Day 3 |
Jun 26, 2009

Raudfjorden, Svalbard

By Juan Carlos Restrepo, Geologist

Co-ordinates: 80º 13.3’ N, 011º 43.6’ E

Weather: Partly cloudy

Air Temperature: -2ºC, 28ºF

Pressure: 1015 hPa

Wind: 15 – 20 knots

Today’s log must unfortunately start with sad news. On Tuesday the 23rd of June, Mr. Mauro Terrevazzi passed away in Monaco. Mr Terrevazzi was Deputy Chairman of Silversea Cruises and the first appointed CEO of the company in 1994. We at Silversea will always keep deep in our hearts his dedication and be grateful to him. The Prince Albert II in homage to Mr. Terrevazzi flew the flag at half-mast during the whole day.

Moving on to today’s events, I must say that this was indeed an expedition day! I woke up in the morning to find out that the Prince Albert II had reached its northernmost position ever! Captain Peter Stahlberg got the ship to 80º 13.3’ N. In her whole life, the Prince Albert II had never sailed this far north. The ice conditions were great and we sailed through the pack ice during most of the morning. Nearly all our guests were on deck enjoying the endless vistas with ice floes as far as the ice could see.

All eyes on deck were glued to binoculars and cameras, all looking for polar bears, and I did see some polar bear tracks on the ice. An Ivory Gull was a birding highlight; kittiwakes, guillemots and fulmars were also flying around. I also saw some seals in the distance, but too far to identify them.

While we were doing this, our Expedition Leader Conrad Combrink was on the radio with the Expedition Leader of the two-masted schooner Norderlicht. They kindly gave us the heads-up that they had spotted a bear in Raudfjorden, which was not far from our position. The Captain steamed south for this beautiful fjord and shortly after 12 pm, I boarded my Zodiac to go on a polar-bear-watching tour. 

I set out with my group of guests and after a short Zodiac ride, we got to where the Norderlicht was. The bear was right near them. He was walking along the shore heading south into the fjord, then he went in the water and swam along the shore for over a mile. 

We then headed back to pick up the second group of guests so they could also have a look at this beautiful animal. When we got to the end of the fjord with the second group, there was too much ice to get close to the bear. We did however see him swimming and sticking his head out of the ice every now and then, looking for seals and probably keeping an eye on us as well.

Just as we were starting to head back to the ship the ice bear came out of the water and onto the ice. We then decided to stay a bit longer and we enjoyed good views of the Arctic’s top predator walking on the sea ice heading for the shore. It was a bit distant, but quite amazing, the first bear sighting of the voyage.

At 4:45 pm, Stefan Kredel gave his Climate Change lecture, followed by a Recap & Briefing by the Expedition Team at 6:15 pm. I learned about the plans for tomorrow, as well as some interesting facts on Polar Bear ecology, Polar Bear hunting and Icebergs. After recap, I headed for The Restaurant where I had a lovely dinner with some of our guests.