A View Of The Arctic

Sep 25, 2014
Originally published on September 25, 2014 2:00 pm

"Come see!"

That's the vocal code in our house, when one of us wants to summon another to show off a small treasure: the flash of a red fox streaking our backyard; a pink-inflamed cloud as sunset approaches; a snake, sinuous and fine, curving black against the green of high-summer grass.

Today I send out a "Come see!" to all of you. Seize eight minutes from your day. Revel in the beauty of Arctic sea ice, its dynamic nature, its sights and sounds, and the sights and sounds, too, of the wildlife who live on or near it — including guillemots (birds), Arctic foxes, a polar bear, tusked walruses.

We view these sights thanks to Peter Cox, a photographer who is in love with the Arctic. In July 2014, he, together with Kevin Raber and Morten Jorgensen, took students of photography to the Svalbard archipelago in the high Arctic for workshops. In video form, he offers the rest of us a stunning window onto an otherworldly landscape.

Cox details the excursion on his blog — and if it's place names and descriptions you want, they're all there.

In addition to the fabulous ice, my favorite part of the video is the walrus encounter (starting at about 6:50). On his blog, Cox writes this:

"Our next destination was Wahlbergøya, and walrus. These are some charismatic (if ever-so-slightly flatulent) animals, and we were rewarded with about 30 large males hauled out in a heap on the beach. We had a great backdrop of ice floes moving swiftly around the point behind the animals. Over several hours, the walrus allowed us to share their space. There was coughing, snoring, farting, belching and a lot of itching and scratching going on — as well as the odd stabbing of the neighbour, as well as a slow migration to the water by one or two."

Many of us are intensely focused this week, the week of the U.N. Climate Summit, on anthropogenic climate change and what action is necessary to take regarding carbon emissions, ice melt and the impact of climate change on wildlife populations in the Arctic and everywhere else.

In the midst of all the science, policymaking, planning and worry, Cox's visual imagery of and around the ice offers a few moments of rest and reinvigoration.


Barbara's most recent book on animals was released in paperback in April. You can keep up with what she is thinking on Twitter: @bjkingape

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