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Home* Triplogs with photo galleriesArctic blog: Jan Mayen, Spitsbergen → Storøya & Kvitøya – 23rd July 2016

Storøya & Kvitøya – 23rd July 2016

We were already far north and the weather was on our side. So we set course around Nordaustland and to Spitsbergen’s remotest areas. It turned out a day not to be forgotten. It started with calm seas, no wind and sunshine. The wide icecap of Nordaustland was glittering in the sun on starboardside, the smaller Storøya, also largely covered by an ice cap with a typical hourglass profile. North of it, some square kilometres of ice-free, barren land.

But it was not uninhabited. It did not take long until we found the first polar bear. It was not to be the last one for today. To be honest, I lost the overview in the end, we saw something like 13 or 14 polar bears on Storøya. Some were just sleeping, others walking around on the shore, some chewing on bones of a whale that must have stranded here some time ago. An amazing spectacle, which I can’t describe in all detail now, it would take a lot of time. But we spent an unforgettable morning in their near neighbourhood, watching them from the Zodiacs, how they were resting near the shore, walking around, playing with each other, occasionally curiously coming towards us, even swimming into our direction … stunning, unforgettable.

Finally, the bears went for a siesta and so did we, all those impressions needed to settle down, be processed and stored. Meanwhile, we set course on Kvitøya, Spitsbergen’s remotest island. A good 30 miles, calm hours, a chance to relax a bit.

Gallery Storøya & Kvitøya – 23rd July 2016

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

In the evening, the anchor went down near Andréeneset, where Andrée, Frænkel and Strindberg made their final landfall on 05th October 1897 after their famous balloon flight and the long journey across the ice. Stepping on solid ground was a pleasure that was not meant for us tonight, there was one polar bear just too close for that, and it even came a bit closer. So we went out into the Zodiacs to have a good look at the memorial from a little distance, a simple concrete block marking the site of the Andrée-expedition’s final camp. And of course to have a look at the polar bear that was walking around on the nearby beach not far away, looking quite meagre and chewing some seaweed. A bit further north, another polar bear scared a large herd of walruses into the water.

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