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Monthly Archives: September 2018 − News & Stories

The Sval­bard Glo­bal Seed Vault: online-tour in 360 degree pan­ora­ma for­mat

Most peo­p­le will never have the chan­ce to visit the famous Sval­bard Glo­bal Seed Vault bey­ond a glim­pse of the ent­rance from out­side. Col­lo­qui­al­ly also known as “doomsday vault”, it is used sin­ce 2008 to store seeds of food crops to make sure the spe­ci­es sur­vi­ve even when all other stocks are des­troy­ed by natu­ral or man-made eco­lo­gi­cal dis­as­ters or war.

The insi­de of the Sval­bard Glo­bal Seed Vault is, howe­ver, clo­sed to the public. Only tho­se who are working the­re, some VIP visi­tors and media teams, on cer­tain dates and with pri­or regis­tra­ti­on, get insi­de. During a media visit in 2016, I had the rare chan­ce to pho­to­graph the Seed Vault inclu­ding 360 degree pan­ora­mas, which can now be seen on this page (click here). Parts of the Seed Vault are curr­ent­ly under reno­va­ti­on.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The Sval­bard Glo­bal Seed Vault is now acces­si­ble as a pan­ora­ma tour on this web­site.

Sun in Barents­burg and sand storm in Advent­fjord – 20 Sep­tem­ber 2018

Yet ano­ther beau­tiful, sun­ny day! We just keep enjoy­ing. More about „calm“ later.

Some of us have a bit of a slow start into the day, but after break­fast we take off to explo­re Barents­burg. With some minor adjus­t­ments of the rou­te, we even mana­ge to spend almost the who­le mor­ning in suns­hi­ne! A very inte­res­t­ing visit and a strong visu­al con­trast to our arc­tic expe­ri­en­ces so far.


Michel­le van Dijk in Barents­burg, sha­ring her know­ledge of the Dutch histo­ry of the place.


Love­ly day in Barents­burg.


Lenin some 12 hours later and in dif­fe­rent light (compa­re to yesterday’s blog).

Later we set cour­se across Isfjord to say good­bye and fare­well to Spitsbergen’s beau­tiful natu­re in Ymer­buk­ta, but things are chan­ging and so are our plans. The wind is picking up, the next days are sup­po­sed to bring pret­ty stor­my wea­ther and we get a first tas­te of it today. Not­hing serious so far, but the­re is a risk that we may not be able to go along­side in Lon­gye­ar­by­en in the evening if we get the­re too late so we chan­ge cour­se or Advent­fjor­den. Well, we have enjoy­ed so much of Spitsbergen’s beau­ty in the last cou­ple of days that we can real­ly relax and look for­ward to civi­li­sa­ti­on.

Con­tin­ued later – inde­ed, the wind had picked up con­sider­a­b­ly as we sai­led into Advent­fjord and going along­side was a chall­enge. We were all hap­py once the last mile was real­ly done!

Adventjord: dust storm

Sai­ling into a dust storm while ente­ring Advent­fjord.

Adventjord: dust storm

Dust storm over Advent­fjord.

A stun­nin­gly beau­tiful voya­ge is coming to an end – unfor­gettable! Big thanks to ever­y­bo­dy here, Cap­tain Kevin and his crew on board SV Anti­gua, my col­le­agues Michel­le van Dijk and Alex­an­der Lembke and of cour­se all our fel­low polar tra­vel­lers who con­tri­bu­ted to the good expe­ri­ence and spi­rits on board and on the tun­dra!

Crew of SV Antigua in Longyearbyen

Crew of SV Anti­gua in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

For­lands­und: Her­man­senøya & Daud­mannsøy­ra – 19 Sep­tem­ber 2018

Yet ano­ther beau­tiful, calm, sun­ny day! One can only won­der and enjoy.

The litt­le island of Her­man­senøya is lying in the midd­le of For­lands­und. Whe­re­ver the eye wan­ders the­re is beau­ty, both far away, such as the moun­ta­ins and gla­ciers of Spits­ber­gen and Prins Karls For­land, and clo­ser, from the rug­ged coas­tal rocks to the litt­le mira­cles that frost and ice crea­te in the tun­dra.

Hermansenøya: details in ice

Icy scenic details on Her­man­senøya (I).


Klei­ne, fei­ne Din­ge im Eis auf der Her­man­senøya (II).

Hermansenøya: details in ice

Icy scenic details on Her­man­senøya (III).

Hermansenøya: details in ice

More icy scenic details on Her­man­senøya: Flech­ten.

Hermansenøya: Tufted saxifrage

Even more scenic details on Her­man­senøya: last flowers of the Tuf­ted saxif­ra­ge in snow and ice.

