Laguna Beach Magazine

Greg MacGillivray was asleep below deck on a 103-foot icebreaker somewhere off Svalbard, a remote archipelago well north of the Arctic Circle. The ship creaked as he lay there on a summer night, his crew on watch above as the sun shone brightly on the expansive ice field. A new mother polar bear nursed her cubs on a nearby ice floe, unthreatened by the crew’s presence—it was 3:43 in the morning.

With 36 IMAX films under his belt, including two Oscar nominations and countless expeditions all over the world, Greg was used to brutal shooting sched- ules. Still, when you sneak off to nap while working 20-hour days on location, you don’t get up unless it’s important.

A crewmember shouted down the narrow stairwell, “Greg, you probably want to see this.”

A short distance from the bear family, a large, lone male worked through the cracked and crooked ice floes, sniffing the air as he swam, zeroing in on the mother and suckling cubs. The mother was sleeping (which she never did for more than 15 minutes), after a four-mile swim to escape another attack a few hours earlier. That time they had silently slipped into the water with a significant lead on the approaching male, but this time she detected him later.


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