Day 9 |
Jul 22, 2009

Liefdefjorden, Svalbard

By Juan Carlos Restrepo, Geologist

Co-ordinates: N 79º 31.378’, E 012º 23.451’

Weather: Sunny skies

Air Temperature: 0ºC, 32 F

Pressure: 1011 hPa

Wind: Calm

Liefdefjorden – which means “Love Fjord” - is one of my favorite places in Svalbard and one that we had been trying to get to since the beginning of the season, to no avail until today. The ice conditions were just right and today we were finally able to go in and have a close look at this spectacular fjord.

I was so excited about coming back to Liefdefjorden that I spent most of the evening on the Bridge looking for wildlife as we sailed in. We dropped the anchor at midnight last night and this morning I got up early to see the majestic views of Monacobreen.

After breakfast, we lowered the Zodiacs and went with half of our guests on a Zodiac cruise of this 5 km glacier face and impressive calving front. We covered the area entirely with our Zodiacs from west to east and had a good look at Ivory Gulls, Bearded and Ringed Seals, Kittiwakes, Skuas, Glaucous Gulls and Guillemots. The glacier rewarded us with some calving action and great panoramic views.

The weather kept on improving as the morning went by and on the second tour I went the opposite direction, first along Monacobreen and then Seligerbreen. The glacial retreat in this area is dramatic and I have seen the changes in only a few years. The glacier front has retreated a couple hundred meters, leaving a small rocky islet isolated. In a few years the shared glacier front will probably be lost when the glacier has retreated behind the first ridge of the mountain Stortingpresidentet, which separates the two glaciers.

During the course of the morning, as we were out on tour, our Expedition Leader Robin West spoke to a vessel sailing in the fjord and they informed us that they had spotted a polar bear with her cub in the Andoyane Islands, not far from our position. By lunchtime we had everybody back on board and we sailed for this low-lying group of islands at the entrance of the fjord. 

I had a quick lunch and went to the Bridge to look for wildlife as we sailed in towards our anchorage position. On the way there, a Minke Whale and few seals were spotted. Once the Prince Albert II was at the spot where the Origo had spotted the bear, we lowered Zodiacs and our staff and bear guides went scouting for the animals. Shortly after they had found the mother and cub, the ship’s crew quickly lowered all the remaining boats in the water.

As soon as we were ready, we set out to see the bears and indeed we found them. They were lying down on the grass, napping away. We stayed silent on the Zodiacs for almost an hour, enjoying the beautiful scene of the cub curled up behind his mother. 

I then went back to the ship to pick up another group and came back quickly to the bears. This time, to my delight, they were awake and walking around, sniffing the air and looking content after a nice nap in the sun.

It was a glorious day indeed.