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Home → September, 2017

Monthly Archives: September 2017 − News


Several polar bears obser­ved near sett­le­ments

Several polar bears have been seen near Lon­gye­ar­by­en and other sett­le­ments in the past few weeks.

Polar bears look cute, but can be nas­ty when they are loo­king for food

Polar bears Longyearbyen

One of the bears – a 17-year-old male – had to be anesthe­ti­zed and trans­por­ted by heli­co­p­ter to Nord­aus­t­lan­det in the north-east of Spits­ber­gen, after devas­ta­ting several huts at Kap Lai­la River bet­ween Lon­gye­ar­by­en and Bar­ents­burg on 15 Sep­tem­ber. Polar bear expert Jon Aars from the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te con­fir­med, that this was alrea­dy the bears second flight with a heli­co­p­ter. The polar bear was mar­ked as a cub and alrea­dy regis­tered in 2001, when he des­troy­ed a hut tog­e­ther with his bro­ther and mother. The mother was also obser­ved later in simi­lar burg­la­ries.

This is not an unusu­al beha­vi­or for a polar bear, says Jon Aars. Some polar bears even seem to have spe­cia­li­zed in hut burg­la­ries. But to stun the polar bears and fly them out can just be a short-term solu­ti­on. Last year in April a polar bear from Lon­gye­ar­by­en was flown to the island of Nord­aus­t­land several hund­red kilo­me­ters away. Only one year later he was back at the Isfjor­den.

At the begin­ning of Sep­tem­ber, a fema­le polar bear with two cubs was obser­ved at Rev­ne­set – a few kilo­me­ters north of Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Three attempts have alrea­dy been made to hunt them away by means of a heli­co­p­ter. The three bears retur­ned twice after a few days and reap­peared near Lon­gye­ar­by­en. After the third attempt, the bears have not yet been seen again.

Ano­t­her polar bear with two cubs was obser­ved near Svea and several bears were seen near Isfjord radio at Kapp Lin­né the last mon­th.

The fact that so many polar bears appe­ar in the vicini­ty of human sett­le­ments in such a short time does not occur too often, but is pro­bab­ly coin­ci­dence. Jon Aars belie­ves that such visits could occur more often in the future, as polar bears have been pro­tec­ted for many years. Gene­tic rese­arch shows that polar bears tend to visit the same are­as for several genera­ti­ons. Peop­le in Lon­gye­ar­by­en will pro­bab­ly have to get used to fre­quent visits of polar bears. Or the other way around.

Polar bear mum with cub

Polar bear Longyearbyen

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Ita­li­an lost and found

After the search after a sai­ling boat last week, SAR (search and res­cue) for­ces from Sys­sel­man­nen and Red Cross were, only a few days later, again out on a major mis­si­on. On Satur­day after­noon at 16.20 hours, the local hos­pi­tal in Lon­gye­ar­by­en recei­ved a call from an Ita­li­an per­son who was stuck on a steep slo­pe and not able to move. The man said that he could see the air­port, without giving fur­ther details about his posi­ti­on. Next to lack of local know­ledge, lan­guage dif­fi­cul­ties may have come in here. He finis­hed the con­ver­sa­ti­on without lea­ving his name or con­ta­ct details, so it was not pos­si­ble to con­ta­ct him again later.

Hence, SAR for­ces had to move out in darkness and strong winds. The Red Cross sear­ched Pla­tå­ber­get, which is situa­ted near the air­port, with about 30 peop­le. Final­ly, a light signal was seen on a steep slo­pe abo­ve the sea on Fuglef­jel­la, bet­ween Bjørn­da­len and Lit­le Bjørn­da­len. Strong winds pre­ven­ted SAR for­ces from reaching the area by heli­co­p­ter, so the Red Cross had to walk a lon­ger distance to get to the site. Short­ly after 5 a.m. the man was final­ly res­cued; he had spent at least about 13 hours in his posi­ti­on. All invol­ved got back to Lon­gye­ar­by­en the­re­af­ter in good con­di­ti­on.

The inci­dent shows how important it is to have at least basic local know­ledge and means of ori­en­ta­ti­on as well as the abi­li­ty to make a pro­per emer­gen­cy call if worst comes to worst. Next to some know­ledge of a lan­guage used local­ly, or at least a con­ta­ct who can pro­vi­de that, this invol­ves the cor­rect local emer­gen­cy con­ta­cts (the Sys­sel­man­nen), name and pho­ne num­ber. The man was in very steep ter­rain, in darkness, strong wind and without local know­ledge and ori­en­ta­ti­on. The inci­dent pro­vi­des a nega­ti­ve examp­le in several ways.

The steep slo­pe of Fuglef­jel­la bet­ween Bjørn­da­len and Lit­le Grum­ant­da­len on a nice sum­mer day, whe­re an Ita­li­an tou­rist was res­cued ear­ly Sunday morning in darkness and wind.

Italian Fuglefjella

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Sai­ling boat lost and found

The­re have been strong winds up to storm for­ce in nort­hern Spits­ber­gen yes­ter­day (Mon­day). Two smal­ler boats seem to have got­ten into poten­ti­al­ly serious dif­fi­cul­ties. Emer­gen­cy signals have been trig­ge­red and search and res­cue for­ces are in the area with heli­co­p­ters and coast guard ships.

SV Anti­gua (whe­re the pre­sent aut­hor is on board) is also in the area, but we did not have more pro­blems than some cases of sea­sick­ness during our sai­ling pas­sa­ge yes­ter­day. So SV Anti­gua is NOT affec­ted by any serious pro­blems.