In the after­noon we con­tin­ued sou­thwards along the west coast of Spits­ber­gen. One of the most beau­tiful bits of land­scape if you ask me! It’s not so much the post­card beau­ty, like ice­bergs and gla­ciers, that many asso­cia­te with the Arc­tic, it’s more subt­le. A wide plain with a very rocky, immense­ly beau­tiful coast­li­ne and very rich tun­dra with ple­nty of reinde­er. What a beau­tiful part of the pla­net! And we are lucky to be able to spend some time here, this area is pret­ty expo­sed.

Steinpynten, Daudmannsøyra

Hid­den bay in sou­thern For­lands­und.

Steinpynten, Daudmannsøyra

Wide tun­dra plain on Spitsbergen’s west coast (Daud­mannsøy­ra).

Steinpynten, Daudmannsøyra

Coas­tal land­scape in sou­thern For­lands­und.

Reindeer, Steinpynten, Daudmannsøyra

Reinde­er eating ice.

Antigua, Steinpynten, Daudmannsøyra

SV Anti­gua near the rocky coast in For­lands­und.

We went along­side in Barents­burg later in the evening. Rumours went later that it was a bit of a late night for some.

Lenin, Barentsburg

Lenin in evening light in Barents­burg. It is nice that dark nights are coming back now!

Brauerei, Barentsburg

Spitsbergen’s coo­le­st bar: the second-nor­t­hern­most bre­wery in the world in Barents­burg.

Raud­fjord – Fuglefjord – Kob­befjord – 18 Sep­tem­ber 2018

It is hard to belie­ve, but the wea­ther remains fault­less­ly beau­tiful. Hard­ly a cloud in the sky, gent­le frost in the mor­ning, no wind worth men­tio­ning.

It is time to stretch legs a bit. Solan­derfjel­let is temp­ting with stun­ning views over Raud­fjor­den.


View over Raud­fjor­den

We con­ti­nue through Fuglefjord, fil­led with ice from the migh­ty Svitjod­breen.


In the evening we turn into Kob­befjor­den on Dan­s­køya. This is whe­re seal­ing ships used to lea­ve mail for the main­land in the past – the­re is no let­ter or post­card in the cairn here today, the tra­di­ti­on seems to vanish in the haze of histo­ry. This is also whe­re Tor­ge­ir Simon­sen and Harald Møkle­by ended up after their icy Odys­sey in 1922 to die tra­gi­cal­ly a few months later. We, in con­trast, can enjoy the deep-red colours of the sun­set and a num­ber of very curious har­bour seals befo­re we con­ti­nue south on a flat-calm sea.


Lief­defjord & Wood­fjord – 17 Sep­tem­ber 2018

The wea­ther is almost sca­ry. Blue sky, cold, clear air.

The fur­ther we sail into Lief­defjord, the more ice is drif­ting on the water. We crui­se slow­ly bet­ween the smal­ler ber­gy bits and lar­ger ice­bergs.


The moun­ta­ins and gla­ciers are shi­ning in the sun. The land­scape is cul­mi­na­ting near Mona­co­b­reen and Seli­ger­breen, the lar­ge gla­ciers in Lief­defjord. A sym­pho­ny of gla­ciers and water, blue ice and blue sky, strong colours and sharp mir­ror images.

Gletscher im Liefdefjord

In the Lief­defjord the lar­ge gla­ciers Mona­co­b­reen and Seli­ger­breen impress.

Later, we find a wal­rus cow with her calf on an ice floe, and then a beard­ed seal.

In Wood­fjord, we find a polar bear fami­ly, so we spend the after­noon with wild­life wat­ching rather than tun­dra hiking. A mother with two first year cubs, all of them well-fed and in good shape. Love­ly to see.

Polar bear family, Kapp Auguste Viktoria

Well fed: Polar bear fami­ly, Kapp Augus­te Vik­to­ria

They fol­low the coast­li­ne as polar bears fre­quent­ly do, swim a bit in the fjord and then back to the shore, while the sun is cas­ting red light on the red land­scape. An incre­di­ble pic­tu­re.

