Polar Bear Floating on Iceberg in 1885
Polar Bear Spotted in Middle of Atlantic Floating on Iceberg in 1885
mmigrants to America aboard the ship Wisconsin were treated to the sight of a polar bear in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean as it floated by on an iceberg. Apparently this was a common sight in the late 1800s.
Passengers Document the Sight of Huge Icebergs on Ocean Crossing
"The attention of all on board was attracted by a large iceberg. . ."
The S.S. Wisconsin sailed from Liverpool, England on May 16, 1885 with passengers from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Holland and England, including my great grandmother, Elizabeth Doxey. They arrived in New York Harbor on May 27, 1885.
On the morning of the 23rd of May, the following was reported by N. M. Hodges:
Soon after breakfast, on the morning of the 23rd, the attention of all on board was attracted by a large iceberg lying a few miles distant, and a little to the right of the direction in which the ship was sailing. After speeding on our way for about an hour we arrived within about three quarters of a mile of it. This, what may be appropriately termed, icicle of the north was estimated to be about 70 feet high above the surface of the water and 200 feet long; and some idea of its magnitude may be formed when it is known that only one-sixth of the whole was visible to us. During the day we passed thirty or forty other icebergs, ranging in size from bodies measuring only a few feet above the surface, to huge bodies even larger than the one above described. Captain Bentley said that he never had witnessed so grand and magnificent a scene on the water before. He had seen icebergs quite as large or larger, but not when the atmosphere was so clear as on this occasion.
Passenger Percy Groom Writes About Polar Bears on Icebergs
"One large pile of ice had as a passenger a polar bear. . ."
One observant passenger named Percy Groom faithfully recorded the events of the memorable crossing. He left a journal for his posterity:
We started across the mighty deep. The old ship was a rather rickety tub and it was in the habit of twisting, yawning, squeaking and groaning as it made its way against the buffeting of the waves.
The trip was quite exciting seeing whales, porpoises and other marine animals and birds. It is strange how long a flock of seagulls will follow a ship and keep up with it without resting a spell. Some thirty large icebergs were seen on the way as May is a good time to cross if one wants to see these dull, silent, gray piles of arctic glaciers as they majestically float down from Greenland and eventually melt in the Gulf Stream.
One large pile of ice had as a passenger a polar bear. This boy was no doubt beyond his depths, as when the iceberg melted, which it surely would do, then the bear would be without a footing and while very clever in water, they have to come up for breathing, and eventually the poor bear would become a victim of its own thoughtlessness.
One large pile of ice had as a passenger a polar bear.
The Majestic Polar Bear
Polar Bears in History
A Little More Research Found This Report from an 1885 Scientific Journal
More about icebergs floating in the Atlantic in 1885
"The Recent Danish Explorations in Greenland and their Significance as to Arctic Science in General." By H. Rink
Abstract of the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 22, No. 120, Part IV (Oct. 1885)pp. 280-296. Whole article contains 17 pages.
(Read before the American Philosophical Society, March 20, 1885.)
No country appears to be better qualified to throw light on the problems of polar geography in general than Greenland. Unto its southern point, though reaching the latitude of Southern Norway, it thoroughly maintains an arctic nature. Its northern extremity has not as yet been explored; here it disappears in regions which hitherto have braved the efforts of the boldest discoverers. This extent from south to north offers a peculiarly favorable opportunity for establishing meteorological stations and for observing how organic life on the terra firma gradually succombs to the severity of the climate. Here also human inhabitants in their struggle for existence have advanced further towards the pole, the utmost limit of their abodes not being as yet pointed out with certainty. Moreover the mountains of the Greenland coast contain fossil ramains important for illustrating the conditions of the Arctic regions during an earlier geological epoch. Its interior can be considered as not yet visited by travelers, but nevertheless we know about it that in its central regions those masses of snow accumulate which, converted into ice as floating icebergs, are spread over the north western Atlantic, stragglers even reaching the latitude of Spain.
Polar Bear Bookends
Icebergs Floating as Far South as Spain in 1885
". . .converted into ice as floating icebergs, are spread over the north western Atlantic, stragglers even reaching the latitude of Spain."