A few hours counted as she and her bear enjoyed the sea’s calm. But out of nowhere, the bear began growling toward the water.
Her brows furrowed. It wasn’t like him to lose his cool. Around them, the sea was churning as if something massive was under them. She should’ve taken this as a sign to leave. She didn’t.
When Bela decided to go fishing that morning, she’d only wanted to catch some fresh fish for that week. She and her best friend, Ursune, a two-hundred-pound black bear, left home in the wee hours of the morning, ready to receive the day.
But although everything started well for them, the day would soon turn sour, showing them that the Beaufort Sea was a place to be taken seriously.
Bela Inessa Volkov was your average zoologist living on Parris Island, Alaska. A Siberian native, Bela had always dedicated her life to saving and preserving wildlife.
Working across numerous countries for this noble cause, Bela had saved several animals from sicknesses, animal cruelty, and even certain death. But although her list of animals was extensive, none of them had stolen her heart as Ursune, her pet bear and best friend.
Bela met Ursune at a circus in the deep of Northern Siberia. The black bear had been feral then, with his captors keen on training him so he could be part of their circus act.
Bela brought in her team of rescuers as fast as possible. But even though she managed to free Ursune from his captors, she soon discovered she couldn’t let the animal go.
Bela’s relationship with Ursune was something straight out of a fairy tale. The beast adored her. He was not only gentle when it came to her but went out of his way to keep her company and even comfort her when needed.
He reciprocated every bit of her energy and the love she showed him. It wasn’t long before she processed the documents that would classify Ursune as her pet. She had no idea what he would do down the line.
As Bela’s livelihood centered around zoology, her organization helped her relocate to Alaska to study the region’s wildlife. Her journey began in Anchorage and soon landed her on Parris Island, where the incident occurred.
For the few weeks Bela spent on the island, she and Ursune would take walks around the cold terrain and enjoy everything the island had to offer. But among their favorite activities was fishing, which would show Bela what Ursune was.
The day the incident took place began as peaceful as any other. After a quick breakfast for herself and her bear, Bela loaded up the truck and drove down to the peer.
With her bait and fishing rod in hand, she and Ursune hopped into their boat and paddled into the sea. She had no idea what horrors awaited her in those frozen waters.
The fishing experience had always been peaceful for Bela and her bear. The cold breeze cleared the mind while the fresh air helped both friends relax.
But everything was different that morning. The air seemed a little bit colder and the water darker than usual. Bela should’ve taken it as a sign and paddled back to shore. She’d regret staying.
A few hours counted as Bela and Ursune enjoyed the sea’s calm. But out of nowhere, the bear began growling toward the water.
Bela’s brows furrowed. It wasn’t like Ursune to lose his cool. Around them, the sea was churning as if something massive was under them. Bela should’ve taken this as a sign to leave. She didn’t.
She reached over to pet Ursune. Hoping to calm him before he did something reckless like jumping into the freezing water.
But the bear’s growls were growing more frantic even though she tried every technique she usually used to calm him. It was then that she craned her neck over the boat’s side. Her breath caught at what she saw.
A large shadow passed underneath Bela’s boat, rocking the vessel. It swam across again, rising to the surface and blowing a spray of water into the air.
“An orca,” Bela stammered as she finally recognized the creature’s rubbery black and white skin. “A killer whale,” she continued with a swallow of saliva. “We need to be quiet, Ursune.” But it was too late.
The bear let out a shattering roar, huffing and puffing toward the water around them. Although killer whales rarely came after humans, Bela couldn’t guarantee their safety, especially since the Ursune was busy antagonizing the creature.
She threw her fishing rod aside and got hold of the paddles, ready to start their return home. But the orca tipped their boat over.
Cold water permeated every crevice of Bela’s clothes, forcing itself down her throat and nostrils as she got submerged. White bubbles fluttered past her. Her lungs burned. Within the chaos, her blurry sight caught the terrifying orca swimming past her.
Struggling to get a hold of herself, Bela beat her arms and legs. She held whatever breath she still had, trying her best not to panic. But her eyes caught the killer whale rushing straight toward her.
The orca was speeding toward Bela. It was going to make a quick meal out of her. But what happened next left even her, an expert in zoology, stumped.
Ursune swam before her, taking the brunt of the orca’s attack. It swiped its claws at the creature, fending it off. Bela had already swam to the surface, still not believing what was happening.
The island’s locals came to help her and Ursune. They managed to get them back to dry land, offering a warm fireplace while tending to Ursune’s wounds.
Bela would conclude her research on the island and leave afterward. But even though she experienced one of the most traumatic events of her life, she was glad it had shown what a true friend she had in her big black bear. Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.