Update: after several hours sear­ching in the nor­thwest of Spits­ber­gen, whe­re also several tou­rist ships inclu­ding SV Anti­gua assis­ted, the boat was on Tues­day found „in good con­di­ti­on“. The SAR mis­si­on was offi­cial­ly aban­do­ned by the coast guard. It was later sta­ted that it was a local boat from Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The emer­gen­cy signal posi­ti­on was from Mag­da­le­n­efjord, while the boat was found in Wij­defjord, almost 100 km away as the ivory gull flies. The emer­gen­cy signal had been trig­ger auto­ma­ti­cal­ly without the crew being awa­re of it; pro­bab­ly, the emer­gen­cy beacon was lost in hea­vy seas and trig­ge­red its­elf.

Wind for­ce 8 on Mon­day at the north coast of Spits­ber­gen. Pho­to © Alex­an­der Lembke.

Storm Spitsbergen

Strong wind up to storm for­ce in North Spits­ber­gen

The­re have been strong winds up to storm for­ce in nort­hern Spits­ber­gen yes­ter­day (Mon­day – 2017/09/18). Two smal­ler boats seem to have got­ten into poten­ti­al­ly serious dif­fi­cul­ties. Emer­gen­cy signals have been trig­ge­red and search and res­cue for­ces are in the area with heli­co­p­ters and coast guard ships.

SV Anti­gua (whe­re the pre­sent aut­hor is on board) is also in the area, but we did not have more pro­blems than some cases of sea­sick­ness during our sai­ling pas­sa­ge yes­ter­day. So SV Anti­gua is NOT affec­ted by any serious pro­blems.

Update: after several hours sear­ching in the nor­thwest of Spits­ber­gen, whe­re SV Anti­gua also assis­ted, the boat was found »in good con­di­ti­on«. The SAR mis­si­on was offi­cial­ly aban­do­ned by the coast guard. At the moment, no fur­ther details regar­ding the iden­ti­ty of the boat or other are avail­ab­le.

Update: Accord­ing to Sval­bard­pos­ten, it was a local sai­ling boat from Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The emer­gen­cy beacon was lost and auto­ma­ti­cal­ly acti­va­ted during hea­vy wea­ther. The crew was not awa­re of that.

Source: Rolf Stan­ge via OnSat-Mail direct­ly from SV Anti­gua

1600 liters of die­sel lost in Mimerda­len

1600 litres of die­sel were lost on Fri­day during a heli­co­p­ter flight in Mimerda­len near Pyra­mi­den. The fuel was han­ging under the heli­co­p­ter to be trans­por­ted to a sta­ti­on on a moun­tain west of Pyra­mi­den ope­ra­ted by Lon­gye­ar­by­en air­port for aeri­al navi­ga­ti­on.

A rope bro­ke during the flight, so the die­sel fell down and cras­hed on the gra­vel plain of the river bed. It could not be retrie­ved and was lost in the envi­ron­ment: in the river gra­vel, one of the many small rivers or final­ly in the fjord.

The heli­co­p­ter was ope­ra­ted by Luft­trans­port, a com­pa­ny that is also respon­si­ble for the heli­co­p­ter logistics of the Sys­sel­man­nen, inclu­ding Search and Res­cue ope­ra­ti­ons. The inci­dent is cur­r­ent­ly under inves­ti­ga­ti­on.

Mimerda­len near Pyra­mi­den, whe­re 1600 litres of Die­sel were lost from a heli­co­p­ter on Fri­day.

Mimerdalen

Quel­le: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Sum­mer hiking rou­te up to Lars­breen des­troy­ed by lands­li­de

The moun­tains and gla­ciers around Lon­gye­ar­by­en have a lot of gre­at hiking oppor­tu­nities. Right now it loo­ks like the­re is one less: the wes­tern part of the morai­ne of Lars­breen, which is part of the popu­lar sum­mer rou­te ascen­ding Lars­breen towards the gla­cier its­elf or the near-by moun­tains (Troll­stei­nen, Sar­ko­fa­gen) has been stron­gly affec­ted by lands­li­des this sum­mer. This is gene­ral­ly a natu­ral pro­cess in a morai­ne area that con­sists of a thing lay­er of sedi­ment res­ting on steep slo­pes of clear gla­cier ice. The area had alrea­dy been affec­ted by minor lands­li­des in recent years.

This summer’s lands­li­des took the area with the hiking rou­te from Lon­gye­arda­len up to Lars­breen. Now, the­re is a steep slo­pe of most­ly expo­sed gla­cier ice cove­r­ed with a thin lay­er of sedi­ment (mud and stones). The “way” below the slo­pe is expo­sed to fur­ther lands­li­des and rock­falls and hence cur­r­ent­ly not a safe alter­na­ti­ve.

It remains to be seen if the win­ter rou­te can still be used. Win­ter and sum­mer rou­tes are slight­ly dif­fe­rent and frost and snow chan­ge the ter­rain signi­fi­cant­ly. Mean­while, Lon­gyear­breen and Vann­led­nings­da­len remain gene­ral­ly avail­ab­le as hiking rou­tes up to Lars­breen, Sar­ko­fa­gen and Troll­stei­nen.

View from Gru­ve­f­jel­let to the morai­ne of Lars­breen. The area recent­ly affec­ted by lands­li­des is rough­ly mar­ked by the red cir­cle (the pho­to was taken befo­re the­se lands­li­des hap­pen­ed).

Larsbreen moraine landslide

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