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Day 9 |
Aug 20, 2011

 Monacobreen, Svalbard 

By Robin Aiello, Marine Biologist

 

Co-ordinates: 79º32.162’N, 012º23.933’E
Weather: Bright sunshine with very few clouds

Air Temperature: 5ºC

After several days of overcast grey skies, it was a delight to wake up to bright sunshine and clear skies. Many of the guests gathered outside on the open decks to watch as the Silver Explorer approached Monacobreen. It was a stunning landscape with the sunlight reflecting off the jagged top of the glacier front with the dark jagged mountains in the background.

The large glacier of Monacobreen is located at the end of Liefdefjorden and has one of the largest glacier fronts in Svalbard, being about 5km from one end to the other. This glacier was named after Prince Albert I of Monaco in recognition of his support of research in the Spitsbergen region.

Personally, this is my favourite glacier to cruise with a Zodiac. The topography of this glacier is rugged and impressive – with massive vertical seracs (pillars of ice) and deep crevasses (cliffs). What strikes me the most is the amazing range of colours, from bright white, to the palest baby-blue, to the deepest richest near-violet.

There are several large caves along the glacier front, with a huge number of seabirds flying around their openings. These birds gather here due to the nutrient-rich upwellings caused by the freshwater run-off and rising bottom water. This attracts thousands of Kittiwakes, Fulmars and Glaucous Gulls. Today, we were fortunate enough to also get some great sightings of the rare, all-white, Ivory gull. There was one in particular that kept flying right over the top of my Zodiac, and remained close by for several minutes, allowing my guests great views and photographs.

But the highlights of the Zodiac cruise were the massive ice calvings that we witnessed. One such event in particular sticks in my memory - a huge section of about 500m of cliff came crashing down. It was not a rapid collapse, but a gradual toppling, almost like it was in slow-motion. Since we were several hundred meters from this calving, the large massive booming sound reached us several seconds after the ice had fallen. Truly spectacular!

After all guests were onboard, the ship sailed out the fjord and past the Andøyane Islands where we usually find polar bears. While our two bear guards, Chris Srigley and Karolina Karas, scouted the bays and inlets by Zodiac, the rest of the Expedition Team was on the Bridge with binoculars looking from the ship. We had several false sightings, including several large boulders and one large piece of driftwood. In the end, we could not find any bears, so we picked up Chris and Karolina and set sail for our next destination – a deep sea ridgeline where we had seen many whales during the last cruise. Unfortunately, we did not end up finding any whales despite over ten pairs of eyes looking out from the Bridge.

At 2:15pm, Franz Barlein, our Ornithologist, gave a lecture on Bird Migration. Franz has studied bird migration for many years, and gave an excellent lecture on how and why so many birds migrate – some travel more than 50,000km per year. He gave many examples, including the Arctic tern, which flies from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back every year, and the Godwit, which travels from Alaska to New Zealand and back every year.

It is hard to believe that this cruise is almost over, but tonight was the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail Party & Dinner, which is always a reminder. The Theatre was buzzing with people chatting and laughing, and as I wandered around the crowd I could hear guests recounting some of the adventures we have had and sharing stories from the trip.

But, it is not over yet – we still have another day at the 14th of July Glacier and Ny Alesund. Let’s hope the weather is as fine tomorrow as it was today!

 

 

Tag 9 | August 20, 2011 | Monacobreen, Svalbard, Norwegen
von Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Biologe

Koordinaten: 79°39’ N, 13°06’ E
Wetter: sonnig
Luft Temperatur: 7° C

In der Hoffnung auf den Andoya Inseln an dem Eingang zum Lifdjefjorden Eisbären zu sichten, startete der Tag für unsere Bear Guards schon um 6 Uhr in der Früh. Leider umsonst, denn außer einem einzigen Bären der im Meer schwamm und weit entfernt war konnten sie nichts Entdecken. Die Silver Explorer setzte daher ihren Kurs zum Monacobreen fort. Es war einer dieser unvergesslichen Tage hier in Spitzbergen. Blauer Himmel, Sonne und der Monacobreen, Seligerbreen und Idabreen erstrahlten in ihrer ganzen Pracht. Ein imposantes Bild: blaues Meer, weiße Gletscher, blauer Himmel und dazwischen die spitzen Berge von Spitzbergen.

Um 8.30 ging die erste Zodiaktour los und zwischen den Eisbergen hindurch bahnte sich das Boot einen Weg zum Gletscher. Der Gletscher war dieses mal sehr aktive und kalbte ständig. Aus einem Sicherheitsabstand beobachteten wir, wie große Stücke tiefblau leuchtenden Eises von der 40 Meter hohen Gletscherwand abbrach und mit lautem Getöse in das Meer versank. Langsam fuhren wir durch die glitzernden Eisstücke hindurch von Eisberg zu Eisberge, viele von ihnen dienten als Rastplatz für die Dreizehenmöwen, Eismöwen und Elfenbeinmöwen.

Es war einfach ein herrliches Panorama, das sich unseren Gästen bot. Nach 90 Minuten unbeschreiblicher Tour kehrten wir zum Schiff zurück und begannen die Tour mit den andren beiden Zodiakgruppen. Unsere Gäste konnten dann am Sonnendeck bei einem Cocktail den wahrlich karibischen Anblick des Lifdjefjordes genießen.

Kurz vor Mittag nahm die Silver Explorer dann wieder Kurs auf die Andoyen Inseln um dieses Mal ein Scoutboot auszuschicken und die Inselgruppe nach Eisbären abzusuchen. Leider wieder vergebens. Am Ende wusste das Expeditionsteam, dass es zwar viele weiße Felsen auf den Inseln gibt aber zu mindestens heute keine Eisbären.

Der Nachmittag wurde mit einem Vortragsprogramm, auf der englischsprachigen Seite hielt mein Kollege Franz eine Präsentation über das Zugverhalten der Vögel und auf der deutschsprachigen Seite unser Historiker Peter eine Präsentation über die Geschichte Svalbards. Um 17.00Uhr gab es dann den Rückblick und die Vorausschau für den morgigen Tag.

Abgeschlossen wurde dieser Expeditionstag mit dem Kapitäns FarewellCocktail und einem kulinarischen Leckerbissen im Restaurant, hoffend das Morgen das Wetter so anhält wir unsere geplanten Wanderungen auf den 14 Juli Gletscher und den Besuch von Ny Alesund im arktischen Sonnenschein genießen dürfen .

 

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