Morning: At Sea
Position at 0800: 72°46’29N 20°04’63E
Afternoon: Sorhamna, Bjornoya (Bear Island)
Position: 74°27’N 019°98E
As we arose this morning, the seas remained calm with only a gentle swell, the same that had rocked us gently to sleep during our first night onboard. Greeted by a slightly overcast sky and a temperature of 9°C, we headed for the dining room with thoughts of a hardy breakfast. After our wonderful dinner last night, we could only imagine what the kitchen staff had prepared for us this morning. During breakfast talk turned to the information that at 0545 this morning 5-6 Fin Whales and a small pod of Atlantic White Sided Dolphins had slipped quietly past Prince Albert II. Spotted by the watch on the bridge, a call was made to our resident Ornithologist, Dr. Brent Stephenson and our General Naturalist, Chris Srigley. They raced to the bridge, able to make the identification it was quickly decided that as with so many cetacean sightings, they had come and gone with a quick glimpse. To make a wake up call would have been for nothing.
Getting caught up in the discussions at the breakfast table, we all glanced at our watches and realized that Dr. Tony Huntley was about to begin his talk, “Marine Mammals: What are they?” We made the dash to The Theatre to join the other guests whom had not lost track of time! Would a marine mammal be spotted during the lecture? During his talk, Dr. Huntley employed our anthropologist, Christian Walter, to show adaptations of marine mammals. Christian donned many layers of clothing, flippers and various other articles in this demonstration.
Upon completion of Tony’s lecture, some guests headed out on deck to enjoy the clearing skies and rising temperature; we had now reached 11°C. Some enjoyed hot bullion on the Pool Deck severed by Jonel, while others returned to The Theatre for Camille Seamen’s talk “Photography 101”. Camille discussed composition and how making sound decisions with it can take your photography to the next level. She was able to convince those of us with smaller point and shoot cameras that we too could have the photos we may have thought only came from SLR, or digital SLR cameras. During Camille’s lecture, Silversea was extremely excited to welcome all first-time passengers aboard a Silversea cruise with our “first timers” cocktail party. Our Expedition Leader, Conrad Combrink, along with several of the lecture staff, welcomed all as they enjoyed canapés and champagne.
As our cocktail party was winding down in anticipation of another wonderful meal in the dining room, when a call rang out, “THAR SHE BLOWS!!!” A sighting seen by all. We enjoyed views of Humpback Whales, one or two Fin Whales and Atlantic White Sided Dolphins. After a fantastic sighting, we entered the dining room full of anticipation of this afternoon’s Zodiac cruise at Sorhamna, Bjornoya (Bear Island). Before this though, we will spend more time on deck in search of more whales!
Upon our approach to Bjornoya, all guests were called to our muster station (The Theatre) for our mandatory lifeboat drill. By maritime law, Prince Albert II must put us through this drill within 24 hrs of our port of departure. We learned that 7 short blasts followed by one long blast is the signal for us to go to our suites, collect our warm clothing, any medication we might need and our life jackets, and then head to the muster station. All crew were stationed around the ship to direct us. Once there, Conrad spoke to us about safety onboard. As we departed from this meeting, Bjornoya could be seen in the distance, and what a view it was! From the staff, we had begun to understand how special it was for us to be seeing the southern end of this magnificent island under sunny skies, calm conditions and the warmth we were experiencing. As the Zodiacs were lowered, our anticipation grew, until finally we boarded the Zodiacs for our inaugural Zodiac cruise!
Along they way, we were able to see Black Guillemot, Common Guillemot, Brunnich’s Guillemot, Black-legged Kittiwake, Great Skuas, and Glaucous Gulls among the magnificent geology. We learned of Bear Island’s 740 fresh water lakes full of Arctic Char. As we returned to the ship, smiles filled the line up for hot chocolate, which had been set up for us in the reception area. What a beginning to what promises to be a trip of a lifetime!!
“The 12th of June in the morning, wee saw a white beare, which wee rowed after with our boate, thinking to cast a rope about her neck; but when wee were neare her, shee was so great that we durst not do it, … being well furnished of men and weapons, wee rowed with both our boates unto the beare, and fought with her while foure glasses were runne out (two hours), for our weapons could doe her little hurt; and amongst the rest of the blowes that we gave her, one of our men stroke her into the backe with an axe, which stuck fast in her backe, and yet she swomme away with it; but we rowed after her and at last wee cut her head in sunder with an axe, where with shee dyed; … This island we called the Beare Island.”
Journal from William Barents’ voyage in 1596
From Martin Conway No Man’s Land