''Expedition Svalbard II'' Voyage 7114 Day 6
Day 6 - July 8, 2011 - Woodfjord
By Claudia Holgate, Climatologist
Co-ordinates: 79º37’N, 12º57’W
Weather: Clear to partly cloudy
Air Temperature: 6.4C
Wind speed: 15km/h Northerly
Pressure: 1019 hPa
Today was a whale of a day, starting in the early morning with a sighting of a Blue Whale close to the ship. After watching it for a while Robin, our Expedition Leader, decided to move on when Kara radioed to say that she had seen a Fin Whale too. Not bad to see the two largest whales (and living animals) in one go.
Our day was designed to be an expedition day to see if we could find polar bears in the ice in Woodfjord, around the Andoya Islands in the far northern part of Spitsbergen. This area is around 80 degrees north and we regularly find polar bears around the Andoya Islands. So shortly after an early breakfast, I headed out with Daniil in one of the scout boats to see what we could find. We searched around one of the islands with no success. Eventually, at 9 am, we were back at the ship ready to take some guests out for a Zodiac cruise to see if we had any better luck. Well, as luck was on our side today, we did indeed find a bear wandering on the ice. After a quick radio call, most of the boats made their way to us, but by this stage the bear decided it was time for a siesta and there was no disturbing him. Later the Captain radioed to say he had seen a bear on the other side of the ice so we went exploring and we found not one but two bears who were far more active and on the hunt for a bearded seal, who realized the approaching danger just in time and managed to slither into the water. We watched the antics of the two bears for a while until lunch time, when we headed back to the ship for a quick buffet lunch before we were back out on the boats after the ship had repositioned further down the fjord.
This afternoon’s activities included another Zodiac cruise, this one to the very impressive Monaco Breen (Glacier). The run in was a very long nine-mile Zodiac ride, where we stopped occasionally to look at some birds and spectacular blue icebergs. My boat even had a rare Ivory Gull land just in front of the boat giving everyone a great view. After having a quick look at the glacier, we had to head back the nine miles we had just covered. The weather was good and there was almost no wind, so everyone enjoyed the adventure. When my second group came back, we had a great view of two Minke Whales quite close to the boats, as well as a Bearded Seal in the water, who was not bothered by us at all.
As we arrived back at the ship late, Recap & Briefing was cancelled and we had a cocktail party out on deck as we sailed out of the fjord. Well on the way out we saw another three bears, one of which was reasonably close and we had a really good sighting of him.
Tomorrow looks to be another busy day, but then every day on the Silver Explorer is filled to the brim with new and exciting experiences.
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