A road sign sporting a polar bear notifies motorists of the animal's presence outside the Arctic town of Longyearbyen in Norway. (Daniel Sannum Lauten/AFP via Getty Images)

One of the best places on Earth to experience Friday's solar eclipse is on the remote Norwegian islands of Svalbard. They also happen to be full of polar bears.

A Czech tourist had been sleeping in his tent Thursday when a polar bear dragged him outside, clawed at his back and mauled him. "It was going for my head. I used my hands to protect my head," Jakub Moravec told the Associated Press from a hospital bed.

Moravec told the news agency Reuters that he was scared only after the fact; at the time, he was thinking only "to save my head." He expects to be out of the hospital soon.

The bear apparently went through a fence the tourists had erected. Soon, gunshots rang out from other members in the group who had been sleeping in different tents. The bear was later shot dead by rescue crews, Reuters reported.


A local representative of the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard walks toward the body of a polar bear that attacked a tourist camp in Svalbard, Norway, on March 19, 2015 . (Arild Lyssand/Svalbard Police, NTB scanpix, via AP)

This photo released March 19, 2015, shows a tourist camp in Svalbard where a Czech tourist was mauled by a polar bear. (Arild Lyssand/Svalbard Police via AFP/Getty Images)

Moravec had been camping out with five others on a combined ski and snow scooter trip. The Arctic islands are full of tourists ahead of the eclipse, and lodging has been booked for months and years. Along with the nearby Faeroe Archipelago, the islands' total population has grown from 48,000 to about 58,000, AP reported.

A near-total eclipse lasting about 2½ minutes can be viewed from Svalbard, as the moon moves between the Earth and the sun. The event will be extra-special, given that the moon will be a "supermoon," as its orbit is at its closest point to Earth. The vernal equinox also falls on the same day as the solar eclipse, and the next time that's expected to happen is in 2034.

Officials have warned about the polar bears, which roam about freely. In a pamphlet, Svalbard's governor advises visitors to watch out for them.

As AP reported, there are an estimated 3,000 polar bears on Svalbard and an average of three are shot in self-defense annually.

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