Close encounters of the Polar kind
posted Friday, February 26, 2016 at 2:31 PM EDT
In 2014, while working on Franz Josef Land, the world's most northern archipelago, National Geographic photographer Cory Richards spent over a month trying to capture a great image of a polar bear. This was Cory's first experience working with polar bears in their natural habitat and he wanted to show the animal up close.
Getting up close and personal with a polar bear is a dangerous proposition, so Cory opted to set up a camera and hope that the bear came over to it. Observing a polar bear on the beach from the safety of their boat, Cory thought it was a good opportunity to go ashore to set up his gear.
Cory was worried while setting up the camera, but the bear was not coming closer. He said of the experience, "As I get out of the boat, I'm thinking, 'First of all, this is stupid. There have been fatal attacks on these islands. People have lost their lives here. I'm willfully jumping onto the beach, with a very hungry bear…I'm now food…"
The bear was not interested in the team until a drone was launched. Once the drone was in the air, the bear started charging down the beach. National Geographic published a video of this event yesterday, which you can see below.
Fortunately, not only was Cory able to get back to the boat in one piece, but the bear immediately went up to the equipment he had been able to set up. Cory left Franz Josef Land with not only his life, but with the images he had hoped to capture. Polar bears can sprint 25 miles per hour and weigh well over 1,000 pounds. Imagine that running toward you, covering nearly 40 feet per second.
Cory went to Franz Josef Land as part of National Geographic's Pristine Seas expedition, which you can read more about here.
To see more of Cory Richards' work, visit his website.