Polar bears are struggling to adapt as climate change heats up the Arctic, since the loss of sea ice makes it harder and harder to hunt seals. But at the same time, the melting ice is also drawing in more humans — including scientists, journalists, tourists and oilmen — who at times must seem to be offering themselves as replacement prey.
One mother polar bear recently tried to oblige, launching a 40-minute assault on a Scottish cameraman that was thwarted only by a small safety pod dubbed "the ice cube." The cameraman, BBC contributor Gordon Buchanan, remained relatively calm throughout the encounter, and even managed to capture it on film.
"Being this close, I have an appreciation for what this animal is," he said as the bear scratched and pounded on the glass just inches away. "It is one of the most powerful animals on the planet, one of the most intimidating animals on the planet — and one of the few animals that actually see us as food."
Buchanan was on the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard to shoot footage for a three-part BBC documentary titled "The Polar Bear Family and Me," which debuts in the U.K. tonight on BBC Two. Check out a clip from Buchanan's harrowing ordeal below:
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