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HomeArctic blog: Jan Mayen, Spitsbergen → Mof­fen & Woodfjord – 16 Sep­tem­ber 2018

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.


By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (3): Die Bären­in­sel und Jan May­en”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!



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last modification: 2018-09-25 · copyright: Rolf Stange