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Monthly Archives: April 2013 − News & Stories

Spits­ber­gen pan­ora­ma pho­to­gra­phy

The ongo­ing arc­tic win­ter sea­son has, so far, tur­ned out to be very pro­duc­ti­ve from a pho­to­gra­phic per­spec­ti­ve. Next to a high num­ber of con­ven­tio­nal images, more than 50 360 degree pan­or­amic shots have been taken and publis­hed so far during a cou­p­le of weeks. The­se pho­tos give the impres­si­on to stand in the midd­le of the land­s­cape, which can be moved on the screen to all direc­tions. This is the begin­ning of a pro­ject which aims at a more com­pre­hen­si­ve docu­men­ta­ti­on of land­s­capes all over the Sval­bard archi­pe­la­go.

The pan­ora­ma images can be seen free of any char­ge on this web­site, eit­her through a map which sorts the pan­ora­mas geo­gra­phi­cal­ly, accord­ing to whe­re they were taken. Or in the tra­vel reports/photo gal­le­ry sec­tion. Enjoy!

The yel­low dots indi­ca­te the loca­ti­ons whe­re pan­ora­ma images are avail­ab­le so far. Click here to view the map with the links..

Spitsbergen-Panorama - Map

Spits­ber­gen-tou­rism: growth in cer­tain parts

Tou­rism in Spits­ber­gen is on the growth in cer­tain parts. Espe­cial­ly the num­ber of lar­ge crui­se ship pas­sen­gers has incre­a­sed signi­fi­cant­ly from 24,000 (2011) to 42,000 (2012). The figu­res had drop­ped signi­fi­cant­ly in the years of the cri­sis fol­lowing 2007.

The num­ber of over­nights in hotels in Lon­gye­ar­by­en has been more or less sta­ble for a cou­p­le of years, ran­ging bet­ween 83,000 and 89,000. Com­pa­red to ear­ly 2012, the hotel busi­ness is cur­r­ent­ly qui­te hap­py. One important rea­son is said to be the air­line Nor­we­gi­an, which star­ted to fly to Lon­gye­ar­by­en again recent­ly. The com­pe­ti­ti­on with SAS has led to more afford­a­ble seats on flights to Lon­gye­ar­by­en, an important bot­t­len­eck for almost all tou­rism in Sval­bard.

The num­bers of tho­se ven­tu­ring out into remo­ter parts on their own has always been fluc­tua­ting to some degree, bet­ween 400 and 750, without any clear trend. The same goes for snow mobi­le tou­rism, which depends on the dura­ti­on of the sea­son, which again depends on the wea­ther in late April and ear­ly May and is accord­in­gly impos­si­ble to pre­dict.

Such and simi­lar figu­res can be read in the tou­rism sta­tis­tics, recent­ly publis­hed by the Sys­sel­man­nen.

“Cos­ta Magi­ca”, 2009 in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Until then, with 3400 pas­sen­gers the big­gest the big­gest crui­se ship in Spits­ber­gen.

Spitsbergen-tourism: growth in certain parts: Costa Magica

Spring in Spits­ber­gen

The arc­tic spring is just around the cor­ner: signs of war­mer days are more and more visi­ble even in the high arc­tic. No darkness any­mo­re sin­ce ear­ly April, and the mid­ni­ght sun is offi­cial­ly shi­ning in Lon­gye­ar­by­en sin­ce yes­ter­day (April 20). The first birds, inclu­ding Snow bun­tings and Litt­le auks, have retur­ned to their bree­ding are­as.

The next days are even sup­po­sed to be qui­te warm, around zero degrees, but the fore­cast is pro­mi­sing tem­pe­ra­tures well below free­zing again later – let’s hope they are right. But a warm spell in mid April fol­lo­wed by col­der tem­pe­ra­tures until ear­ly or mid May is qui­te nor­mal.

The ice con­di­ti­ons are also more “nor­mal” again than last year. The east coast is packed with den­se drift ice or even fast ice. The drift ice is also com­ing clo­ser and clo­ser to the north coast.

Ptar­mi­gan on ice­berg. Strict­ly spea­king, the ptar­mi­gan is no sym­bol for the spring, as it is the only bird to spend the win­ter in Spits­ber­gen.


Once again polar bear shot in self defence

After a polar bear had alrea­dy been shot in self defence in late March, a simi­lar inci­dent occur­red only a few weeks later in Isbuk­ta on the sou­thern east coast of Spits­ber­gen. Two per­sons ski­ing Spits­ber­gen „på langs“ (the who­le north-south distance of the main island) were cam­ping on the ice in Isbuk­ta when a bear came near and tur­ned out to be impos­si­ble to sca­re away by noi­se and other means. The two felt threa­tened and shot the bear.

The bear was young and with a weight of 119 kg eit­her not ful­ly grown or not well fed or a com­bi­na­ti­on of both.

As the case from March, the inci­dent will rou­ti­nely be inves­ti­ga­ted by the local poli­ce (Sys­sel­man­nen). Polar bears are com­ple­te­ly pro­tec­ted in Spits­ber­gen and may only be shot in self defence. The Sys­sel­man­nen has alrea­dy men­tio­ned that the cir­cum­s­tan­ces point towards a case of legal self defence.

