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Yearly Archives: 2015 − News & Stories

Wood­fjord – 5th July 2015

The lagoon in Mus­ham­na is a pie­ce of art by natu­re. A beau­tiful­ly cur­ved, nar­row gra­vel bar is sepa­ra­ting the lagoon from the fjord. The ent­rance is 10 met­res deep and hard­ly much wider. Ide­al to spend a shel­te­red night at anchor.

And to land in almost all kinds of wea­ther. Today it is com­ple­te­ly calm, not a pro­blem any­way. Still a lot of snow, but the land is invi­ting to walk around and explo­re.

But the landing came to an end after alre­a­dy a few minu­tes. The place was alre­a­dy occu­p­ied. This polar bear, which appeared out of nowhe­re just a few hundred met­res from us, it cle­ar­ly had the right of way.

What fol­lo­wed was quite incre­di­ble. We spent most of the day on board Anti­gua insi­de the lagoon, moving just a few hundred met­res here and the­re. The polar bear – a lady, equip­ped with a satel­li­te sen­der from the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te – wal­ked around and then laid down on the ice. A second bear came along and went over the ice to the fjord one, sca­ring it to death so it ran away so the water was splas­hing on the rot­ten ice.

Wood­fjord – 5th July 2015 – Pho­to Mus­ham­na


Later, a third bear came around the moun­tain in the south, an impres­si­ve male. He wal­ked past bear num­ber 2 on the ice of the lagoon, but they did not pay much atten­ti­on to each other. Mean­while, bear no 1 had dis­ap­peared to the south. Bears 2 and 3 wal­ked here and the­re over the ice and along the shore, much to our gre­at plea­su­re on board. So the sun­ny hours went quick­ly, one after the other.

Vel­komst­pyn­ten – 4th July 2016

How often do you have the chan­ce to go ashore on the north coast of Spits­ber­gen? Not in a well shel­te­red bay or fjord, but on a shore which is neigh­bou­ring the North Pole? Not too often. And when you have the oppor­tu­ni­ty, you have to use it.

The wha­lers did so alre­a­dy, loo­king out for wha­les and ice from the­se hills. Bro­ken pie­ces of clay pipes near an old, lar­ge cairn may well date back into the 17th cen­tu­ry. The land is still lar­ge­ly snow-cover­ed. Big snow­fields, wet, hea­vy snow. Best to make some detours to walk around them. So the kilo­me­t­res are adding up quick­ly.

Pho­to Vel­komst­pyn­ten – 4th July 2016


The coas­tal rocks sepa­ra­ting small bays, the hills, the who­le coun­try – ever­y­thing is red. Desert sand, more than 350 mil­li­on years old. Ero­ded debris of a moun­tain ran­ge washed into the sea ages ago.

Raud­fjord – 03rd Juli 2015

Raud­fjord: Fog lec­tu­re polar bear bird cliff polar fox trap­per hut snow reinde­er gra­ves sun beach silence cho­co­la­te polar bear ice fog

Raud­fjord – 03rd Juli 2015 – Pho­to Ali­ce­ham­na


The Nor­thwest: polar bear coun­try – 2nd July 2015

As yes­ter­day, I am sit­ting to wri­te my litt­le blog late in the evening. The­se days are so full, the land­scape in nor­thwes­tern Spits­ber­gen is so den­se­ly packed with so many things. So many islands whe­re one could go to have a look to see what is the­re. And you are glued to your bino­cu­lars here. Behind every point, on every slo­pe the­re might be a polar bear. And on one slo­pe, the­re was a polar bear, slee­ping on a snow field. On many bea­ches, the­re could be wal­rus­ses. And on a litt­le sker­ry, the­re were two wal­rus­ses. Which is quite unu­sual­ly. Nor­mal­ly, they are lying on bea­ches or ice floes, not on rocks. Someone said the­se ones were pro­ba­b­ly rai­sed by Har­bour seals. They like to lie on rocks.

It was a bit of wha­lers’ wea­ther in the­se old wha­ling waters. Grey, a bit win­dy, the occa­sio­nal bit of snow and rain in the air. In the late after­noon, the sun came almost out, cas­ting light on the litt­le pen­in­su­la whe­re Wal­de­mar and Sal­ly lift a long, long time ago in their lonely hut, which they had once built on a whaler’s gra­ve.

The Nor­thwest: polar bear coun­try – 2nd July 2015

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

We saw two more polar bears during the later evening, both making their way on steep, rocky slo­pes. The first one, equip­ped with a col­lar with satel­li­te tra­cker from the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te and thus obvious­ly a lady bear, was busy making hers­elf unpo­pu­lar among­st the owners of various birds’ nests on an island. The second one was stal­king a reinde­er for almost a kilo­met­re in Raud­fjord, befo­re it gave up.

Kongsfjord – 1st July 2015

It is late in the evening after a long day, so it won’t be a long blog ent­ry, alt­hough books could be writ­ten about the day. Alt­hough it is just the first full day, after a smooth start yes­ter­day, with a sun­ny, calm pas­sa­ge out of Isfjord.

Ny Åle­sund made the start, with the who­le lot from older and more recent sto­ries, the num­e­rous Bar­na­cle goo­se fami­lies with their litt­le chicks fee­ding on the tun­dra in the midd­le of the small sett­le­ment, a mor­ning full of varied impres­si­ons. In the after­noon, a first but deep dive into Spitsbergen’s arc­tic natu­re away from any civi­li­sa­ti­on or even traces of it. Brünich’s guil­l­emots and kit­ty­wa­kes at their bree­ding colo­ny at clo­se ran­ge, sur­roun­ded by colourful flowers. The fami­lies cin­que­foil, dra­ba, saxif­ra­ga, but­ter­cup and others are all pre­sent with aunts and uncles, nie­ces and nephews.

The Kong­s­ve­gen gla­cier had obvious­ly been busy recent­ly, deco­ra­ting the fjord with lots of ber­gy bits and some lar­ge ice­bergs, inclu­ding some very impres­si­ve spe­ci­mens. And a very impres­si­ve spe­ci­men of a wha­le is roun­ding the day of in grand style not far from Ny Åle­sund. A Blue wha­le cir­cling around, diving very regu­lar­ly – you could set the clock by it – for four to five minu­tes, then breathing three or four times, finis­hing the last breath by show­ing its migh­ty flu­ke. The­re must be ple­nty of food in the water, the depth meter shows a very colourful array of colours in the free water column.

Gal­lery – Kongsfjord – 1st July 2015

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

A lot f food for polar tra­vel­lers with a good appe­ti­te for arc­tic impres­si­ons.

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.


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.


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


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!


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