“… this berg seems to be home to a particularly thriving population of polar bears, who regularly come as close to the ship as they dare, sniff at us and wonder what we’re up to. But we have to pay keen attention to them, of course, as they can be – if we allow them the opportunity – to be quite dangerous”.
Is it just me, or is “quite dangerous” just a little bit of an understatement? These beasts are monstrous, ravening predators and don’t seem to be getting any scarcer.
Operation Iceberg, by the way, is a 5-week scientific mission to discover more about the life and death of icebergs, and later in the report, Chris Packham goes on to say that one reason for finding out as much as we can is that “we’re living at a time when there seem to be more icebergs breaking off the glaciers here than ever before.”
Of course, just over a century ago, an iceberg famously collided with R.M.S. Titanic and sent her to the bottom of the North Atlantic. Here is an article from the New York Times of May 5th 1912, which describes conditions at the time (h/t Larry Elkin in this article):
An unprecedentedly warm Winter in the entire arctic is believed to be the cause of the vast number of icebergs adrift in the North Atlantic Ocean during the present season and for the low latitudes which many of them have reached. Navigators and scientists of the Hydrographic Office and the Revenue Cutter Service in Washington have theories tending to prove that an unusually heavy snowfall in Greenland, where all icebergs are formed, in the Winter of 1910-11 was followed by an unusually hot Summer, and by a very mild Winter in 1911-12, these conditions resulting in the creation of an enormously large crop of icebergs from the West Greenland glaciers, and of floe, or field ice. Unusual northerly and northwesterly winds have blown these bergs far to the southward.
It all begins to sound oddly familiar.