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Home → June, 2015

Monthly Archives: June 2015 − News & Stories


Glau­cous gulls: The popu­la­ti­on in Sval­bard is under pres­su­re

Rese­ar­chers of the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te repor­ted about a signi­fi­cant decli­ne of the glau­cous gull popu­la­ti­on on Bear Island, the most important bree­ding area for glau­cous gulls in Sval­bard and the Bar­ents Sea. During the past few deca­des a per­ma­nent decli­ne of the popu­la­ti­on was reco­gni­zed on the island. An exten­ded moni­to­ring shall now find out if this trend can be con­fir­med for other regi­ons of Sval­bard.

Bes­i­des fac­tors like food shor­ta­ge and cli­ma­tic chan­ges the rea­son for the decli­ne is more and more seen in the bird´s incre­a­sing con­ta­mi­na­ti­on with envi­ron­men­tal toxins (hea­vy metals, PCBs, fluo­ri­ne, …). The birds recei­ve envi­ron­men­tal toxins with their food and accu­mu­la­te them for examp­le in their brains and livers whe­re they affect the animal´s health. On Bear Island con­ti­nuous­ly dead and dying birds with a high con­ta­mi­na­ti­on were found. In pre­vious stu­dies Nor­we­gi­an rese­ar­chers found out that glau­cous gulls with a low con­ta­mi­na­ti­on sur­vi­ved with a rela­tively high rate of 91.5 % while only 40-50% of tho­se with a high con­ta­mi­na­ti­on sur­vi­ved the cur­rent sea­son (see also Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com news Glau­cous gulls threa­tened by envi­ron­men­tal toxins from March 2012). As pre­d­a­tors, stan­ding at the top of the food chain, glau­cous gulls also give a good indi­ca­ti­on for the con­di­ti­on of the eco­sys­tem they live in.

On the Nor­we­gi­an Red List of Threa­tened Spe­ci­es the glau­cous gull popu­la­ti­on in Sval­bard is cur­r­ent­ly lis­ted as ‘near threa­tened’ (‘nær truet’). If the alar­ming trend on Bear Island will be con­fir­med for the who­le of Sval­bard, the sta­tus might be upgraded to ‘end­an­ge­red’ (‘truet’). Obser­va­tions in Ice­land and Cana­da also docu­men­ted a signi­fi­cant decli­ne of the glau­cous gull popu­la­ti­on while the popu­la­ti­on in Green­land, Alas­ka and Rus­sia seems to be sta­ble. But for the­se are­as, and espe­cial­ly for Rus­sia, the data­ba­se is not suf­fi­ci­ent.

Glau­cous gull in Spits­ber­gen, the popu­la­ti­on ist under pres­su­re.

Eismoewe

Source: Nor­sk Polar­in­sti­tutt

Cros­sing to Ice­land – 25th-27th June 2015

(25th-27th June 2015) – Three days dif­fe­rent from tho­se on the way up. Of cour­se still a long time for other­wi­se non-oce­an-going peop­le who just want to get from A to B. The sailors amongst us have, howe­ver, a good num­ber of enjoya­ble miles under sai­les. Star­ting with moto­ring from Jan May­en, as it is initi­al­ly calm and the wind which is then com­ing up is blowing against us (as always … but not too hard). But then the wind turns east, the sails go up and we don’t need the engi­ne for good parts of the remai­ning way. The oce­an-going souls seem to be glued to the stee­ring wheel while we are making good speed of up to around 10 knots on the way sou­thwest. Under a blue, sun­ny sky! Two times, dol­phins come to visit the boat.

And we are fas­ter on the way up, going along­side in Ísaf­jörður on Satur­day mid day alrea­dy. The end of an inten­se, suc­cess­ful, good voya­ge. Thanks to all who were part of it, and good fur­ther tra­vels, home or onwards!

