Day 2 - June 27, 2013 - En route to Bear Island, Svalbard
By Robin Aiello, Marine Biologist
Co-ordinates: N 72º24'44", E 20º10'39"
Weather: Bright skies
Air Temperature: 5ºC
Pressure: 1027 hPa
Wind: 3 knots
It was nice to wake up this morning to sunshine and calm seas. Today we spend a day at sea as we travel up to Bear Island – an isolated island south of Spitsbergen, Svalbard.
There were plenty of activities today to fill our time. It all started at 9:30am with Bridge Tours. About 30 guests visited us on the Bridge for a short introduction about the equipment and navigation of our beautiful ship. Then, at 10 am, Peter Damisch (in English) and Christian Walter (in German) gave simultaneous talks in separate venues, about the famous explorer Nansen and his experiences up here in the Arctic.
This lecture was followed by Richard Sidey’s lecture on Photographic Basics. Richard has worked with the Silver Explorer for many years and is an excellent photographer/videographer, and he shared some key tips with us on how to take better photos on this trip.
Just before lunch, we had some real excitement – Kara Weller, our Expedition Leader, came over the PA system and announced that two humpback whales, a mother with calf, and a pod of White-Beaked dolphins were ahead of the ship. Everyone grabbed their parkas and cameras and soon we were all out on the outer decks watching the feeding antics of these marine mammals. The pair of whales stayed close to the ship for about 30 minutes, and then moved on – and so did we – continuing our journey north.
After lunch we had the mandatory briefings that must be done before our first landing - AECO, Zodiac and destination briefings. The Silver Explorer belongs to the organisation AECO which sets out guidelines for tourism operators to follow while in Svalbard. It is essential that all guests know and understand these guidelines so that they are followed at all times.
After this briefing, we handed out rubber boots to those that did not bring their own. The Reception area was full of people trying on the boots, while the Expedition Team ran back and forth to the Mudroom grabbing boots of various sizes. What a commotion! But eventually we got everyone sorted and it was time for the afternoon tea and Team Trivia in the Panorama Lounge.
The final lecture of the day, at 5pm, was a plant lecture by Richard Pagen, one of our naturalists on the Expedition Team. Richard focused his talk on the adaptations that these plants have to survive in the tough cold, dry conditions of the Arctic.
Because it was the first full day onboard the Silver Explorer, Captain Adam Boczek hosted our Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Party and Dinner. It was nice to have the chance to mingle and meet many of the guests that I had not had a chance to talk with before.
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