My first day in Churchill has been filled with so many incredible experiences that I don't even know how to start relating all of them. So many notable and memorable things have occurred already, and we haven't even headed out on Buggy One yet!
Of course, one of my highlights has to revolve around the mighty polar bear. I saw my first polar bears 'in the wild' today, but not the way I wanted to see them. The polar bears are gathering along the shore of Hudson Bay awaiting the arrival of the sea ice, where they'll spend the winter months hunting seals.
Unfortunately, freeze-up hasn't even begun yet this year, which is a real cause for concern! The ice is forming later in the fall and melting faster in the spring, which is having a real impact on polar bear populations. As the bears wait for the ice to form, they're forced to eat anything they can scrounge up. We stumbled upon about a dozen polar bears that have discovered piles of fermenting grain that they've turned to for sustenance.
Another highlight of my first day here was finding out more about D20, otherwise known as 'The Polar Bear Jail'. This facility has the capacity to accommodate up to 28 polar bears in holding cells until they can be safely released onto the sea ice. Polar bears that become 'problematic' within the town of Churchill can either be airlifted to D20 or captured in the bear traps you see below and transferred to the jail, where they typically spend at least 30 days before being set free.
I have learned so much throughout the day by spending time with so many people who are very knowledgeable about this unique location. They drove me around, walked along with me & made sure that I saw all of the essential sights within the town of Churchill, including the Eskimo Museum - what a collection of Inuit artifacts and artwork!
But the best part of my day has been getting to know all of the people who I'm sharing this adventure with - I feel so fortunate to be working alongside such a dedicated team for the next several days! Everyone involved with Polar Bears International is fantastic, and they've all been so warm & welcoming. From the accommodations they're providing us with to the dinner and presentation that they hosted tonight for Manitoba Conservation officials, they know how to take care of business by balancing it with the perfect mix of purpose and pleasure :-)
Time to turn the lights out on Day 1, as we climb aboard Buggy One tomorrow morning for the next phase of this adventure...
Don't forget to visit the 'Photos' page for a few more magical moments that were captured today :-)