Gal­le­ry – Cros­sing to Ice­land – 25th-27th June 2015

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

For me, the next two days are the usu­al sequence of packing, flights, air­ports … a boring neces­si­ty, but soon life is going on in Spits­ber­gen, on board SV Anti­gua ☺

Fare­well Jan May­en – 24th June 2015

Packing tog­e­ther is never gre­at, but at least it all went smooth­ly, thanks to wind and waves or rather the absence of both. So we had time to cir­cum­na­vi­ga­te the island, pas­sing the gla­ciers on the north coast and final­ly Jan May­en offe­red a friend­ly fare­well with some glim­p­ses of the top of Bee­ren­berg.

Gal­le­ry – Fare­well Jan May­en – 24th June 2015

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Jan May­en tri­ath­lon – 23rd June 2015 – St. Hans

Today we took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to com­ple­te the Jan May­en tri­ath­lon. This inclu­des ascen­ding Bee­ren­berg, the famous Jan May­en naked swim­ming and the Kval­ross run.

We had done Bee­ren­berg the days befo­re, other­wi­se it might actual­ly have been a bit tight today, time-wise. So we star­ted the hap­py event with the naked swim­ming in Kval­ross­buk­ta. The rules are simp­le: without any clothes com­ple­te­ly under water, offi­cial­ly super­vi­sed by the sta­ti­on com­man­der, who had brought a life ring and the nur­se. You never know. The exer­cise was com­ple­ted by all par­ti­ci­pants to satis­fac­tion.

The Kval­ross run is not to be unde­re­sti­ma­ted: nine kilo­me­tres along the road, with several hills, from Kval­ross­buk­ta to the sta­ti­on, that can be qui­te a bit after the events of the pre­vious days. As I had done this for my part alrea­dy last year, I focus­sed on the pho­to­gra­phic docu­men­ta­ti­on of the event. I was qui­te hap­py with that.

A gre­at coin­ci­dence (or good plan­ning on Siggi’s behalf?) brought our last evening on the island tog­e­ther with the Scan­di­na­vi­an mid­sum­mer par­ty St. Hans. We had hard­ly finis­hed our spor­ti­ve pro­gram­me, when the Jan May­en sum­mer games were ope­ned in Båt­vi­ka near the sta­ti­on. Guests and hosts for­med teams to com­pe­te in various disci­pli­nes inclu­ding rope pul­ling, net­ball thro­wing and so on. The pile of drift­wood pre­pa­red for the fire show­ed that things were taken very serious­ly on this island. It was defi­ni­te­ly the big­gest fire wit­hin hund­reds of miles, and any pas­sing ship or air­pla­ne would have repor­ted a vol­ca­nic erup­ti­on.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Enjoy­ing various goo­dies from the buf­fet and a com­ple­te pig from the grill, visi­tors and sta­ti­on crew enjoy­ed a lovely evening and have various chats about life on Jan May­en and in gene­ral, some­thing that was enjoy­ed by ever­y­bo­dy as the impres­si­on was. Many thanks to the com­man­der and crew of the Jan May­en sta­ti­on for a gre­at fare­well evening!

Slett­fjel­let, Kval­ross­buk­ta, Kval­ros­sen – 22nd/23rd June 2015

(22nd/23rd June 2015) – After the events of the pre­vious days we clear­ly deser­ved a cal­mer start into the day. Only our Aus­tri­an Pas­cal went off for a long hike, a pil­grimage to the remains of the Aus­tri­an sta­ti­on im Maria Musch­buk­ta, from the first Inter­na­tio­nal Polar Year (1882/83). Pro­bab­ly to fly the Aus­tri­an colours once again.

The others opt for smal­ler walk in the sur­roun­dings of Kval­ross­buk­ta or for a medi­um-sized walk towards some cra­ters and smal­ler moun­tains, which do, howe­ver, not pro­tru­de through the clouds, though.

Gal­le­ry – Slett­fjel­let, Kval­ross­buk­ta, Kval­ros­sen – 22nd/23rd June 2015

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

The evening is sur­pri­sin­gly cosy, much more than usu­al for Jan May­en stan­dards, with a fire on the beach and good Ice­lan­dic cui­sine chez Hau­kur.

