Arctic Kingdom: Life at the Edge

Genre: Documentary
Actors: James Coburn
52 min

Arctic Kingdom:
Life At the Edge

In the far northern reaches

of planet Earth

lies an alien sea of ice

its waves frozen in time

in darkness, in uncompromising cold

It's winter on the Arctic Ocean

But a great power is returning to

conquer this frozen sea

The sun's rays touch the ice

and like a living thing

it responds

As the ice surrenders to

the rising sun

it becomes a world in motion

a shifting stage full of danger

and drama

Where creatures are trapped

between moving sheets

Stranded on the frozen waters

Caught in the struggle to live in one

of the harshest places on earth

And where the ice meets the open sea

the sun awakens a world of strange

and glorious life

This is the Arctic under the sun

a short

brilliant season of survival a miracle

and a resurrection at the edge

of the ice

After three months of

winter's hard darkness

the first light of spring spreads a glow

across the ice It's dawn in the Arctic

in the season of eternal sun

A lone predator stalks the ice

in the early light

A polar bear is on the prowl

in different to the killing cold

Even in temperatures of fifty below

he doesn't hibernate

The bear is the supreme master

of winter on the ice

He can grow to seventeen hundred

pounds of hunting power

but his life depends on

just one creature

The ringed seal takes a quick breath

and returns to his world below

the ice

He, too, has endured all winter

just beneath the feet of his

mortal enemy

It's April. A female is also

on the ice

bringing her cubs out hunting

for the first time

They were born four long months ago

and since then, their mother's

had nothing to eat

Her sense of smell is so keen

that she can detect her prey

through several feet of snow

and half a mile away

She seeks out ridges

where drifting snow

covers the breathing hole of

a ringed seal

Inside this protective snow cap

a seal has dug al lair

She catches his scent

The seal rests but only sleeps

a few seconds at a time

its sharp hearing tuned to danger

A tense contest of the senses begins

Even the top predator on the ice

misses 19 times out of 20

And yet, the mother bear

will need to kill

at least two seals a week to keep

her cubs alive

The seal is safe for the moment

but each new trip to the surface

to breathe could end in another ambush

It's an oversized game of cat

and mouse

The bear eats mostly the blubber

licking bits of fat from the snow

A stealthy white shadow has been

following the bear

An Arctic fox

For days he has been tracking

the great hunter

crossing miles of ice in hopes

of leftovers from a kill

When hunting is good, the bear

leaves a feast behind

The fox finds a morsel and

buries it a precaution

against an unpredictable future

The sun now skims the horizon

and will not set again

for four months

Day by day

it begins to take control of the ice

in the seasonal tug of war

between darkness and light

But for nearly half the year

the far north is angled away

from the sun

and sleeps in the dark shadow

of winter

Left in the deep-freeze of space

the Arctic seas lie covered with

six million square miles of ice

As the year progresses

the planet swings around the sun

Light returns to the top

of the world

With 24-hour sunshine

the polar ice begins to retreat

By spring, the ice edge has receded

to a tangle of islands

in the high Canadian Arctic

and to the entrance of Lancaster Sound

An ice-breaker cuts the first breech

of the year

through six feet of solid ice

It brings goods to and from villages

and mining outposts 500 miles north

of the Arctic Circle

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Janet Hess


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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Arctic Kingdom: Life at the Edge" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 31 Jul 2021. <>.

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