Dr Chris and Dr Xand are in Greenland to learn about glaciers and icebergs. Neptune's skipper Ragi has a difficult time docking at the iceberg.
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BOTH: We are Dr Chris and Dr Xand.
We're tracking down the most awesome...
BOTH: ..and epic things in the universe!
BOTH: Come with us
and discover unbelievable things that will blow your mind!
Blow Your Mind will be bringing you loads of top experts
and scientists to help you find out more about some amazing stuff...
..from the Arctic to elephants, spaceships to sharks,
and this week it's all about ice.
Yes, frozen water.
So, hold on to your brains.
BOTH: Here's what's coming up!
Neptune skipper Ragi has a nightmare docking at the berg.
We confront the biggest, scariest and most awe-inspiring land predator
in the natural world - the polar bear.
And we set foot for the first time on a mega berg.
Chris, a week ago,
if you'd told me I would be desperate to find out more about
icebergs, well, I wouldn't have believed you,
but they are incredibly cool.
-I mean, really, properly, excitingly cool.
-I do know.
And dangerous, like, dangerously cool.
Yeah, I do know, Xander, I'm the one who lived on an iceberg
and I'm telling you all this stuff!
Well, hurry up and tell us some more, then.
Last time, you were on the Neptune
and the captain was just about to attempt to dock the ship
to let you and the team put some scientific kit onto the berg.
It looked pretty dangerous. What happened?
Well, like anything to do with icebergs, it wasn't easy,
but I'll show you. See for yourself.
I had joined a bunch of scientists in Greenland.
Our journey started on a glacier, but now we were stalking an iceberg,
trying to climb aboard to continue our icy experiments.
Today's team of intrepid explorers and scientists are...
..Chris Packham, wildlife and nature expert...
..expedition doctor and all-round brave guy, me...
Dr Helen Czerski, physicist and oceanographer...
..Andy Torbet, extreme explorer and glacial diver...
..Doug Allan, polar cameraman and glacial diver...
..Peter Wadhams, ocean physicist and ice expert...
..Ragi Elson, Arctic sailor and the ship's captain.
Ragi is really experienced in the seas of the Arctic.
Because of that, he was incredibly cautious of landing the team
on an iceberg that was actually moving.
You should always take the worst scenario and work from that.
Be prepared for the worst.
Ships the size of Neptune can be badly damaged by the super-hard ice
of a berg, which is why Ragi was super cautious
and took things very, very slowly.
Ragi was still taking it slowly as he guided the Neptune alongside the ice.
It's impossible to predict how a moving berg will behave.
Collisions are hard to avoid.
And there was another unexpected problem.
The team had discovered a huge ledge of ice jutting out
just beneath the water.
This is known as an ice ram, and it was right under the ship.
There's several hundred thousand tonnes of ice down there
and we're on top of it.
If a crack opened and it broke off,
the buoyancy would bring the whole thing up above sea level
and we would be tipped over one way or the other.
It looks like a nice, neat place to moor,
but actually it's quite dangerous.
That's another reason why Ragi was
so keen not to make contact with the berg.
That's the second time the Neptune had slammed into the berg.
That was enough for Ragi.
He insisted on searching for a safer landing site.
Wowee. That looks really tricky, Chris.
The skipper has so much to think about when he's docking that ship.
It's scary to think it would just be tossed in the air
if a part of that berg rolled.
Yes, if it rolls, the force that would be released is massive,
easily enough to tumble our little ship.
-So the skipper is absolutely right be careful.
-Yeah, for sure.
He's got all of our lives in his hands.
I didn't realise when you went on this expedition
-it would be so dangerous.
-Well, you know, I'm very brave,
so I was fine, which is a good thing, because ice isn't the only danger.
We were about to come very close
to one of the most terrifying other dangers -
much to Chris Packham's delight. Check this out!
As skipper Ragi scoured the berg for a new docking place,
we soon discovered that we were not the only tourists in the area.
-There's a polar bear swimming, what, 50 metres off the ship?
And he's just hanging out.
This is all my Christmases come at once. A polar bear.
I really, really, really hoped to see one,
but I never thought we would.
But then, you know, these are marine mammals.
They can cover great distances in the sea,
and they frequently do, swimming between the ice floes.
How exciting, though, honestly.
Polar bears hunt on sea ice for most of the year, but it was summer,
so most of the sea ice had melted,
and the team's berg was the only ice left in the area.
This bear wasn't alone.
There was another bear up on the berg.
A polar bear on our iceberg. Hold on, hold on.
Oh, I don't believe it. I really don't.
There's actually another bear on the ice.
Through my binoculars, it's a little speck.
So, in the space of just half an hour, we've seen three polar bears.
One in the water off the ice berg,
one here, happy, smiling,
and about 500 metres over there is a third bear on our iceberg.
It is bear-tastic.
Look at him. He's just lovely. Lovely, lovely bear.
Despite the team's excitement,
these predators were a real problem for the science team.
Bears are really curious,
and capable of attacking anything or anyone that enters their territory.