Bee­ren­berg – 20th-21st June 2015

(20th-21st June 2015) – Bee­ren­berg – this famous, infa­mous moun­tain, towe­ring 2277 metres abo­ve the sea in the midd­le of the north Atlan­tic, with its gla­cier-crow­ned cra­ter sum­mit, is a peak that one should be care­ful to hope for. Too much has to fit, too many fac­tors that you just can’t con­trol, main­ly the wea­ther, of cour­se. How many times did I wri­te emails to peop­le who were thin­king about this trip empha­si­zing they shouldn’t be focus­sed on Bee­ren­berg too much. And qui­te right so. This would main­ly incre­a­se the risk for frus­tra­ti­on. Nevertheless, be pre­pa­red. The­re might sud­den­ly be an open door.

But of cour­se, most of us here have got this desi­re. And for me, it was this ima­gi­na­ti­on of this peak that made me search for opti­ons some years ago, which resul­tet in the trips with Sig­gi and his boat Auro­ra. So, yes: I want to get up the­re, too.
Today might be the day. Ever­ything is loo­king good, star­ting with the wea­ther fore­cast. It is sup­po­sed to be most­ly calm for several days, and the low cloud lay­er that is covering Jan May­en should give way to the blue sky as soon as one has reached an alti­tu­de of some hund­red metres, accord­ing to the Nor­we­gi­an meteo­ro­lo­gists. This could be our win­dow of oppor­tu­ni­ty, our gol­den moment.

And ever­y­bo­dy in this group who wants to join the climb is fit and expe­ri­en­ced. There’s eight of us who dream of the Bee­ren­berg sum­mit. All of us have got simi­lar expe­ri­ence from arc­tic or alpi­ne envi­ron­ments. You should not unde­re­sti­ma­te Bee­ren­berg. The distan­ces, the alti­tu­de, the ter­rain … it is easy to think, it can’t be much of a pro­blem, I have been to 3000 metres in the Alps. No, Bee­ren­berg is more deman­ding, alt­hough 2277 metres don’t sound like much.

We have got yet ano­t­her advan­ta­ge: sta­ti­on com­man­der Vig­go, who would love to join us if duty was not cal­ling else­whe­re, offers us a very wel­co­me ride to the north lagoon, which saves us from a hike of 13 kilo­me­tres with full lug­ga­ge, saving important ener­gy reser­ves that we will need later. Not a big deal for Vig­go, but a huge advan­ta­ge for us, that we could never have asked or hoped for – such are the rules here.

(more…)

Jan May­en

Admit­ted­ly, a cros­sing 3.5 days is a new nega­ti­ve record. Three days would have been nor­mal, and even less with a bit of luck.

But for the moment ever­y­bo­dy seems to be hap­py to have solid ground under their feet again. Soon ever­ything is on shore and car­ri­ed up the black sand beach, tents are put up and slee­ping bags rol­led out. We have cho­sen the per­fect moment for our lan­ding, as it turns out: as soon as the tents are more or less stan­ding, strong gusts are fal­ling from the lava-black, moss-green, fog-grey moun­tains, so we hur­ry up to car­ry tons of stones and drift­wood beams tog­e­ther to secu­re ever­ything.

Then the wind is cal­ming down again, and after some refresh­ments ever­y­bo­dy is going for some explo­ra­ti­on, some first litt­le excur­si­ons into this new envi­ron­ment. Actual­ly, Jan May­en can make a rather inhos­pi­ta­ble first impres­si­on, with low clouds as today. With Kval­ros­sen, we have got a nice moun­tain right next door, with some impres­si­ve coas­tal rock stacks, and this migh­ty beach Hau­gen­stran­da with its end­less amounts of drift­wood. More than enough stuff to wan­der and drift around with feet, eyes, thoughts and came­ra for a while.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Later, the Nor­we­gi­an sta­ti­on com­man­der shows up. He also brings their nur­se, just in case, pro­bab­ly. Vig­go is air for­ce office and sur­pri­ses us plea­s­ant­ly with his ener­ge­tic cha­rac­ter. Not too long befo­re he gets a chain­saw out to cut some fire­wood for us, and he has also brought got some goo­dies to eat and to drink – a pro­mi­sing start for a very fine neigh­bour­hood!

