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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Weekend Randomness: An Interesting Awakening

Anyone looking for an amusing anecdote for the weekend could do a lot worse than talking to Arctic explorer Sebastian Plur Nilssen. The 23 year old was traveling with his companion Ludvig Fjeld as they attempted to become the first duo to ever travel around the Arctic island archipeligo of Svalbard, a region home to 2,700 citizens belonging to the kingdom of Norway.

While this is no mean feet in and of itself it was undoubtedly made just a tad more difficult by the events of one morning just last week where Mr Nilssen woke up to find himself in jaws of the worlds largest land predator, an adult male polar bear. He was subsequently dragged screaming in the jaws of the bear from the tent having tried to grab his shotgun but noticing the bear had managed to bend it in half.

His colleague reached for the group's spare shotgun and aimed it at the bear. However, in his own words he said, "I was about 20 or 25 metres from the bear and it had Sebastian in its mouth, I was very worried I did not want to hit Sebastian as well. That would have been a really bad day for him". While that sentence may just be enough to scoop Mr Fjeld the award for biggest understatement of the year he was responsible for saving his friends life. While the polar bear dropped Mr Nilssen after one shot Fjeld shot three extra bullets into the animal  to make sure he was in fact dead. The strict laws governing the conservation of polar bears states that a polar bear may only be shot at in self defense.

The bear managed to penetrate one of Mr Nilssen's lungs and stopped just short of rupturing one of his major arteries, which would surely have resulted in his death. He was air lifted out of the remote group of islands, to a hospital where he quickly received three hour emergency surgery. He is expected to make a full recovery and was quite upbeat when speaking to reporters saying, I must be one of the only people in the world who can say when people ask me about my scars, 'I got them in a fight with a polar bear'." While that may be true. looking at his injuries I doubt many others would envy his position.

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