Co-ordinates: 62° 48’ N – 6° 25’ E
Weather: mostly overcast
Air temperature: 16° C
Wind: 16 knots
A brighter day in prospect after our wet excursions the day before, and in the afternoon a long Zodiac cruise around the picturesque island of Runde, to the North of Ålesund on the Norwegian coast was clearly much anticipated.
Our morning commenced with two excellent lectures that set the scene for sea mammal identifications and also then for the distinctive geological setting of the region in the broader context. Kara Weller, our onboard Naturalist, provided key points for the identification of potential whales, seals and dolphins that we hope to see throughout our odyssey towards Dublin and the Irish Sea in her lecture entitled Marine Mammals of the North Atlantic.
Earlier, fleeting sightings of Minke whales to the north had whet our appetite already and with deeper waters in prospect, we were armed with the skills to identify all new sightings!! Juan Restrepo, our onboard Geologist, provided a fascinating insight into the world of moving tectonic plates, heaving mountain ranges and the distinctive action of glaciers to form the deep fjords of the fretted Norwegian coastline. His lecture, entitled Geology Rocks, was a great introduction to a subject that is often hard for most to understand and apply.
The afternoon was filled with a great Zodiac cruise in the sheltered waters in the lee of Runde Island. Towering cliffs with soaring gannets, abandoned kittiwake nests on the contorted rocks and sightings of white tailed sea eagles – albeit in the distance – were exciting. A small un-manned lighthouse painted red and white was distinctively Norwegian. We took the route towards the north side of the island to the area where the East India Vessel Akerendam out of Texel bound for Batavia (Indonesia) had foundered in heavy seas with all hands lost in January 1725. Although chests of coins had been recovered shortly after the loss, the storms of that January day were lost to folk memory. Until, that is, 1972, when divers came upon the sunken remains of the wooden vessel hidden and preserved by the accumulated silt. They salvaged more than a 1,000 pounds of gold and silver, including rare coins (Gold Ducats) from Utrecht.
We rejoined the Silver Explorer to make the short journey to Ålesund, world-renowned centre for Art Nouveau architecture and our destination for the following morning.