Some­whe­re in the midd­le of nowhe­re bet­ween Ice­land and Jan May­en

We left Isaf­jör­dur on Mon­day evening, and today it is … let me think … Thurs­day. Had the wind been a bit more friend­ly, we should see Jan May­en now, but as it was, we still have about 150 nau­ti­cal miles bet­ween us and the island. The wind was not too strong (that was the good news), but exact­ly against us (that was the bad news). That did not make us fas­ter or life on board more com­for­ta­ble.

So 3 days will soon have gone. On the first day, the fee­ling of latent sea­sick­ness was never far away, and I was hap­py that I had alrea­dy got some warm-up exer­cise on SV Anti­gua some weeks ago. Others who did not enjoy this advan­ta­ge, have … – no, no fur­ther details.

The wind has cal­med down con­si­der­ab­ly last night, and our speed has incre­a­sed. Jan May­en is get­ting clo­ser and sea sick­ness seems to be a mat­ter of the past for the moment. Bre­ak­fast is cer­tain­ly enjoy­ing incre­a­sed popu­la­ri­ty today.

As nobo­dy can tell when peop­le are able and wil­ling to eat some­thing, the­re are no set times for meals here at sea. Whenever you feel hungry, you go and get some­thing. Bread and Müs­li are always avail­ab­le, and in the after­noon Sig­gi is pre­pa­ring some­thing hot, which in the last two days invol­ved pas­ta and red sau­ce, a hear­ty mee­ting of Ita­ly and Mexi­co, good stuff. But as ever­y­bo­dy comes (or not) when he or she feels like it, you don’t real­ly meet peop­le the­se days. Some lea­ve their bunks only when they real­ly can’t avoid it. Shared acti­vi­ties around the table are not an opti­on, emer­gen­cy exits need to be avail­ab­le for almost ever­yo­ne at any time. You don’t want to play cards with a bucket on the table, serious­ly. So at the moment ever­y­bo­dy is living a life on his own, enjoy­ing or suf­fe­ring, rea­ding, lis­tening to some music or a con­ver­sa­ti­on here and the­re. Sailor Franz (we know him from Arc­ti­ca II, last August) spends most of the time on the stee­ring wheel. Other than that, the who­le spec­trum is repre­sen­ted. From a young Ame­ri­can cou­p­le who didn’t know that Jan May­en exis­ted until they met Sig­gi a cou­p­le of years ago to a Ger­man who has a map of Jan May­en on the wall sin­ce he was 12. So for some a long-time dream will come true now.

Enough for now. Con­si­de­ring that not much has hap­pen­ed so far, I have actual­ly writ­ten a lot.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

I won’t take the lap­top ashore on Jan May­en, so most likely the­re will be silence for a good week. We will see. Fin­gers cros­sed.

Polar bear eats dol­phin: nor­mal or not?

Pho­tos are cur­r­ent­ly cir­cu­la­ting in media that show how a polar bear is eating the car­cass of a White-bea­ked dol­phin. Both arti­cles and comments that come with the­se pho­tos are rea­son for some exten­ded comments on the event.

The first obser­va­ti­on was made in April 2014 by Jon Aars, polar bear rese­ar­cher in the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te, and his sci­en­tists, in Raudfjord, whe­re they found a polar bear that was eating a dead White-bea­ked dol­phin. They had not obser­ved how exact­ly the dol­phin had died. In the fol­lowing time up to the sum­mer, several other bears were seen eating more dol­phins, but all fur­ther obser­va­tions rela­te to the same event in the same area.

