It’s been a while since I’ve visited Discovery Place so I was happy to take the short trip Uptown to see their latest IMAX offering—Wonders of the Arctic. As I entered the theater and saw the three story screen, I realized just how lucky we are to have such an impressive theater right here in Charlotte. There are only 60 IMAX Dome Theaters in the whole world! The design of the theater means that almost your entire field of vision is engaged which allows the audience to be fully immersed in the film experience. So on a hot and humid day, it seems the perfect time to head to the Arctic! While I typically only think of the North Pole as the Arctic, the Arctic Circle actually includes eight countries. Canada is mostly featured throughout this story.
This beautifully filmed documentary gives us a glimpse into the challenges of living in a frosty realm where temperatures can reach negative 50 degrees. Our tennis league makes us reschedule matches when it hits 32 degrees so I cannot even fathom how cold that is! Several short stories are interwoven through the film to show that nothing is easy about living in a world encased in ice. We are first introduced to a scientist named Shari who works closely with the native Inuit people who are so attuned to their surroundings that they are able to “read the ice.” By combining Shari’s technology with the knowledge of the Inuits, great progress is being made in researching ice thickness and climate change.
While it’s hard to imagine calling the Arctic home, many species thrive in these frigid temperatures. We travel underwater beneath the layers of frozen ice to the very productive ecosystem below. How these images were captured I can’t even imagine, but it is wondrous to see. We meet the always interesting narwhal, sharks, and Beluga and Bowhead whales. The endangered Bowhead whale population is now growing steadily and we see researchers sharing their difficult and sometimes dangerous methods for tracking these enormous creatures.
Next we travel to Hudson Bay where the locals have a rather unique worry for their children during Halloween celebrations—Polar Bears! Temperature changes have impacted the bears’ hunting schedule, causing them to travel farther inland to find food. This has kept the local Bear Patrol very busy and it’s quite a process to relocate such massive animals.
Each story in the film works together to highlight the importance of protecting this beautiful and unique part of our world. I’m surprised at how much I was able to learn about the Arctic in such a short and enjoyable time. Since I have no intention of ever visiting anywhere as frigid as the Arctic, it was the perfect way to experience this stunning location.