The intention is to go on that iceberg, but three bears
in 15 minutes, that adds a bit of excitement to the whole thing.
I can see why everyone was so excited.
I've only ever seen polar bears in zoos
and they're pretty impressive there.
It must be mind-blowing to see them in the wild.
Yes, wild is the right word, because that is what you have to
remember all the time - they are wild, and they're hunters.
A male bear can get up to ten feet tall standing up,
and they can weigh up to 1,000 kilos.
And they just see other animals and humans as food.
So, you can see why we had to be very, very careful.
The next day we saw even more. Take a look.
In a single day, we saw five more bears.
That's eight altogether.
Our safety officer called an emergency meeting.
There are going to be a few simple rules here
that I think all of us can just get into our minds early on.
Number one, nobody is wandering off the ship on their own.
Number two, you've got to make sure there are watchers out.
Number three, you're going to need some equipment with you to
make sure that you can fend off the bear if he comes too close.
Having seen bears stalking seals on ice similar to this,
they are very clever.
They will see a seal from a long way away and they will take
advantage of the dips and hollows to stay out of sight.
Just try to be super bear aware.
If suddenly you find one very close,
then drop a piece of clothing on the ice.
Put a pair of dirty socks in your pocket.
Something nice and smelly, so you've got a couple of things to drop.
They will buy you vital seconds.
The Inuit have a great saying,
which says it's not the bear you can see that's going to get you.
So, it's the one you can't see that will get you.
Good advice about the socks. Xand? Xand?
I was just taking Chris Packham's advice.
I never would have thought a bear would be interested in my socks.
-Xand, there aren't any bears around here.
-That's cos I've got my socks.
-They'll keep anything away.
Anyway, we did eventually make it onto the ice, despite the bears.
The next morning, we found a mooring spot.
Ragi had found what he thought was an ideal place for the Neptune
to dock, but the bear risk called for additional safety measures.
Here is the rifle.
He would be on guard.
He's a Greenlander, and used to living with the threat of bears.
Let's hope we don't have to use it.
The man leading the shore party was Andy Torbet.
About to get the gangway across to the iceberg,
and take those first few steps.
We'll recce sites that we can get these big ship anchors in.
The point of all this, is to get the scientists on there safely
so we can do the science.
That's why we need crampons.
-First on the iceberg! How does it feel?
This is where the adventure properly starts.
After Andy slipped, the rest of the crew went more carefully.
This is how you imagine big lumps of ice.
-Feel that on the top, feel it on the top.
-It's just like marble, isn't it?
There's nothing, there's no give in that.
'They needed ice that was hard and stable to attach the ropes to.'
-That's fine, go for there.
-'So, the drilling got under way.
'But before too long, they had company.'
He does seem to be moving a little bit towards the left, doesn't he?
-He is, he's walking left.
Oh, eyes on! He's just there.
-Here he is. Look.
-He's very close.
-Very close to us.
-Could you give us an update on the situation?
He's still moving left to right.
Very good, thank you.
'As long as the bear kept its distance, the team could carry on.'
Yep, through, through.
Couple more. One more.
First step on the iceberg.
First person to fall over on the iceberg.
Yes, I think... Yeah.
A rather unceremonious first step for man, a giant leap for mankind.
The bears certainly made the team work quickly.
It took two days to find a safe place to dock,
but only an hour to actually moor.
For the moment, the bears had gone
and the scientists could get onto the ice.
Wow, that is absolutely fascinating stuff.
What did it feel like when you touched it?
I mean, it looks like it would be snowy and soft,
but I heard Helen say it was like marble.
It was like marble, absolutely solid, hard ice.
And it was brilliant the scientists made it onto the ice,
but there was this constant fear of polar bears.
They look so cute, though, don't they?
Yeah, but you have to keep reminding yourself they're potentially very
dangerous - they are one of the top predators on the planet.
That is mega-scary. I did like Andy's little routine
when he stepped on the ice for the first time.
-Yeah, that was pretty funny.
-Can we see it again?
-No, it's not fair, he slipped.
-Come on, you're never fair.
-Show it again.
-All right, run the VT!
OK, Andy, let's go then.
-That was really good. Can we just see it once more?
-OK, here goes.
-Poor old Andy. Gets me every time.
But seriously, it did take us all by surprise just how hard
-and slippy the ice was.
-It took you by surprise that ice was slippy?
Anyway, it's time for us to go,
-but there's lots more from the mega berg to come.
Well, looking underwater, for starters.
It's incredible down there,
and Chris gets help from the divers to examine
some amazing creatures that light up all by themselves.
But that's just a couple of the many things that will blow your mind!
Dr Chris and Dr Xand are with the top experts on the planet to show you more things that will blow your mind. In this episode, Neptune's skipper Ragi has a difficult time docking at the iceberg. Also, much to Chris Packham's delight, we encounter the biggest, scariest, most awe-inspiring land predator in the natural world - the polar bear. Explorer Andy Torbet is first to set foot on the mega-berg, with surprising consequences!