By Hannah Stevens @Hannahshewans

A CURIOUS polar bear pokes a hovering drone with her mighty paw on the isolated Somerset Island

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Videographer / director: Patrick Dykstra
Producer: Hannah Stevens, Ruby Coote
Editor: Joshua Douglas

Wildlife filmmaker Patrick Dykstra was filming beluga whales on Somerset Island when the polar bears arrived

Wildlife filmmaker Patrick Dykstra was filming on Somerset Island, in a remote part of Nunavut, Canada, when he spotted a polar bear and her two cubs.

Collecting his drone camera, he dashed across the terrain to see if he could capture them on film.

Patrick said: “We took a very cautious and respectful approach with the bears and launched the drone from about one thousand feet away so as not to scare them.

“As the drone approached, the young bears showed curiosity towards it, but the mother was a bit sceptical at first.

Nansen Weber, a local expert and polar bear photographer, spotted the bears

“I think had the young bears not been curious, the mother would not have interacted with it at all.

“However, the curiosity of the youngsters seemed to make the mother hang around and then eventually become interested herself.”

Launching the drone from 1000 ft away did not guarantee his safety though, as the island offered little vegetation or cover, leaving him exposed to the polar bears.

Careful not to spook the bears, Patrick launched the drone from 1000 feet away

The bears did spot Patrick and his colleague, but thankfully they were too transfixed by the drone to bother with two men sat quietly in the distance.

As the polar bear reared up on her hind legs to get a closer look at the buzzing drone, Patrick feared he might have to say farewell to his camera.

He said: “I was pretty curious to see if the bear might want to crush the drone. I thought that would have been a pretty interesting result!

A polar bear's incredible sense of smell allows it to track seals from almost a kilometre away

“But I was careful to keep the propellers higher than the bear at all times and only let her come near the camera, both for the safety of the drone and the bear.”

While they wait for the oceans to freeze so they can return to their winter hunting grounds, polar bears spend the summer months roaming the Northwest Passage, but they are not always so easy to spot.

The majestic animals range across the Arctic ocean, parts of Canada, Alaska, Russia, Greenland and Svarlbard in Norway

The Dubai-based photographer said: “We spent several days out looking for bears, some days working harder than others to find them.

“However, this family did not require any tracking and in fact showed up quite close to where we were filming beluga whales. I’d say they found us more than we found them!”

Despite having more than enough power, the mama bear did not knock the drone out of the sky, instead choosing to simply swot at it.

Under the pure white fur, polar bears have black skin and a thick layer of fat

Patrick continued: “The bear was clearly not trying to be malicious with the drone or she would have simply smashed it with her paw.

“She seem to instead be curious about it. I’m sure it is the first drone that she had ever countered, so her curiosity was not surprising.

Polar bears hunt seals - their many prey - by waiting for them at their breathing holes in the ice

“Rather than be aggressive, she just gently nudged the camera a few times in order to understand more about this strange new thing in her world.”

Polar bear cubs remain with their mothers for between two-and-a-half to three years

Deciding that the drone was not an appropriate toy for her cubs, the protective mum hurried her cubs off to delve back into the dry landscape of the iceless island.