imminent.
On this trip, we were in the company of an expedition team made up of experts from around the world. Geologists, botanists, biologists, Arctic historians, ornithologists, naturalists, marine mammal scientists and more. All were agreed that this is catastrophic news for us all, and none more so than for polar bears, who depend on the Arctic ice for their very survival.
Bears are returning to areas where the ice once was but is no longer, are travelling longer and longer distances in search of food, are malnourished and in some cases starving to death.
We were so lucky on this trip to spot polar bears, during the day, in the night (still visible in this land of 24 hour daylight), on the ice, in the water, bears tucking into a recent kill, solitary bears and mothers with cubs. Eight in total, thankfully all clearly well fed and healthy.
Sometimes the camera was left to one side and the sight of these magnificent animals was just simply enjoyed, wept over and recorded in memory.
*'A Farewell To Ice' by Peter Wadhams.