A small meter of ice


What is happening before a Polar Bear sketch ? Well, a lot of time watching. From the boat, we spend hours, days, alone or in teams spotting the white.

The white ? Big mistake. Pretty much nothing is white up there, and definitely not the snow. It is a blend of blues and greys, with an infinite variety of green, turquoise, purple, yellow and brown. Seaice is a horizontal but non-uniform landscape. When ice floes bump into one another, it creates reliefs of a few meters and in other places open up deep blue almost black pools. And we go throught every detail of this landscape, looking for a small non-white spot as one would think when we talk about white bear, but a cream colored spot. Polar bear is cream colored yes.

So there are all the false hopes, when a piece of ice is tinted with yellow by micro-algae, or when moving ice or mirages, give the illusion of an animal moving in the distance. And then sometimes, we run out of alternatives, we know we have a good candidate miles away. We reorientate the boat, slowly. We approach carefully. « Darn ! I don’t see it anymore ! » We wait patiently and start questioning ourselves. The perspective changes as the boat moves forward and we do everything we can to keep track of the ice floe where we spotted our potential bear. And suddenly the confirmation: a head stands for a few seconds, cream spot in a blue and grey landscape. There he is. We keep our distance, we observe the behavior carefully to avoid any disturbance, but already the scene is beautiful, fantastic.

A bear in the middle of the ocean, living on a metre thick ice on the surface of several hundred meters deep freezing water. When you take a step back and you fully realize what you have in front of your eyes and where you are standing, it’s staggering. This small meter of ice makes all the difference between life and death for this bear, between diversity and poverty in this ecosystem, between wonderment and sadness.

Searching in the vastness
Aerial seaice
Watercolor from the bridge of the ship: another creme colored spot on ice
Sketching the sea ice