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Woodfjord – 08th June 2016

Mushamna is indeed still largely frozen – not really a surprise in early June, but remarkable considering this year’s ice conditions elsewhere. Just enough space for us to anchor safely for the night. In the evening, we can hear the mating calls of the seals inside the ship as it is very silent.

We explore Mushamna with or without snow shoes, according to taste. Without snow shoes, we stay near the shore, where the land is snow-free. Little mental excursions take us back into the Devonian, turning the beach into a geological open air museum. Then, a lonely walrus, quite obviously a male, attracts our attention as he is lying on a sandy spit, sleeping, scratching himself.

In the afternoon, the western coast of Woodfjord is the best place for us, due to the little westerly breeze. The area where Christiane Ritter („A woman in the polar night“) and her husband Hermann wanted to visit their nearest neighbour, Stockholm-Sven, a long time ago.

Stockholm-Sven was not in his hut on Reinsdyrflya. Neither was there an axe. Without an axe and the possibility to make firewood, the hut might have been a deadly trap for Christiane and Hermann, had he not insisted on returning quickly before upcoming bad weather would make the return trip over the ice impossible.

Life is so much easier these days, some wet feet during a snow shoe hike over the swamps of melting snow are nothing compared to that. Wet snow is part of everyday life in the arctic between winter and summer.

But the late afternoon clean up Svalbard session is almost a tough exercise. Crew and volunteers do not only clean the usual, smaller bits and pieces of fishing nets and other plastics from the beach, but then venture to remove a huge network of plastic ropes, that once may have been part of a very big fender. The plastic monster requires all our forces for some hours, and 110 HP from the zodiacs in addition to get it off the beach. Getting it on board is yet another task. Finally, the beast is on deck, and the last plastic warriors get their highly deserved dinner after midnight. Thanks to Sascha, Jana, Alexandra and Maike for their Dutch bread dinner 🙂

Gallery Woodfjord – 08th June 2016

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

This rope network is quite certainly the largest piece of plastic garbage that we Antiguans have ever removed from a Spitsbergen beach and hauled on deck. It will probably remain the biggest one, it was on the edge of our capabilities. But now a large volume and weight of plastic ropes is gone, dangerous stuff for wildlife, and Spitsbergen is a good bit cleaner.

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last modification: 2016-08-12 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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