Day 6 |
Aug 17, 2010

Monacobreen Glacier

By Sue Flood, General Naturalist

Co-ordinates: 79°38’N, 13°23’E
Weather: overcast, patchy mist, light-medium wind.
Air Temperature:0-6°C

Following yesterday’s very high winds in Hinlopenstretet, it was necessary to reconsider the next part of the expedition, as the weather forecast over the next few days indicated we would struggle to make further progress east. So it was decided to head back north up Hinlopenstretet and west into Liefdefjorden in order to maximize our opportunities for wildlife encounters.

Before breakfast I went up to the Bridge to scan the shore for bears with Chris Srigley, the other General Naturalist on board. After a very windy approach to the entrance to Liefdefjorden in the early hours of the morning, we entered the shelter of the fjord. Some 30 kilometres later we arrived at the head of the fjord to witness the spectacular sight of the converging glaciers: Monacobreen and Seligerbreen.

Monacobreen was named in honour of Duke Albert I of Monaco whose expeditions had mapped the glacier in 1906-1907. Seligerbreen was named for German surveyor Paul Seliger, who mapped this area in 1907. Seliger also named the adjacent glacier Idabreen, for his wife.

I joined one of the Zodiacs, driven by Christian Everts, and headed over with the guests toward the glacier front. We were rewarded with some stunning views and sounds of the glacier calving as we wound our way between the huge blue-grey chunks of ice that had broken off from the glacier front earlier that morning. Kittiwakes rested on passing ice floes, and fished in the upwellings along the glacier front. The occasional arctic skua pursued the kittiwakes. We also caught sight of glaucous gulls.

We were fortunate to witness the spectacle of a lone polar bear, swimming amongst the brash ice, before it briefly climbed onto a freshly calved berg for a better view of our zodiac, and then disappeared again into the icy water.

Shortly afterwards we drew alongside another Zodiac out in the fjord, manned by the Hotel Department, who were on hand to surprise us with champagne and delicious handmade chocolates – what a treat!

During lunch we made our way back to the northern coast, passing the Andoya island group. A scout boat was lowered to search for polar bears on shore, but none were found. Our Expedition Leader, Robin West, therefore decided we should continue our voyage around the northwest coast of Svalbard, before heading south towards Prins Karls Forland.
Later, our photographer Kristine Hannon gave a fascinating talk on her work, with some top tips and we then had a Recap & Briefing about tomorrow’s activities.

This evening before dinner, I enjoyed attending my first Venetian Society cocktail party in the Observation Lounge. The Venetian Society is so named to reflect the Italian heritage of Silversea and exists to recognize our repeat guests whose loyalty is so appreciated. This was followed by yet another outstanding dinner by our Executive Chef Anne-Mari Cornelius and her team.