Day 7 |
Jun 30, 2009

Edgeoya, Svalbard, Norway

By Christian Walter, Ethnohistorian

Co-ordinates: 77 degrees 56,40 N, 21 degrees 18,09 O

Weather: Overcast during the morning, partly snowing

Air Temperature: -2,8 degrees Celsius

Pressure: 1009

Wind: 27 kmh

The ice-chart had predicted great masses of ice to the east of Spitsbergen, and ice-cruising had been proposed for this morning. So, finally, a morning to enjoy a little more sleep. The alarm clocks set for 06:45 a.m. or 07:15 a.m. could be ignored and a leisurely breakfast anticipated, when at 07:30 a.m. Conrad's voice came over the loud-speaker, announcing a change of plans: we were going to go ashore at Diskobukta on Edgeoya at 09:00 a.m.

Staff rapidly changed into Zodiac-gear, the scout-boats set off with the bear guides, and a landing site was secured. At first everything looked set for a walk to the canyon at the end of Diskobukta, looking for Kittiwakes (thousands of them nesting there) and arctic foxes (hunting the Kittiwakes).

Several guests had requested lectures, therefore Conrad decided that one of the staff members would stay behind to entertain the two groups waiting for the second disembarkation with a lecture. Since Camille was supposed to film on shore, it was either Hans or myself. As I had been here before, Hans was given the chance to go ashore, while I prepared for the talk "Early Exploration".

Shortly after the first announcement was made for disembarkation, Conrad radioed the Prince Albert II with the order to put the disembarkation on hold. The tide was going out and a landing was feasible, but the return would be quite tricky. He eventually decided to postpone the landing until the afternoon, giving every guest the chance to attend my lecture at the same time.

The Theatre filled, and while we were waiting for Rob (our IT manager) to arrange for the lecture to be seen in the suites, Dietmar and his team offered hot and cold drinks. "Early Exploration" dealt with the difficulties the early explorers encountered when they set out for new lands. Early navigational instruments, maps and ships were shown, indicating that this lecture would set the tone for the second part, which would cover "Northern Exploration" more specifically.

Before lunch was served Camille gave a talk about photography, giving hints and indications of what to do to improve your pictures. The pictures and the film taken so far of our voyage were presented as well.

The afternoon was going to be full of activities, when Captain Peter Stahlberg announced that he had good and bad news: a landing was not possible due to a POLAR BEAR ashore. Groups 1 and 2 were called during lunch to board the Zodiacs and head for the bear. Bearly/barely an hour had passed when groups 3 and 4 were told to get ready for their opportunity to see for themselves. A possible landing was mentioned, when yet again, a POLAR BEAR sighting next to the hut at Diskobukta proved good and bad news at the same time. Good: a sighting, bad: no landing allowed … until on closer inspection it turned out to be a reindeer.

After groups 3 and 4 had come back from their landing, groups 1 and 2 were sent out for their canyon-walk. The walk itself had been quite easy: a wet landing and an almost level walk to the entrance of the canyon. Whale bones around the hut indicated former hunting activities, but the interesting part of our visit was to observe the thousands of Kittiwakes on their nests, in the cliffs, and circling above the canyon. Although on other visits foxes had been seen, today only a fox-carcass was found. Perhaps they were just hiding until we left….

The Recap & Briefing covered the Polar Bear seen, Chris' take on foxes – with Rafael adding some information – Hans' pictures of plants seen during the walk, and both Juan and Stefan talking about geological features, and how to explain them. Eventually it was time for dinner – yet another opportunity to sample delicious dishes and exchange views on today's adventures.

After-dinner entertainment could be had in the Panorama Lounge, and as tomorrow morning was going to be another expedition-day, groups 2 and 3 had to consider that it would be their turn to get up early…