A crew member leading cruise guests from Hapag Lloyd Cruises‘ MS Bremen was injured by a bear during a cruise excursion north of Norway yesterday, according to many news accounts.
The polar bear attacked the cruise employee, who was acting as a “polar bear guard,” on Saturday July 28, 2018 during a cruise excursion by the German cruise line into an Arctic archipelago. The polar bear was then shot dead by another employee, according to a representative of Hapag Lloyd.
The Joint Rescue Coordination for Northern Norway tweeted that the attack occurred when the cruise tourists from the MS Bremen cruise ship landed on northern island of the Svalbard archipelago , which is between Norway and the North Pole – a remote area known for glaciers, reindeer and polar bears.
En person er skadet av isbjørn på Sjuøyane, nord for Svalbard. Hendelsen skjedde i forbindelse med at turister gikk i land på en av øyene fra et cruisefartøy. Tilstanden til den skadde skal være stabil. Isbjørnen ble skutt og drept. Redningshelikopter er sendt fra Longyearbyen.
— HRS Nord-Norge (@HRSNordNorge) July 28, 2018
The majority of people reacted on Twitter saying that that it is irresponsible to sell excursions to cruise tourists into the natural habitat of such remote locations. Although they are shy and prefer to avoid confrontations with humans, bears are still expected to react aggressively when protecting their cubs and/or food sources.
The polar bear was shot dead “in an act of self-defense” by the second guard, according to the cruise line spokeswoman.
The Norwegian rescue helicopter flew the injured crew member by helicopter to the town of Longyearbyen. The cruise employee’s injuries are reportedly not life-threatening.
There initially was confusion in the news accounts whether a cruise employee or a cruise guest was injured.
Cruise ships traveling in this region reportedly are obliged to have polar bear guards on board if they offer excursion tours into the archipelago for their guests. according to CBS News.
Arctic tourism to the region reportedly has risen recently; 18 cruise ships will be docking at the Arctic port of Longyearbyen in the next week alone.
I think British celebrity Ricky Gervais summed best when he tweeted:
"Let's get too close to a polar bear in its natural environment and then kill it if it gets too close". Morons. https://t.co/FEPt0sYOtF
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) July 29, 2018
Original information via the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.