Arctic Day 3

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Day 3 - June 18, 2013 -  Raudfjorden, Magdalenefjorden, Svalbard  

By Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Biologist

 

Co-ordinates: 79° 53´N, 11° 43´E
Weather: cloudy, in the afternoon rain
Air Temperature: 5° C

  

The morning was cloudy but calm outside the Raudfjorden, where the Silver Explorer stayed at anchor. The day was planned in the Chronicles as an Expedition day. The principle aim was to get into the ice in Raudfjorden and to look out for polar bears. Since early in the morning, the Expedition team was on the bridge scanning the surroundings for the enigmatic animal. Raudfjorden is one of the nicest fjords on the northwest side of Spitsbergen. Ten glaciers have calving fronts on the shore including the larger ones at the head of the fjord: Chauveaubreen and Raudfjordbreen, but today the pack ice in the fjord, which was blown in during the last few days from the north, was too heavy to get even close by. So the Captain maneuvered the vessel as much as possible into the ice and the Expedition Team together with 115 guests were looking out onto the ice not only searching for a white big animal but also enjoying the stunning view and landscape of the fjord.

After nearly 4.5 hours of search time, we had to leave the fjord area without spotting any polar bears. We instead had some excellent views of bearded seals lying on the ice. The Bridge Team did a fantastic job in bringing the ship as close as possible to the ice flow, where the seals were resting on.

At 11.00 during our repositioning to the afternoon landing site, a lecture of my colleague Luqui, our ornithologist on board, took place in the theater. He was talking about the birds that we will see on this voyage.

Shortly after the lecture finished I had a delicious lunch with guests from the United States chatting about the seals and polar bears.

At approximately 15.30, the MV Silver Explorer arrived in Magdalenefjord at her anchorage position. The plan for this afternoon was two landings; one at Gravneset and the other at Gullybukta. The two sites are just 6 minutes in distance on a Zodiac ride from each other. Gravneset is a cultural heritage site and one can find the rests of an old English whaler station from the 17th century and the gravesite has about 130 graves. On the other hand Gullybukta in the last few years has become a hauled out place for walruses. For our guests, this was an excellent opportunity to hear something about the history of Svalbard and also to see another enigmatic animal of this region.

My colleagues Peter and Christian did the interpretation and guiding on the historical site, whereas Kara and Robin guided the guests on the walrus site. This afternoon I was driving the Zodiac and shuttled the groups of guests from one site to the other. Luckily this time we had no polar bear on shore side but seven walruses to look at and admire. Fortunately the walruses were very active today and so our guests could get some good pictures of these animals, because walruses on pictures look like big brown sausages lying on the beach. After a long day on the northwestern side of Spitsbergen, guests enjoyed a wonderful dinner in The Restaurant looking forward for tomorrow and another adventure up here in the high Arctic; the home of the polar bear and walrus.

 

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