Credit for today’s find goes to Andrea of Arhtistic License.
Recently, photographer and naturalist Audun Rikardsen was leading a photography tour of Svalbard, a small, uninhabited group of islands between Norway and the North Pole. Two days’ travel from Norway’s mainland, the fjord of Hornsund, known for its seal and polar bear populations, was their destination.
The group had spotted a group of seals but no polar bears. When dealing with wild animals in barren landscapes, photographers rely heavily upon motion-sensor-triggered cameras to get their photos, so Rikardsen set up his camera by a hole in the ice, hoping to capture a seal as he emerged from the water. The tour group then retreated to their boat to wait.
During the night, a polar bear was spotted approaching the area. Knowing the creatures are fond of lurking by ice holes to catch seals as they pop out of the water, Rikardsen was breathless with hope that his camera would get close ups of the bear as he waited. He got a little more than he bargained for.
As expected, the camera’s motion sensor was activated by the bear’s approach, which drew the animal’s attention. He poked, sniffed, and even licked the camera before knocking it over and batting it into the hole in the ice where it sank 450 feet into the sea. Rikardsen was devastated.
“It was the worst moment in my photography career.”-Audun Rikardsen
But the intrepid photographer couldn’t let it go. A year later, he got permission to bring a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to the spot to try and retrieve the camera. After risking dangers including potential polar bear encounters and thin ice, Rikardsen managed to get the ROV to the spot where the camera was last seen. Down it went, and wonder of wonders, the camera was there! It took a few tries, but eventually, the ROV was able to grab the prize. While the camera was ruined by the salt water, the memory card was miraculously intact, and the amazing images were saved.
To read the whole story and see all the photos, please see the article on National Geographic here.