Why we go there

Many of the comments on the news articles about the Polar Bear being shot say things about humans having to stay away from areas with Polar Bears. While I agree that, despite all precautions that we take as mentioned in my previous post, the only way to avoid any Polar Bear encounters potentially leading to a bear getting shot, is to not go to these places, I still think that tourism in the Arctic is a good thing.

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Bearded Seal and expedition cruise ship

For this, I can best refer to what one of my passengers said during the round of thank yous at the end of the last trip. She was thanking me for keeping them safe, bringing them ashore at all these beautiful places and telling all the stories I did. But what she thanked me most for, was to share my passion for these places and to show not only its beauty but also the fragility. This had made a big impression on all of them and would be the take-home message from the trip. At home, they would think about this, and they would also tell this story to others.

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Polar Bear and Ivory Gulls on an iceberg

These words touched me deeply as this is precisely what I try to do. If we didn’t bring people to these places, it would be much more challenging to create support for the conservation of these extraordinary, but also very fragile environments. As many of the people put it, when we see them again several years later, visiting either of the Polar regions is literally a life-changing experience. Of course, if this would lead to a large number of bears being shot, the benefits will not outweigh the downsides. But with the very rare occasions, it happens at the moment, where any bear shot is one too many of course, I think the balance tips to the positive side, even for the bears.

 

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

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