Voyage Journal 7919 Day 9

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Day 9 - August 1, 2009 - Diskobukta, Edgeoya Island, Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic

By Rob Suisted, General Naturalist

Co-ordinates: 077°55.55’N 021°15.08’ E
Weather: Light overcast, little wind
Pressure: 1022hpa
Temperature: 7C
Wind: slight

After breakfast, the first two groups made it ashore at Diskobukta on Edgeoya Island. We set off in two groups; one for a long walk and climb, the other on a shorter hike. 

Diskobukta is a spectacular spot. The shale layered penne plain has been eroded by water to create a 100m deep chasm like gorge that is a favorite nesting place for Kittiwake gulls. The sheer cliffs are lined with thousands of nesting birds, and the air above teems with birds returning to, or leaving nests.

The first group set off up the hill to climb around and above the chasm for a fantastic view down to the other walkers below, heading into the chasm floor. A number of Arctic foxes were hunting and feeding around the bird colony. They’re hard at work putting on body condition, feeding young and caching supplies for winter survival at the moment.

The first groups finished their walks and the second two groups headed ashore. 10 minutes after the landing, a Polar Bear was spotted high on a ridge in the distance. Not a situation to be taken lightly, so an orderly retreat was ordered. With everyone safely back in Zodiac boats, we headed back to the ship early, sadly for some, as they didn’t get time for the close look at the chasm. 

The Prince Albert II lifted anchor and we set our course for Bear Island (Bjornoya), the southernmost island in the Svalbard Archipelago and tomorrow’s destination.

After another beautiful lunch, Robin Aiello presented a lecture on the adaptations of whales and dolphins. Later on, Head Sommelier Karolina, and Executive Chef Douglas hosted an interesting seminar about food and wine pairing.

Four humpback whales were spotted by guests just outside The Restaurant while we were eating our dinner. I was surprised that the ship didn’t keel over as everybody got up and went over to the port side windows to view. Hopefully this is a good sign for whale watching in the morning as we move into the Arctic front zone – the mixing of warm and cold-water currents that makes this area very rich in marine life.

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