A Scottish filmmaker spent three seasons following a polar bear family in the wilds of the Svalbard Islands in the Arctic, but he never dreamed that this might happen. “The idea was to get close to polar bears and do it safely,” Gordon Buchanan told “BBC Breakfast.” “But because they are a dangerous animal, they do see us on occasion as food. I just wanted to be on the ice, by myself, and have a close encounter.” As it turned out, the encounter was a bit closer than he had hoped–terrifyingly close. Watch:
“Unfortunately, it ignores the seal’s breathing hole and heads straight for me,” Buchanan said as he narrated the film that will be part of the BBC series “The Polar Bear Family & Me” scheduled to begin Monday.
Inside the bear-proof snowmobile, Buchanan started to become a little bit panicky.
“She’s coming closer and closer, oh my God,” he said while videotaping the close encounter. “She’s enormous…It’s really why I’ve come here, to see these animals, to get to understand them, see them up close.”
He continued his narration: “A polar bear’s nose is a thousand times more powerful than mine. It’s gathering information before it approaches, like it would when stalking a seal. My scent is strongest at the weakest point–the door.”
Buchanan appears to be checking the locks on the door to ensure it won’t come open. At one point, the polar bear’s nose poked through an opening at the bottom of the door. He could’ve touched it.
“It was one of the most terrifying things that I’ve ever done and I did it intentionally, and I had to speak louder because my heart–I could hear my own heart, and they could hear it on the camera,” Buchanan told “BBC Breakfast.” “Yeah, it was really scary.”
Buchanan said the camera crew, which was shooting with a long-range lens from 273 yards away, was basically laughing at him.
“It was a strange mixture of terror and comedy because it just felt like a monumentally stupid thing to do,” he said. “But it was incredible.”
And fortunately, he lived to tell about it.
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