Meet Nansen Weber, the drone artist of Canada's Arctic

Nansen Weber is a wildlife photographer in Canada's Arctic. Check out his most recent, breathtaking drone footage of the North.

'I’d like to show people through my videos, 'Hey this is what we have, let’s not lose it''

Nansen Weber has spent many of his summers at a remote lodge on Nunavut's Somerset Island. (submitted by Nansen Weber)

Nansen Weber says he spent much of his toddler years running around in the Arctic tundra.

One day, he was fishing up on Baffin Island with his brother.

"I'm six, he's eight," said Weber. "We're fishing away, and the dog starts barking, and there's these two Arctic wolves looking at me and my brother."

He said the wolves were probably over a hundred pounds. "I don't remember being scared. I remember looking at my brother saying, 'Oh look at those wolves here. They're super cool.'"

Weber, who's 25 and is now a wildlife photographer and filmmaker, was named after a famous Norwegian explorer — Fridtjof Nansen.

He comes from a family of explorers — his father, Richard Weber, received an Order of Canada for "pioneering acts of polar exploration."

Summers in the Arctic

From as far back as he can remember, Weber spent every summer in the High Arctic working at a remote lodge owned by his parents on the otherwise uninhabited Somerset Island. When working, he would spend his days taking guests out on the land.

But on his own time, he goes out to explore — often with his camera and drone in tow.

"I've spent hundreds of hours all over the tundra... chasing caribou, chasing polar bears."

Sometimes it would take three days of waiting to get a 30-second shot of a wolverine, he said.

Weber kayaking in the coast of Cape Anne, Nunavut, waiting to photograph narwhal migrating. (submitted by Nansen Weber)

Other times, it would take three weeks of checking every day before spotting a pod of belugas in the ocean.

A shot of an Arctic fox. (submitted by Nansen Weber)

He recalled a moment this summer when he encountered over a dozen belugas stuck in a small tidal pond.

"They were all frantically freaking out, trying to get out," he said. "As a wildlife filmmaker, this is an amazing experience… But at the same time in the back of your head, you're kinda worried for these belugas."

There were times when Weber's drone was chased by seagulls and a peregrine falcon. Other times, he'd be stuck near Lancaster Sound, sleeping by the beach with winds at up to 80 kilometres per hour. A polar bear once walked up to his camp and woke him up.

Belugas stranded in the Cunningham River on Somerset Island in August 2016. All the whales escaped without injury at the next high tide, says Weber. (submitted by Nansen Weber)

Despite this, Weber still chases after wildlife in the Arctic.

"I want people to see and experience the Arctic."

Advocating for preserving Canada's Arctic

Weber shot a stunning drone film of beluga whales last year.

His most recent film was shot between April and September this year. The video "Conquer the Arctic" is being released in conjunction with drone manufacturers DJI, who sponsor Weber's work.

The purpose of his work, Weber said, is to advocate for the Arctic to be preserved.

"Through my imagery and my videos, people get to experience what we have to protect as Canada."

A curious polar bear inspects Weber's camera in July of 2016. 'I took about a few hundred shots for one good picture. Most of the time its pictures of bear breath, slobber, partial bear.' (submitted by Nansen Weber)

Over the past twenty years, Weber says he's noticed the climate changing at an alarming rate.

"I can see less ice every year, stuff getting greener, we have mosquitoes all of a sudden which we didn't use to have," he said. "So it's scary."

"I'd like to show people through my videos, 'Hey this is what we have, let's not lose it.'"

Weber photographing a muskox herd on the plateau above the Cunningham River in June 2015. (submitted by Nansen Weber)

About the Author

Priscilla Hwang


Priscilla Hwang is a reporter with CBC News based in Yellowknife. She's worked with the investigative unit, CBC Toronto, Ottawa, Whitehorse and Iqaluit. Before joining the CBC in 2016, she travelled across the Middle East and North Africa to share people's stories. She has a Master of Journalism from Carleton University and speaks Korean, Tunisian Arabic, and dabbles at classical Arabic and French. Want to contact her? Email or @prisksh on Twitter.


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