Svalbard: Arctic Wildlife

On Board 

MS Nordstjernen

The Greenland Sea

Svalbard

August 9, 2015

Hello,

Even the experienced guides had never seen such a sight!

A dead walrus?  Sure.  They had seen one before.  They had seen a polar bear feasting on the carcass.  They had seen a polar bear and her cub feasting at the scene.

But never before had they seen such a sight!

Never before had they seen two polar bears with their cubs at the same spot. 

Actually one mamma bear and her cub were at the side of the dead walrus while the other mamma bear and her baby bear waited their turn.

For those of us on board who had come to the Arctic to see a polar bear, this was the dream come true.

We were not so fortunate with whales.

At lunch one day, the women started to scream.  Just outside the dining room window and alongside our ship, a humpback whale made a couple of dives, its huge white and black fluke or rear fin almost horizontal with the sea as it dove.  With each dive, another scream of delight sounded through the dining room.  Of all the passengers, I think one lucky guy got the dramatic shot.

We did see large black bumps in the water, and in the distance the behemoths glistened almost white as their geysers of used air spouted up from the sea.

Walruses?   Yes, but from a distance.  Just above the Eightieth Parallel we approached an island with a walrus colony.   But the law prohibits getting any closer than 500 meters (.30 mile). 

Birds?  Here and there, in small groups or flying solo, diving or floating, or just basking on a small iceberg.  Perhaps you can identify them for me?

To celebrate the crossing of 80 Degrees North Latitude (the North Pole is 90 Degrees North), the crew treated us to a champagne toast.   Later the Chef and one of the ship’s officers prepared an on-deck BBQ!

In my enthusiasm to photograph as much wildlife as possible, I turned my camera lens on the “wildlife” on board ship.  And for my fellow passengers’ entertainment, I prepared a photo show that ran continuously on the ship’s video screen.

There’s wildlife aplenty in the Arctic.   You just have to know where to look.

Cheers!

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