Day 4 |
Jun 11, 2011

At sea and Bergen, Norway

By Kara Weller, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 59° 57’ N, 04° 48’ E
Weather: sunny
Air Temperature: 12° C
Pressure: 1010 hPa
Wind: 40 km / h from NNW
Ship’s speed: 12 knots

A calm and pleasant day at sea awaited us today. The gentle and soothing motion of the slowly rolling ocean provided for a very relaxed atmosphere, and morning overcast conditions turned slowly to sunshine as the day progressed. Many took the opportunity to sleep in, stroll in the sunshine on deck or sit watching the vast vista of water and passing ships, catch up on reading and generally relaxing.

Entertainment was provided by a full lecture program that covered a range of topics starting with a talk on weather and atmosphere, then later in the morning photography tips, and in the afternoon marine mammals of the north Atlantic.

Most people took the opportunity to enjoy the wonderful warm sunshine that came out in the afternoon to spend time on deck, basking in the warmth and staring out at the mesmerizing waves. Some bird life was spotted along the way. In addition to several species of gulls, some gannets as well as northern fulmars were seen. Gannets are remarkable birds with their strangely patterned faces and coloration. Excellent divers, they plunge full speed from the sky down into the water only to snatch at their fish prey once they turn and bob back up towards the surface. Fulmars are among the most elegant and lovely to watch of all seabirds. Their thick necks and powerful build somehow don’t take anything away from their gracefulness as they glide over the waters in search of prey. Taking advantage of small local updrafts, they can glide up and down for hours barely ever needing to flap their wings. Being closely related to the albatrosses of the world, they have small tubes on top of their bills through which a salt solution drips – this is their way of getting rid of the excess salt that builds up in their system since they eat salty food from the sea and spend their lives flying over the ocean.

As the afternoon progressed, land became slowly more and more visible as we turned east and headed in towards the town of Bergen. Small houses came into view perched on the rocky shoreline, and gradually the trees became thicker and denser and the forests more extensive. With the sun still shining and the bridges and outlying views of Bergen coming closer, most people put on jackets against the wind and came out on deck to admire the views. Norway is such an amazingly clean and tidy country with immaculately painted buildings and houses. The reds, blues, yellows and sparkling white paint jobs on the houses were impressive to see and we admired these beautiful houses situated on hills overlooking the water with bigger mountains looming in the background. By 7 pm we were alongside the pier in Bergen and had the opportunity to walk into town and explore on our own, or to stay on board and look forward to seeing the town in the morning.