Kapp Auguste Viktoria

Mof­fen & Wood­fjord – 16 Sep­tem­ber 2018

The wea­ther stays on our side, the sun is shi­ning through the thin clouds and, even more important, the sea is almost flat like a mir­ror as we set cour­se for Mof­fen in the ear­ly mor­ning. Not too much later we are shore. Mof­fen! This litt­le island just abo­ve 80 degrees north, hard­ly more than an exten­ded gra­vel bank, it exerts a fasci­na­ti­on that is hard to descri­ve with a few words. A litt­le, lonely island in the polar sea, this almost bizar­re land­scape of series of old beach rid­ges which add up to one ano­ther to form a gra­vel ring around a lagoon, the charme of a for­bidden island, it all comes tog­e­ther. Mof­fen is inde­ed a for­bidden island, becau­se you are not allo­wed to approach clo­ser than 300 met­res from mid May to mid Sep­tem­ber. Today it is 16 Sep­tem­ber, so you need not just the wea­ther but also the calen­der on your side to get real­ly clo­se to the island.


Mof­fen is loca­ted exact­ly on 80° North.

And then the­re are the wal­rus­ses! The­re are more than 100 in 3 groups on the sou­thern tip of the island, and more in the water. We have an ama­zing expe­ri­ence with them. It is hard to tell who is more curious, again and again the­re are wal­rus­ses swim­ming towards us, curious­ly che­cking the unu­su­al visi­tors out.

Walruses on Moffen

Who’s wat­ching who? Curious wal­ru­ses on Mof­fen.

The­re is also pla­s­tic on Mof­fen, sad­ly, as almost ever­y­whe­re. We take quite a lot of it with us.

Many of us have read Chris­tia­ne Ritter’s book „A woman in the polar night“, for some us it was a poe­tic door-ope­ner to the Arc­tic many years ago. We do have the chan­ce to visit the hut near Gråhu­ken whe­re the famous win­tering took place. An almost emo­tio­nal expe­ri­ence for some of us, and cer­tain­ly inte­res­t­ing for ever­y­bo­dy.


Chris­tia­ne Rit­ter win­tered in the Rit­ter hut in 1943/35. The hut was built in 1928 by the legen­da­ry Nor­we­gi­an trap­per Hil­mar Nøis.

Final­ly we drop anchor in the bay of Mus­ham­na – the lagoon its­elf is fro­zen, so we stay out­side as we are not sure if pro­vi­si­ons would last for a win­ter. We spend the evening around a fire on the beach, wat­ching how the colours in the land­scape chan­ge.


Murch­ison­fjord & Sorg­fjord – 15 Sep­tem­ber 2018

The­re must have been hundreds of Rus­si­an cros­ses in Spits­ber­gen cen­tu­ries ago, built by the Pomors near their hun­ting sta­ti­ons. Nowa­days the­re are only two of them left and still stan­ding, both on litt­le islands in Murch­ison­fjord. One of them is our desti­na­ti­on for the mor­ning.

Nordre Russeøya, Murchisonfjord

Rus­si­an cross, Nord­re Russeøya/ Murch­ison­fjord

Snow is lying on the ground and the­re is the smell of win­ter in the air, a fee­ling even enhan­ced by the yel­lo­wish light of the low sun. We take stun­ning arc­tic win­ter impres­si­ons and some lar­ge fishing nets back on board after the landing.

Nordre Russeøya, Murchisonfjord

In Sorg­fjord, the clouds have dis­ap­peared almost com­ple­te­ly, the sun is low on the blue sky. The snow-cover­ed land is shi­ning in colours some­whe­re bet­ween white, blue and red.

Crozierpynten, Sorgfjord

Cro­zier­pyn­ten on the Eas­tern side of Sorg­fjord

Crozierpynten, Sorgfjord

Murch­ison­fjord – 14 Sep­tem­ber 2018

A reason­ab­ly calm night under sail brings uns far east to Nord­aus­t­land, as far as Murch­ison­fjord. A thin lay­er of fresh snow is a clear sign of the sum­mer fight­ing a lost batt­le in the­se lati­tu­des, the ther­mo­met­re does hard­ly climb abo­ve zero any­mo­re. A snow show­er was redu­cing the visi­bi­li­ty almost to zero as soon as we went ashore.

Snaddvika, Murchisonfjord

Snaddvi­ka, Murch­ison­fjord

We lan­ded in the inner­most cor­ner of Murch­ison­fjord. White snow was cove­ring red rocks, gree­tings from ear­ly chap­ters of Earth histo­ry. Wide-open views over hills and val­leys, fjords and islands, with the ice cap in the back­ground.

Kinnvika, Murchisonfjord

Kinn­vi­ka, Murch­ison­fjord

We move over to Kinn­vi­ka for the after­noon landing. The Sep­tem­ber sun is cas­ting warm light over the cold land­scape and the old Swe­dish rese­arch seta­ti­on. The light is get­ting more and more inten­si­ve, with colours like from an dream.

We spend the night at anchor in Kinn­vi­ka, nice and calm.

