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HomeArctic blog: Jan Mayen, Spitsbergen → Wal­rus-mad­ness on Mof­fen – 19th Sep­tem­ber 2015

Wal­rus-mad­ness on Mof­fen – 19th Sep­tem­ber 2015

Mof­fen is this small, for­bidden island north of Spits­ber­gen. Not much more than a gra­vel bank, a beach atoll around a lagoon whe­re wha­lers used to anchor in their days. The ent­rance to the lagoon does not exist any­mo­re today.

Mof­fen is known and pro­tec­ted becau­se of its wal­rus colo­ny, each sum­mer it is for­bidden to land the­re until mid sep­tem­ber. Good for tho­se last mohi­cans who are still around in the late sea­son. Espe­ci­al­ly when the wea­ther is as coope­ra­ti­ve as today. Calm air, calm water, the landing on the expo­sed island is a pie­ce of cake. Soon, we get a visit from some curious wal­rus­ses, and that is how a good part of the mor­ning goes. A group of them is swim­ming up and down the beach clo­se to us, some­ti­mes busy with them­sel­ves, some­ti­mes focus­sing their atten­ti­on on us, curious­ly coming out of the water and approa­ching us to an ama­zin­gly clo­se distance. Ano­ther big group, sure­ly around a hundred ani­mals, is res­t­ing on shore near the sou­thern tip of the island. Near­by, the­re is a wal­rus gra­vey­ard, whe­re they were slaugh­te­red in huge num­bers in ear­lier cen­tu­ries for their ivo­ry tusks, the blub­ber and the strong skin.

Pho­to Wal­rus-mad­ness on Mof­fen – 19th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 1/2


As we lea­ve Mof­fen, the­re are seve­ral big bags of pla­s­tic gar­ba­ge less on the island than befo­re. Among­st others, we have found an elec­tri­cal coo­ling box, may­be from the Eng­lish yacht that went on rocks north of Ytre Nor­skøya (may­be it was near­by Fug­le­san­gen, doesn’t mat­ter) and went down? The two sail­ors sur­vi­ved, but it was quite clo­se. And unneces­sa­ry, the shal­lows the­re are well char­ted.

Pho­to Wal­rus-mad­ness on Mof­fen – 19th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 2/2


Some hours later, we have rea­ched Lief­defjord. To our gre­at plea­su­re, we find a polar bear that is res­t­ing on the tun­dra on a small island, just occa­sio­nal­ly lif­ting its head, stan­ding up once just to lay down again soon. Cap­tain Joa­chim maneou­vres the Anti­gua ama­zin­gly clo­se to the shore. A beau­tiful encoun­ter, and as we lea­ve, the bear is lying and res­t­ing the very same way as when we came.

Pho­to Andoya­ne – 19th Sep­tem­ber 2015


We take the time for a litt­le late after­noon stroll on one of the neigh­bou­ring islands, and then we sail to a nice, pro­tec­ted bay to anchor for the night.



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last modification: 2016-09-22 · copyright: Rolf Stange