Polar bear on the east coast of Spits­ber­gen.

polar bear shot - polar bear on the east coast of Spitsbergen.

Source: Sys­sel­man­nen

Search-and-res­cue ope­ra­ti­ons in Spits­ber­gen: slight incre­a­se, but altog­e­ther nor­mal

Sys­sel­man­nen and local Red Cross have docu­men­ted a slight incre­a­se in the num­bers of search-and-res­cue ope­ra­ti­ons (SAR) in Spits­ber­gen. The num­ber has recent­ly been near 80 per year, inclu­ding evacua­tions of crew mem­bers from fishing ves­sels. The­re are cases whe­re the res­cue ser­vices are cal­led in, as it seems, situa­tions whe­re it should not have been necessa­ry, such as the recent case of two ski tra­vel­lers who had com­ple­ted less than 10 % of their inten­ded rou­te, but were too exhaus­ted to con­ti­nue even in good con­di­ti­ons. The Sys­sel­man­nen reminds ever­y­bo­dy of the impor­t­ance of good pre­pa­ra­ti­on and their own respon­si­bi­li­ty for indi­vi­du­al safe­ty.

Altog­e­ther, howe­ver, the use of SAR capa­ci­ties is well wit­hin the frame of what they have been cal­cu­la­ted and estab­lis­hed for. The inclu­des the recent Eas­ter wee­kend, when tra­di­tio­nal­ly a lot of peop­le tra­vel in the field. This is also due to the good wea­ther con­di­ti­ons.

Poten­ti­al major acci­dents which invol­ve a lar­ger num­ber of per­sons remain a worry. Local SAR capa­ci­ties are not suf­fi­ci­ent for such major acci­dents.

SAR-heli­co­p­ter of the Nor­we­gi­an coast guard during an exer­cise in Spits­ber­gen.

SAR operations Spitsbergen - SAR-helicopter

Source: Sys­sel­man­nen

Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com-news: cur­r­ent­ly more pho­tos than news

The fre­quen­cy of Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com-news postings is cur­r­ent­ly a bit redu­ced, becau­se the aut­hor is cur­r­ent­ly most­ly in the field in Spits­ber­gen. As a result, the­re is a lar­ge num­ber of recent pho­tos being pos­ted. Important news will be pos­ted any­way, but pos­si­b­ly with minor delays.

An evening at Negri­breen on the east coast of Spits­ber­gen. In this wea­ther, we spend as much time out­side as we can. The com­pu­ter has to wait.

Negribreen, east coast of Spitsbergen.

Polar bear shot while clim­bing through a win­dow into a hut

On March 24, a polar bear was shot while it tried to enter a hut through the win­dow. The hut was used by a cou­p­le from Lon­gye­ar­by­en, who tried to sca­re the bear away with noi­se and by thro­wing items at it. When this tur­ned out to be unsuc­cess­ful, the bear was shot at short distance with a revol­ver.

The inci­dence hap­pen­ed in Hyt­tevi­ka, an old trapper’s hut on the west coast north of Horn­sund. The cou­p­le went the­re from Lon­gye­ar­by­en by snow mobi­le for the wee­kend. Both are con­si­de­red local­ly very expe­ri­en­ced out­door per­sons.

The case is rou­ti­nely inves­ti­ga­ted by the local poli­ce (Sys­sel­man­nen). Polar bears are com­ple­te­ly pro­tec­ted in Spits­ber­gen and may only be shot in self defence. The aut­ho­ri­ties have alrea­dy made known that the cir­cum­s­tan­ces seem to indi­ca­te a case of legal self defence.

The case recei­ved some cri­ti­cism during the fol­lowing deba­te regar­ding the poten­ti­al use of pep­per spray, which is often used for examp­le in North Ame­ri­ca to sol­ve simi­lar con­flicts without loss of human or ani­mal life. In Spits­ber­gen, howe­ver, the local aut­ho­ri­ties have offi­cial­ly decla­red that they do not sup­port the use of pep­per spray for self defence against polar bears. The owner of this web­site and cur­rent aut­hor means that pep­per­spray is cer­tain­ly not sui­ta­ble for stop­ping a bear that it vigo­rous­ly attacking in open ter­rain, but may well be used suc­cess­ful­ly from the rela­ti­ve safe­ty of a hut or even a tent to save the lives of bears and humans ali­ke. A bear thus sca­red away is unli­kely to go near a hut again.

This was the first case of a polar bear being shot sin­ce the let­hal attack in Tem­pel­fjord in August 2011.

The area of Hyt­tevi­ka from a safe alti­tu­de, one day after the bear had been shot.

Polar bear shot - West coast of Spitsbergen, the area of Hyttevika.

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Acci­dent in coal mine in Bar­ents­burg

An acci­dent has hap­pen­ed today (April 04) in the coal mine in the Rus­si­an sett­le­ment Bar­ents­burg. A worker was kil­led by a fal­ling block. The Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ties are cur­r­ent­ly inves­ti­ga­ting the inci­dent.

Old mine ent­ran­ce in Bar­ents­burg.

accident Barentsburg: Mine entrance, Barentsburg.

Source: Sys­sel­man­nen


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