Kinnvika, Murchisonfjord

The Swe­dish rese­arch sta­ti­on Kinn­vi­ka was last in ope­ra­ti­on in 2007/2008.

From Smee­ren­burg to Hamil­ton­buk­ta – 13 Sep­tem­ber 2018

A love­ly bit of sai­ling takes us up to Smee­ren­burg­fjord during the night. Smee­ren­burg gives us a fri­end­ly wel­co­me with fine landing con­di­ti­ons. Wal­rus­ses, Dutch 17th cen­tu­ry wha­ling, polar foxes and the beau­tiful sce­n­ery make the mor­ning.

Walrusses, Smeerenburg

Wal­rus­ses, Smee­ren­burg

As we con­ti­nue fur­ther east­wards, we see the first polar bear of the trip. Quite distant, but well visi­ble for ever­y­bo­dy.

Polar bear, Fair Haven

The first polar bear of our trip!

In Hamil­ton­buk­ta, we enjoy the tim­e­l­ess beau­ty and silence of the Arc­tic for a while, sur­roun­ded by stun­ning moun­ta­ins and gla­ciers. So, ano­ther good day in the Arc­tic! We are curious what tomor­row may bring, as we set cour­se to the nor­the­ast.





Kongsfjord – 12 Sep­tem­ber 2018

We start in rather tra­di­tio­nal man­ner in Ny-Åle­sund in Kongsfjor­den. Our first and last visit to a sett­le­ment. Spits­ber­gen gives us a warm – well, chil­ly, but sun­ny and beau­tiful – wel­co­me. A fresh bree­ze is coming towards us as we go along­side. We dedi­ca­te the mor­ning to the litt­le sett­le­ment with its histo­ry, coal mining and north pole expe­di­ti­ons, and the pre­sent: sci­ence.


The mast from which Amund­sen and Nobi­le laun­ched their air­ships.

The lar­ge gla­cier Krone­breen is temp­ting us in the after­noon. We can’t resist – well, why should we even try – and enjoy the stun­ning land­scape.


The migh­ty gla­cier Krone­breen

Later, we set sails again. It is pure plea­su­re to move sil­ent­ly out of Kongsfjor­den and into the sun­set.


Text: Rolf Stan­ge

Isfjord – 11 Sep­tem­ber 2018

It was high time to take off again, to get water under the keel and wind around the masts! We got a good bit of both as we went on board SV Anti­gua today. The­re was a fair bree­ze blo­wing out of Advent­da­len, the sun was shi­ning from a blue sky. Late after­noon, we left the small pier in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, and up went the sails!


Up went the sails! This time towards the west and north coast of Spits­ber­gen.


From Advent­da­len into the Isfjord.

It was a beau­tiful bit of real sai­ling out of Advent­fjord and through most of Isfjord. Many peo­p­le on board have been on Spits­ber­gen a num­ber of times befo­re, so it should real­ly be a very inte­res­t­ing trip!


Gre­at guests and atmo­sphe­re on board!

The first evening made clear what Sep­tem­ber in Spits­ber­gen is all about: warm light from the low sun, stun­ning sce­n­ery and even a Blue wha­le which waved with its flu­ke.

Blue whale, Isfjord

A Blue wha­le, the big­gest ani­mal on earth…

We pas­sed the wide pla­teau of Fuglef­jel­la, Gru­mant­by­en, Coles­buk­ta. Moun­ta­ins and gla­ciers on the other side in the north, Alkef­jel­let under the bright sun ahead of us. Ama­zing beau­ty whe­re­ver you loo­ked!




Polar bear fami­ly in Bjørn­da­len near Lon­gye­ar­by­en

Today (Mon­day, 10 Sep­tem­ber), a polar bear fami­ly was seen near Ves­t­pyn­ten, not far from the air­port and camp­si­te at Lon­gye­ar­by­en. It was a fema­le bear with two first-year cubs, pro­ba­b­ly the same polar bears that were seen on Satur­day at Rev­ne­set, on the north side of Advent­fjord oppo­si­te of Lon­gye­ar­by­en. On Satur­day, the bears were cha­sed away by heli­c­op­ter towards Sas­senfjord, away rom Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Polar bears inclu­ding fema­les with cubs regu­lar­ly cover lar­ge distances. A walk inclu­ding lon­ger swim­ming distances from Advent­fjord (Lon­gye­ar­by­en) to Sas­senfjord and back within 2 days is ful­ly rea­li­stic and nor­mal.

When the bears were seen near Ves­t­pyn­ten today around 16.00, both curious onloo­kers and the Sys­sel­man­nen (poli­ce) were soon on the sce­ne, as repor­ted by Sval­bard­pos­ten. The Sys­sel­man­nen fol­lo­wed the polar bear fami­ly by car slow­ly towards Bjørn­da­len fur­ther west.

