A WINDERMERE explorer narrowly avoided being crushed by an 800lb polar bear when it pounced on his tent while filming in the Arctic.

Paul Rose's terrifying dice with death unfolded as he slept alone on a stony beach on the northern tip of the vast Baffin Island, in the Canadian territory of Nunavut.

Worldwide there are only one to three instances a year of polar bear attacks according to Polar Bears International (PBI), an organisation dedicated to sustaining a future for the animals.

Speaking to the Gazette via satellite phone, Rose told how the clawed-beast came with inches of landing directly on top of him, how he was too afraid to move as they became involved in a tense stand-off and his relief at escaping unhurt.

"I am one of the handful of people who have lived to tell the tale," said the 63-year-old. "Luckily I was not directly underneath where she, or her claws, landed or I don't think I would be alive.

"I have heard stories about people being dragged from their tents and mauled but bears can also be speculative creatures. She may have just seen a funny shape on the ground and decided to investigate."


Dr Tom Smith, a professor of biological sciences at Brigham Young University, Utah, and a scientific advisor to PBI, said: "Any time a bear is that close to you and you escape unscathed you are the definition of lucky, fortunate, blessed and charmed.

"When a bear bats a tent wall, your future is literally in its paws and that’s not a position of negotiation.

"Bears ‘ask’ questions with their paws and jaws by batting tents and biting gear, simply to learn about these novel objects.

"A lot of attacks happen at night. Bears come in to investigate when there is no movement or sound. They are very risk adverse, so they wait until it’s quiet to let their curiosity take over."

Mr Rose, who is in the middle of leading a ‘Pristine Seas’ expedition for National Geographic, admitted he was lucky to survive the encounter with just a sore shoulder sustained when the bear crashed into him in the dead of the night.

"The first thing I knew was when I woke up and couldn't move because it had me pinned down," said Mr Rose, a former vice president of the Royal Geographical Society.

"Instantly I knew it was a polar bear because it was so heavy. There was a lot of pressure on the left side of my head and my shoulder.

"The tent sprang up with loads of broken poles and was ripped to shreds."

He managed to wriggle out from underneath the bear only to find himself staring right at it after carefully opening the zip at the front of the tent to look outside.

"Less than half-a-metre away I saw these two huge beautiful eyes looking straight at me," he said.

Too frightened to blink, Rose and the wild animal stared at each other for around two minutes before it circled his tent for 30 minutes.

The adventurer's first instinct was to fire a flare but he was worried that would only anger the bear.

He was also too scared to shout out to members of his crew in tents nearby.

"I decided to keep very, very quiet afraid it was going to jump and attack me," he said. "It was a very quiet experience given how traumatic and dramatic it was.

"I have had bear encounters before and fired off a flare or a shotgun but because it was so close I just tried to slow my heart rate down and show no fear or panic.

"It then started walking around the tent and every time I tried to put my clothes on it would stop walking and stare again at the tent.

"After about 30 minutes I heard it go away and I was able to get dressed and repair my tent."

Mr Rose said there were no alarm systems in place because they had not seen any bears on the ice but added now a full-time watch was in place.

In August 2011 17-year-old schoolboy Horatio Chapple, from Salisbury, was killed by a polar bear while on a camping expedition to Spitzbergen, an archipelago north of Norway.