White-bea­ked dol­phins are com­mon in the Bar­ents Sea inclu­ding Spits­ber­gen waters, but tend to stay at open sea, away from coas­tal waters, and are accord­in­gly not often seen. This con­tri­bu­tes to the wide­ly belie­ved impres­si­on that the­re are no dol­phins in the Arc­tic. This is not true. The state­ment that their “sud­den” pre­sence the­re has to be lin­ked to cli­ma­te chan­ge is obvious­ly wrong, they have been the­re alrea­dy for a long time, without any link to the pre­sent cli­ma­te chan­ge. The­re are, howe­ver, obser­va­tions of White-bea­ked dol­phins in fjords.

It is safe to assu­me that a group of White-bea­ked dol­phins was trap­ped by drift ice in Raudfjord that was blown in the­re by nort­her­ly winds during the days befo­re the first obser­va­ti­on was made. Insi­de the fjord, the dol­phins were for­ced to sur­face regu­lar­ly at small holes in the ice to breath. The­re, they are easy prey for polar bears, who often hunt seals in a very simi­lar way. Polar bears can kill seals instant­ly by hit­ting them with the paw or bit­ing them into the head. The­re is now rea­son why they should not be able to do the same with dol­phins, which are of simi­lar size, once they are for­ced to sur­face in ice simi­lar­ly to seals.

Polar bears are very well known as oppor­tu­nistic fee­ders, which means they will eat almost anything they come across as long as they can get it down. It is no sur­pri­se that they take dol­phins when they can get hold of them. It would actual­ly be very stran­ge if they didn’t.

It is cer­tain­ly true that polar bears do usual­ly not eat dol­phins. This is due to the simp­le fact that dol­phins nor­mal­ly stay in open water, whe­re polar bears are not able to catch them.

If it is now sta­ted that polar bears, who can’t hunt their usu­al prey (seals) now becau­se of cli­ma­te chan­ge, are for­ced to chan­ge to dol­phins, which – again due to cli­ma­te chan­ge – have moved fur­ther north, the­re are obvious­ly several very dif­fi­cult, if not plain­ly wrong, assump­ti­ons invol­ved. The obser­va­ti­on rather means that man has not yet seen ever­ything that occa­sio­nal­ly hap­pens in natu­re, espe­cial­ly in very remo­te are­as in dif­fi­cult sea­sons and with ani­mals which are very dif­fi­cult to fol­low. Espe­cial­ly when it comes to qui­te rare events.

Polar bear sci­en­tist Jon Aars is quo­ted say­ing that White-bea­ked dol­phins may beco­me an important food source for a smal­ler num­ber of spe­cia­li­zed polar bears. This lacks an explana­ti­on how the­se spe­cia­li­zed hun­ters should get hold of tho­se dol­phins on a more or less regu­lar basis, at least more than during a once in a life­time occa­si­on due to rare cir­cum­s­tan­ces. Con­si­de­ring this and the fact that this is, so far, based on only one obser­ved event, it seems a some­what far-reaching hypo­the­sis. (The­re is a num­ber of pho­tos taken on several oppor­tu­nities, but all of them show the same group of polar bears fee­ding on the same group of dead dol­phins in the same area).

Con­clu­si­on: this is cer­tain­ly a rare event and an even more rare obser­va­ti­on, which is, howe­ver, by no means necessa­ri­ly lin­ked to cli­ma­te chan­ge, but due to an unusu­al con­stel­la­ti­on of cir­cum­s­tan­ces.

A polar bear fee­ding on a White-bea­ked dol­phin. Nor­thwest Spits­ber­gen, July 2014 © Samu­el Blanc.

Polar bear eats dolphin

Source: Polarresearch.net

Ice­land

10 short days later – war­ming up under the sun of Sax­o­ny and get­ting rea­dy befo­re depar­tu­re today to Ice­land. Hard to belie­ve while I am sit­ting in tro­pi­cal sunshi­ne even here in Reykja­vik that one of the poten­ti­al­ly toughest trips of the sea­son is just about to start. Tomor­row we will start in Isaf­jör­dur with Sigurður Jóns­son and his good polar-pro­of boat Auro­ra to Jan May­en. Three days at open sea, but the wea­ther fore­cast loo­ks qui­te ok, and the sea should be rea­son­ab­ly calm.

