Day 6 |
Jul 05, 2008

Poolepynten & St. Jonsfjorden

By Tony Huntley, Marine Biologist

We spent a very calm night at anchor in the lee of the island known as Prins Karls Forland. Shortly before 0700, the Captain maneuvered the Prince Albert II north to Poolepynten on the east side of the island. Poolepynten means “pool point” in English, so named for a fresh water pond present on the point. By 0800, we were disembarking for the landing. A short walk south of the landing site brought us to our first walrus haul-out. Actually, there were two, each with 50 to 80 animals. We spent almost an hour and one half observing and photographing these amazing creatures. As we were watching, more walrus, mostly youngsters, approached from the water and played on the beach. Finally, in the water off shore, but still very close, we got a very good view of a Minke Whale. On our way back to the landing site, we saw several Arctic terns guarding their nests. As we returned to the ship, Carolina met us with hot chocolate. Several guests who did not go ashore took a short Zodiac tour and were treated to Walrus in the water, following the boat and playing with each other. All in all, it was a truly magical morning.

During lunch, the Prince Albert II was repositioned in a fjord slightly northeast of Poolepynten. St. Jonsfjorden is almost 20 km long. We stopped at beach south of the Gaiffelbreen glacier. Here, some of us were able to make a long hike up to a plateau to see the glacier from above. During this hike, we were able to spot Svlabard Reindeer, Purple Sandpipers, and Snow Buntings. Along the route, we saw large bunches of shed reindeer fur clinging to the vegetation. Those who did not take the option of a long hike, walked along the shore and saw several wildflowers including the purple saxifrage. After a short walk, they took a Zodiac tour into the bay at the base of the glacier. There they saw the fresh ice face indicating a recent “calving” event. It was a beautiful day in Svalbard onboard the Prince Albert II.

We returned to the ship eager for dinner and thinking about our chances to find elusive Isbjorn (“Polar Bear” in Norwegian) tomorrow! After dinner, our lecturers “lied” to us in an entertaining game of Liar’s Club. Stefan, Christian, Brent and myself each created stories about various words, and guests had to decide who was telling the truth. It was difficult, but in the end several guessed correctly. Soon enough it was time to retire and dream of polar bears on the ice tomorrow.