Last week’s meeting: Eddy Lane: “Svalbard, Kingdom of the Ice Bear”
Eddy started his presentation saying that the images were both his and his wife Pam’s. They had taken a lengthy trip involving three flights to get to Svalbard well inside the Artic Circle. The islands are just 700 miles from the North Pole. There they charted, with eight other photographers, an ice breaker specialising in ‘wild tourism’. Eddy and Pam did two trips, one in June and a more extensive one in September.
The people of Svalbard have learned to live with polar bears and Eddy had shots of parents taking their children to kindergarten. A normal family scene except one mother was nonchalantly accompanying her child while having a rifle slung over her back.
The icebreaker had a number of ‘Zodiac’ rigid-hulled inflatable boats so that the photographers could get close to the shore. One for Canon users and the other for Nikon users, the crew must have known that there would be trouble if the two tribes ever mixed.
There were lots of excellent shots of Svalbard’s ice cliffs, sea birds, walruses, polar bears, icebergs, with fascinating explanations about them.
Walruses were not only hunted for their tusks and fur but also for the content of their stomachs – clams. They feed on clams and ‘to find clams, walruses dive to shallow sea floors and search with their sensitive vibrissae (whiskers). Once food is found, walruses seal their lips to the clam’s shell and quickly withdraw their tongues back into their mouths. This creates a vacuum, sucking the meat out of the shell.’
The star of the show was of course the polar bear. Eddy and Pam had great shots and stories of polar bears – a mother with two cubs in tow, an orphan cub managing to survive, fighting off larger bears to get food from the carcass of a Fin whale, and various shots of adult polar bears being magnificent on the polar ice.
He had an alarming video of a polar bear pushing its head through one of the ship’s port hole to get a lick of some peanut butter placed on the port hole’s opened window – funny, cute but scary. Do not do this at home.
He ended his talk with a couple of audio-visual shorts set to music played on a cello by a family friend.
An excellent presentation and if you want to follow in Eddy and Pam’s footsteps you’re looking at an heavy fee. They spent £40,000 for these trips of a lifetime.