I am high­ly curious what the next days will bring. I do cer­tain­ly have respect: the days on a small boat across a big, very open sea, the wild island Jan May­en and the many kilo­me­tres that we will hike the­re … will we have the wea­ther to climb Bee­ren­berg? We will see. It will defi­ni­te­ly be exci­ting and beau­ti­ful in any case. I am loo­king for­ward to the migh­ty beaches cove­r­ed with immense amounts of drift­wood, bizar­re vol­ca­nic land­s­capes, colour­ful mos­ses and lichens on black lava rocks …

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

I will pro­bab­ly not be able to send pho­tos to the blog from the trip befo­re I am back in Ice­land in 2 weeks, as the satel­li­te-based mail soft­ware does not sup­port attach­ments at the time being. But that will come in late June. And on Jan May­en, I won’t spend a lot of time with the lap­top any­way!

Noor­der­licht: last sea­son as “ship in the ice”

SV Noor­der­licht, the two mast sai­ling ship ori­gi­nal­ly built in Ger­ma­ny as fireship Kalk­grund and in Dut­ch owners­hip a regu­lar and beau­ti­ful sight in Spits­ber­gen waters for many years now, is known to many as the “ship in the ice”.

When the ice sett­led in Tem­pel­fjord, Noor­der­licht was par­ked the­re and fro­zen in inten­tio­nal­ly. As soon as the ice was strong enough, the ship could be visi­ted and tou­rists could spend a night on a ship in the ice, to enjoy an atmo­s­phe­re that remin­ded one of Nansen’s ship Fram during her gre­at ice drift across the arc­tic oce­an in 1893-1896. A bit shor­ter and less dan­ge­rous, but the fee­ling was the­re. Noor­der­licht‘s first sea­son as ship in the ice was in 2002, and sin­ce then, near 7000 over­night guests have enjoy­ed this uni­que expe­ri­ence. Due to per­mit restric­tions, the ship was not open for indi­vi­du­al tou­rists, but only tho­se who came as orga­ni­zed groups with gui­des. It was often visi­ted by groups who came by dog sledge.

The Noor­der­licht crew has the desi­re to explo­re some­thing new and has sche­du­led sai­ling in north Nor­way in the spring 2016, so the ship will not be back in Tem­pel­fjord.

The tour ope­ra­tor behind the ship in the ice con­cept, Base­camp Spits­ber­gen, is now loo­king of an alter­na­ti­ve, so the sto­ry of the ship in the ice may con­ti­nue with ano­t­her ves­sel. It will, howe­ver, be dif­fi­cult to replace Noor­der­licht.

Click here for some 360 degree pan­ora­mas from Noor­der­licht as “ship in the ice”.

Noor­der­licht as “ship in the ice” in Tem­pel­fjord.

Noorderlicht in Tempelfjord: ship in the ice

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten (22/2015)

Lon­gye­ar­by­en air­port: run­ning out of fuel

The air­port at Lon­gye­ar­by­en, Sval­bard luft­havn, is run­ning out of fuel. New kero­si­ne is orde­red and com­ing up by ship, but this takes some time. Mean­while, fuel is ratio­ned. Poli­ce and res­cue ser­vices have got prio­ri­ty, while air­lines are asked to refu­el in main­land Nor­way as much as pos­si­ble.

As a result, direct flights from Lon­gye­ar­by­en to Oslo may be for­ced to make an extra stop in Trom­sø for refu­el­ling, which results in delay­ed arri­vals, as this aut­hor pain­ful­ly expe­ri­en­ced last week.

The sup­ply ship is to come next week, and then all pla­nes can refu­el again in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

A king­dom for a jer­rycan! Sval­bard luft­havn is run­ning out of fuel.