The­re, hopes that the bears might con­ti­nue and dis­ap­pear from the Lon­gye­ar­by­en area soon vanis­hed in the haze, as the bears were seen fee­ding on a lar­ge wha­le car­cass, pos­si­bly from a sperm wha­le as appears on a pho­to taken by the Sys­sel­man­nen. This might pro­vi­de the bears in ques­ti­on with food for a lon­ger peri­od, if the wha­le does not start to float and drift away again. Chan­ces are also that the wha­le car­cass attracts fur­ther bears.

The Sys­sel­man­nen asks the public not to get clo­se to the bears and to be alert and to exer­cise usu­al safe­ty mea­su­res at any time in the field.

polar bears and whale carcass, Bjørndalen

Polar bear fami­ly with a solid meal in Bjørn­da­len near Lon­gye­ar­by­en, Mon­day (10 Sep­tem­ber) after­noon. Pho­to © Sys­sel­man­nen.

Update: the polar bears were scared away from the wha­le car­cass by the Sys­sel­man­nen later on Mon­day, as Sval­bard­pos­ten wro­te. The dead wha­le was towed into the fjord by Polar­sys­sel, the Sysselmannen’s ship, and the bears were scared and moved up into Bjørn­da­len.

The Spits­ber­gen-Calen­dar 2019 is available

Our alre­a­dy almost tra­di­tio­nal Spits­ber­gen-calen­der ist now available for 2019. It is available as befo­re in the big­ger A3 for­mat (beau­tiful on the wall) and the smal­ler A5 (gre­at for exam­p­le on the table or on the wall whe­re not so much space is available).

Spitsbergen-Calendar 2019

With arc­tic impres­si­ons through the year: the new calen­dar Spits­ber­gen 2019 is now available.

As oppo­sed to other offers available on the mar­ket, we sel­ect a set of 12 enti­re­ly new pho­tos every year to crea­te a com­ple­te­ly new calen­dar with fresh impres­si­ons, show­ing some of Spitsbergen’s most beau­tiful sides inclu­ding sce­n­ery, wild­life and flowers.

Spitsbergen-Calendar 2019

Unu­su­al per­spec­ti­ve of an impres­si­ve land­scape: the ice cap Aus­t­fon­na seen from the air.

Unu­su­al per­spec­ti­ves of remo­te places tog­e­ther with stun­ning wild­life pho­tos form a good part of the sel­ec­tion, which is com­ple­ted by flowers and stun­ning sce­n­ery of polar land­scapes and ice.

Spitsbergen-Calendar 2019

Of cour­se the­re are some polar bears in the calen­dar 🙂

Click here to see all images of the Spits­bergn calen­der 2019, more infor­ma­ti­on and orde­ring.

Job mar­ket in Lon­gye­ar­by­en gro­wing in spi­te of reduc­tion in coal mining

The gre­at fear of a col­lap­se of the job mar­ket in Lon­gye­ar­by­en after the signi­fi­cant reduc­tion of coal mining, espe­ci­al­ly in Sveagru­va, did not beco­me rea­li­ty so far. This is indi­ca­ted by the latest sta­tis­tics of the Sta­tis­tik Sen­tral­by­rå, the Nor­we­gi­an direc­to­ry of sta­tis­tics. In 2017, the­re were 4.2 % more jobs in Sval­bard com­pared to 2016. The num­ber of jobs in mining were actual­ly redu­ced by 34 % down to 100, but this loss was more than com­pen­sa­ted by growth in other bran­ches, most­ly in rela­ti­on to tou­rism. Hotels and restau­rants crea­ted 36.3 % more jobs in 2017 than in 2016, total­ling 315 jobs in 2015. ´

Longyearbyen: job market growing

Lon­gye­ar­by­en is gro­wing, also on the job mar­ket: 4,2 % more jobs in 2017.

This growth is mea­su­red in “Års­verk”, which may be best trans­la­ted with “man hours per year”. 315 “års­verk” do not neces­s­a­ri­ly mean 315 full-time employees, but an amount of paid work that could be done by 315 peo­p­le within one year. This amount of work may, howe­ver, be spread over a lar­ger num­ber of part-time or sea­so­nal jobs, which is cer­tain­ly the case to some degree in tou­rism. “Tou­rism” as such is not a cate­go­ry in the sta­tis­tics. Jobs crea­ted within tou­rism are mea­su­red in cate­go­ries such as hotels & restau­rants, ser­vice indus­try and trans­port and logi­stics.


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