Day 3 |
Jul 07, 2012

Bear Island, Svalbard, Norway 

By Robin Aiello, Marine Biologist

Co-ordinates: N 74º27'48", E 19º33'16"
Weather: Overcast with scattered rain showers
Air Temperature: 4ºC
Pressure: 1008 hPa
Wind: 15 knots

The seas remained bumpy all night as we crossed from Tromso to Bear Island. It was quite a relief when the ship set anchor in the protected bay in the southern section of Bear Island and everything calmed down a bit.

But the rough night did not deter anyone – as the announcements were made, the guests appeared in their warm, wet weather gear, and off we went for our hour and a half Zodiac tour of the bird cliffs.

The first stop was at a rock rubble slope where we regularly see a few puffins – we were not disappointed. There were about a dozen of these gorgeous funny little birds sitting up on the top. Occasionally one would launch itself from the ledge and fly past us – beating their wings frantically. In order to stay in flight, they must beet their wings 300 – 400 times per minute!!!

After taking a few photos, we headed out and around the point to the really scenic part of Bear Island – the 200-300m high sheer cliffs! It was stunning. This really is one of my all-time favourite Zodiac tours of anywhere in the world.

Everywhere you look there is something special and unique to see. At this time of the summer the kittiwake eggs are hatching and the fluffy little chicks are poking their heads out from under their mother’s breast. The guillemots are laying eggs, but they are also forming vast ‘rafts’ on the ocean. ‘Rafts’ is the term used for when a group of floating birds form a large group on the surface of the ocean. As I drifted slowly towards the birds in the Zodiac, the guillemots surrounded us – squawking and clacking to one another. Occasionally one would get a fright and the whole group would suddenly take off, or dive underwater with a lot of splashing and spraying.

One of the most awe-inspiring views that captures your eye when you come around the corner are the numerous tall rock pinnacles and sea cliffs that tower far above the ocean and form an impenetrable wall.

On close inspection the cliffs literally come alive - each and every ledge, nook and cranny was inhabited by birds. The most common are the dainty kittiwake gulls and the black and white common guillemots, which actually look a lot like a penguin that can fly!

Other common birds that we saw included great skua, glaucous gulls, brunnichs guillemots, black guillemots, fulmars and black-backed gulls.

The seas were rough, and the ride back was quite wet, but we had a great time and in all honesty, in my opinion, Bear Island looks spectacular in the fog, mist and rain – it is moody and extremely stunning! Everyone in my Zodiac agreed it was a beautiful and special Zodiac ride – the first of many for this cruise.

After a sumptuous lunch, Juan Carlos Restrepo, our geologist onboard, gave a lecture entitled “Geology Rocks”. This is a great lecture that covers an immense amount of information – from how the Earth first formed to how plate tectonics works, to the different types of rocks that we will see, to the internal structure of the Earth. What I like about this lecture is that he clearly explains basic geological terminologies.

After Juan’s lecture, at 5:30pm, everyone gathered in The Theatre with the Expedition Team for our first Recap & Briefing for this cruise. This is the perfect opportunity for guests to ask questions and to have the experts on the Expedition Team on hand to answer them. It is also when Robin West, our Expedition Leader, gets up and briefs us on the plans for tomorrow – in this case, ice cruising along the eastern side of Svalbard, looking for polar bears.

Later, at 7pm, Captain Adam Boczek welcomed each of the guests as they came into The Theatre for the Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Party. It was fun to see everyone dressed up in fancy clothing and happily mingling and meeting one another. This party was followed by the official Captain’s Dinner in The Restaurant.

Tag 3
Juli 07, 2012
Bäreninsel, Norwegen
Von Christian Walter, Historiker

Co-ordinates: 74° 21‘ 41“ N, 19° 09‘ 40“ O
Wetter: Stark bewölkt am frühen Morgen, leichter Nieselregen, gegen Mittag brachen die Wolken in Schiffsnähe auf

Das Frühstück wurde nicht mehr auf hoher See sondern vor der Bäreninsel eingenommen.
Die ersten Gäste waren dann auch schon 20 Minuten vor dem Beginn der Tour bereit.

Jarda, unsere Assistentin des Expeditionsleiters, fuhr außerordentlich umsichtig. Der erste Punkt war die Papageitaucher Kolonie gesehen werden. Die Fahrt entlang der Steilklippen mit ihren Tausenden von Dreizehenmöwen und Lummen war trotz des leichten Nieselregens so, dass eine Mitreisende spontan sagte, allein wegen dieser Zodiacfahrt habe sich die Reise in den Norden schon gelohnt!

Die See hatte etwas aufgeraut, der Wind stark zugenommen, selbst mehrere Windhosen (durch starke Winde aufgewirbeltes und in die Luft aufsteigendes Wasser) wurden gesehen. Ganz besonders spritzreich wurde es bei der Durchfahrt des „Himmlischen Tores“, eines mehr als 100 Meter langen Tunnels, kurz vor der Südspitze der Insel. Der Himmel riss wiederholt auf und gab den Gras- und Felsfarben einen kräftigeren Ton. Beide Gruppen waren begeistert von dem Erlebten, und würden sicherlich geschlossen das nächste Mal für einen Zodiacausflug bereit stehen…

Um 13:00 Uhr fuhr die Silver Explorer in Richtung Ostseite des Svalbard Archipels.

Der Wind hatte auf bis zu 47,6 km/h aufgefrischt, es waren knapp 4,5° Celsius und die Silver Explorer fuhr mit 14,5 Knoten gen Ostseite von Edgeoya, als Stefan seinen Vortrag über „Plattentektonik“ halten konnte.

Um 19:00 Uhr hatte der Kapitän zu seinem Willkommenscocktail gebeten, und erneut gesellte sich Karolina, unsere polnische Bärenwächterin zu mir, um sich mit schweizer Mitreisenden (und mir).

Ich werde auf den morgigen Expeditionstag und das Eis östlich von Edgeoya warten.