Longyearbyen airport

Quel­le: NRK

New Sys­sel­man­nen: Kjers­tin Askholt

Kjers­tin Askholt will be the new Sys­sel­man­nen på Sval­bard from 01 Octo­ber. The Sys­sel­man­nen is the hig­hest repre­sen­ta­ti­ve of the Nor­we­gi­an government in Sval­bard and is appoin­ted (not elec­ted) for 3 years. This time, the­re were 7 app­li­cants, as usu­al most­ly high-ran­king poli­ce offi­cers or the juri­di­cal admi­nis­tra­ti­on.

Kjers­tin Askholt has been invol­ved with the admi­nis­tra­ti­on of the Nor­we­gi­an polar are­as wit­hin the Minis­try of Jus­ti­ce sin­ce 2003 and is accord­in­gly expe­ri­en­ced in rele­vant mat­ters. She has announ­ced to empha­si­ze gene­ral con­ti­nui­ty and a con­ti­nuous­ly good rela­ti­ons­hip with the Rus­si­an neigh­bours in Bar­ents­burg. The­re are chal­len­ges in both, as the dif­fi­cult situa­ti­on of the coal indus­try, gro­wing tou­rism and the rela­ti­ons­hip with the Rus­si­ans is usual­ly good in Spits­ber­gen but inter­na­tio­nal­ly cur­r­ent­ly obvious­ly dif­fi­cult, which may reflect on the local dia­lo­gue as well.

Kjers­tin Askholt will be the second woman in the posi­ti­on of the Sys­sel­man­nen. The first one was Ann-Kris­tin Olsen, who was the boss on Skjæ­rin­ga from 1995 to 1998. Skjæ­rin­ga is the part of Lon­gye­ar­by­en whe­re the Sysselmannen’s office is loca­ted and a com­mon­ly used local term.

Sys­sel­man­nen from Octo­ber: Kjers­tin Askholt. © Pho­to: Sys­sel­man­nen.

Sysselmannen ab Oktober: Kjerstin Askholt

Source: Sys­sel­man­nen

Isfjord, Lon­gye­ar­by­en

This final day show­ed that win­ter still had the land in Isfjord in its firm grip, more so than fur­ther south. In Bellsund, we had enjoy­ed easy walks over snow-free tun­dra and even the views of some first, ear­ly flowers (Pur­p­le saxif­ra­ge). Here in Isfjord, the land is lar­ge­ly under deep snow down to sea level. And whe­re the tun­dra is snow-free, the­re are most­ly birds sit­ting – good rea­sons to keep excur­si­ons short at the time being. Nevertheless, very plea­sant stays on the arc­tic tun­dra and good round views over outer Isfjord.

It was not exact­ly a com­ple­te sur­pri­se that the­re was still a lot of ice in the bays, so we had to make do with views of a con­si­derable distance of the gla­cier front in Borebuk­ta. But who cared after ever­ything that the last days had given us?

After a final, short cros­sing of Isfjord, we went along­side in the port of Lon­gye­ar­by­en and thus finis­hed the trip. Well, not yet – the swell was qui­te unplea­sant, so soon we moved out again and drop­ped the anchor once more. Then it was time for a warm fare­well with ever­y­bo­dy.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

To my gre­at plea­su­re, a lar­ge deli­very of books also finis­hed its trip on this day when it was moved onto dry arc­tic ground in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Always a gre­at and important event! I’d like to thank ever­y­bo­dy who has given a hand with the books on their way from nor­the­as­tern Ger­ma­ny to Lon­gye­ar­by­en!

Prins Karls For­land, Bar­ents­burg

Today it was time to make friends with some of Spitsbergen’s inha­bi­tants. We did so on Prins Karls For­land and in Bar­ents­burg.

The For­landsund was at home. Qui­te lazy, but one impres­si­ve wal­rus came slow­ly rol­ling out of the water, fee­ding the eyes and len­ses of hap­py tou­rists.

Bar­ents­burg tur­ned out to be not just a strong visu­al con­trast, but also a very infor­ma­ti­ve les­son about Spits­ber­gen histo­ry and poli­tics. And a chan­ce to tas­te the local beer. To a good trip – na sdar­o­wje!

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

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