Day 2 |
Jul 04, 2011

At Sea

By Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Botanist

Co-ordinates: 73° 00`N, 19° 54`E
Weather: overcast
Air Temperature: 7°C

It was a very quiet but bright polar night, as the sun doesn’t set anymore at this time of the year at this latitude. The sea was calm for the whole day and the guests could enjoy the life on board the Silver Explorer, which today was a very busy one.

At 11, the “First Timer Cocktail Party” took place, this time in The Theatre, as there was a big group of “First Timers” on board.

The next daily program point was the mandatory AECO briefing in The Theatre. Robin West, our Expedition Leader, gave an introduction on how to behave in the Arctic environment, regarding the animals and the fragile vegetation that we will see on our excursions.

After lunch in The Restaurant with guests from Switzerland, I went to the lecture of our photographer on board, Kristine Hannon, during which she talked about some tips and tricks to get better pictures of the animals and landscapes of Svalbard.

For nearly the whole afternoon my colleagues, especially our bear guards and our marine biologists, were whale watching on the Bridge because the area around Bear Island is known for its frequent observations of dolphins and whales. This time we were lucky and could observe a Sperm Whale and pod of White Beaked Dolphins. The dolphins were really “showing off” and swimming with the vessel or leaping out of the water.

From the ornithological point of view, the first Northern Fulmars were following the ship and it was interesting to watch them gliding over the sea surface. In this area you can find the two morphs of Northern Fulmar. One is the white morph and the other one is the brown morph, which, as the Silver Explorer goes further north, becomes more abundant than the white morph.

Later, at 5 pm, my colleague Claudia Holgate gave a lecture “An introduction to the birds of the Arctic”. This is an excellent preparation for our tomorrow excursion, which will take us to the southern cliffs of Bear Island.

In the evening Captain Peter Stahlberg hosted his Welcome Cocktail Party, also presenting the Senior Officers to the guests. Afterwards, a delicious welcome dinner was served in The Restaurant, having the opportunity to talk and chat to our guests about the first Zodiac tour and the amazing landscape and nature tomorrow on Bear Island.