Day 6 |
Jun 29, 2009

Hornsund, Burgerbukta, Svalbard

By Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 77 02 37 N, 15 59 41 E

Weather: overcast

Air Temperature: 2C

The Prince Albert II reached its anchor position in the Hornsundfjord at 7.00 am. A scout Zodiac was sent out to look if Polar Bears were around in this area. At 8.45 the Zodiacs were ready and my group and I headed towards the Paierl- and Mühlbacher Glacier. Weather conditions and sight were excellent and I had good expectations that we would get to see a Polar Bear although the Scout Zodiac didn’t have a sighting.

On the way to the glacier, Little Auks, Common Guillemont and Kittiwakes were crossing our path. The Zodiac cruised along the shoreline and together with the guests I was looking out and searching every corner hoping to see the most spectacular mammal of the arctic – the Polar Bear. After a 45-minute ride, we got to the ice edge. A sound was filling the air and it seemed the ice was “singing”. By breaking and melting up the air, bubbles in the ice are set free and produce this magnificent sound in the overwhelming silence of the arctic. Small, big, blue and white icebergs were surrounding the Zodiac. It was wonderful scenery and a fantastic feeling being part of this unique nature. Somewhere at the glacier front you could hear and sometimes see when the glacier was calving and tons of ice were crashing into the sea. I was looking out with my binoculars for seals and birds and suddenly one guest shouted “a seal”. I turned around and approximately 40 meters away from the Zodiac a ringed seal swam in the water, looking at us and then dove away. On the way back to the ship we saw the Glaucous Gull and the nesting sites of the Kittiwakes up in the cliffs.

In the afternoon I spent my first sea day, or half sea day, on the Prince Albert II while we were cruising towards Edgeoya.

Lectures by my colleagues Robin about marine mammals and Juan Carlos on plate tectonics filled up this afternoon. From the lectures this afternoon I went straight on to the Recap & Briefing session in The Theatre, where Robin talked about puffins, Stefan on glaciers, Christian about boats and houses, and Camille showed one day from the video of this voyage.

The day ended with a cocktail party for the Venetian Society members in the Observation Lounge and an excellent Venetian Dinner in The Restaurant.