The Polar Bear and the Navy – Greenpeace -Jiri Rezac



Last night we had an encounter with a young Polar Bear in the sea ice off the Canadian coast. It was feasting on a seal carcass as we sailed past, closely followed by a Danish Navy patrol ship that has been on our tail since 18 Greenpeace activists boaded the Cairn Energy drill rig Leiv Eiriksson a few days ago.

As we moved forwards, the polar bear and the navy ship’s paths aligned, making for some pretty amazing pictures. Just as the navy ship appeared to be on a collision course with the animal, Pete Bouquet, our captain on the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise called the Danish ship to ‘mind the polar bear’. They responded by thanking him and altering course, thus avoiding a disturbing encounter with the bear.

I was pretty excited by this: these images bring together two opposing symbols: the polar bear for climate change, and the navy ship representing the military-industrial complex that is encroaching on the Arctic. I do hope these will become iconic, as I feel that these images have a symbolic, timeless value in illustrating the conflict between modern civilisation and nature.

The following day ……Cue young polar bear who strolled up to our ship yesterday evening, a day after we first encountered him a few miles back in the ice. He sniffed and hung around for a bit, hoping to scavenge something edible – whether that would be some scraps or a full-sized human, we’ll probably never know. All the while the bear was calm, quiet, even slow in his movements but with a clearly discernible purpose to feed himself. After about half an hour the whole thing started to feel more like a portrait session: the bear was pacing up and down in front of our ship before finally getting bored and strolling into the distance on the ice. By that point, I had taken literally hundreds of frames, and here’s a small selection of my favourites.

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