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Monthly Archives: July 2018 − News & Stories


Isfjord – 31 July 2018

It was just a short stop in Longyearbyen to get used to civilisation and road traffic again, be it with engines or feathers, and then we took off again into the big, wide, open, arctic world. This time with Arctica II. Advanced Spitsbergen! Pål Remen had already been our skipper in 2015, he has spent the last winter with his partner on the trapper station at Austfjordneset. Monika Hiller completes the team as a guide, and we are joined by 9 fellow explorers, so we are ready to go!

Adventdalen

Adventdalen

We have a dream start in Isfjorden, with bright sunshine, the water lying like a mirror, and a wide panoramic view. The clouds over Trygghamna looked quite dramatic, but that was the only dramatic thing about the weather even there. A polar bear was swimming across the fjord, the first one for us in this trip, only a few hours after leaving Longyearbyen! We didn’t really get to see him at closer distance, but nevertheless – great!

Isfjord

Isfjord

Isfjord

Isfjord

It was quite foggy in Forlandsund, so most of us had gone to bad when the anchor fell long after midnight.

Trygghamna

Trygghamna

Trygghamna

Trygghamna

Polar bear attack on Phippsøya: man injured, polar bear shot – first details

The polar bear attack on Phippsøya (Sjuøyane, Svalbard) from Saturday is discussed in media and social media worldwide. The Sysselmannen (governor, police) has released some details, but a lot of questions remain so far.

At 08.30 a.m. (local time), a group of 12 staff members of the cruise vessel MS Bremen went ashore on Phippsøya to prepare a landing for passengers. The group was attacked on land by a polar bear, which did not react to shouting and shooting with signal pistols. The bear attacked a 42 year old German staff member who suffered head injuries. The man was taken to the hospital and later Tromsø, his condition is stable.

The bear was shot by 2 other members of the group and later flown to Longyearbyen by helicopter for investigations.

This is the information which has been released officially. All information which circulates in current public discussions beyond this is speculative.

Polar bear attack Svalbard

Polar bear on Phippsøya, a frequently used landing site on Sjuøyane northernmost in Spitsbergen (archive image).

Nordfjord – 28 July 2018

We spent the last day in Nordfjord, namely in one of its northern branches called Ekmanfjord. Amazing how the landscapes of Spitsbergen could still surprise and amaze us after a trip that felt like months long. The protruding cliffs of the mountains remind of gothic cathedrals.

Blomesletta

Tundra on Blomesletta.

A walk and a long hike, according to choice, took us across a wide-open tundra area with some hills and lakes, where we enjoyed various flowers, birds, the colours of the tundra and all the details that the arctic has to offer.

Blomesletta Rentiergeweih

Reindeer antler in a lake on Blomesletta.

Wahlenbergbreen is a very active glacier and the place that Rolf chose for our farewell to Spitsbergen. We moved silently between many little icebergs and bergy bits with the Zodiacs to enjoy and say goodbye to the Arctic – for this time.

Wahlenbergbreen

Wahlenbergbreen: glacier and mountains.

A friendly Humpback whale waved us goodbye with the fluke just before we went alongside in Longyearbyen.

Humpback whale Adventfjord

Humpback whale in Adventfjord.

Polar bear attack on Sjuøyane: man injured

A man was injured by a polar bear today (Saturday, 28 July) on Sjuøyane. The man survived with injuries, the bear was shot, as the Sysselmannen informed today.

The polar bear attacked persons who went ashore from the cruise ship MS Bremen. He is said to be a crew member serving as polar bear guard, preparing a tourist landing. He suffered head injuries; no information has yet been released about serious his injuries are. The man was brought to the hospital in Longyearbyen by helicopter.

The incident will be investigated by the Sysselmannen, but first priority is given to provision of medical care to the injured man.

Polar bear attack Svalbard

Polar bear on Phippsøya, a frequently used landing site on Sjuøyane northernmost in Spitsbergen (archive image).

Isfjord – 27 July 2018

Barentsburg gave us much more of a friendly welcome than we had feared last night: not only had the weather cleared up, but a polar fox came to the harbour during breakfast to say hello!

Barentsburg

The morning walk through the Russian settlement brought not just the visual contrasts that one is safe to expect here, but also a wealth of knowledge regarding 20th century history and politics of Spitsbergen.

Barentsburg
Isfjord Segeln Antigua

The afternoon started with a lot of wind and some great sailing across Isfjord, before we found a place in Borebukta sheltered enough to explore a bit of moraine and tundra landscape. In the evening, we brought out some cheers on this great trip which was about to come to an end soon.

Isfjord Segeln Antigua
Tunrdaodden

Forsbladodden- 26 July 2018

We were curious about the experience of the trekking group who had spent the night with Alex in a camp somewhere in a hidden valley in Nathorst Land. They came back in the late morning after a rather wet and windy night and a solid hike in Forkastningsdalen, happy about the experience and also happy to get back on board and warm up again with some hot chocolate!

Forsbladodden

Forsbladodden

Forsbladodden

Forsbladodden

Meanwhile, the „normal” people had ventured across Forsbladodden and into lower reaches of Forkastningsdalen, meeting some very friendly reindeer and exploring the landscape which was so rich in structure on bigger and smaller scales.

Forsbladodden

Forsbladodden

Forsbladodden

Forsbladodden

In the afternoon, we set sail, heading north towards Isfjord. At some stage we made up to 8-9 knots, but later the wind fell away, something that can not be said about the swell so we were rather happy to enter Isfjord in the late afternoon. Once alongside in Barentsburg, most of us went to explore the products of the brewery in the stylish new bar.

Barentsburg

Forsbladodden

Bellsund – 25 July 2018

The swell last night on the way up to Bellsund had not exactly made the night better, and most of us were quite happy to get into sheltered waters again in Bellsund in the very early morning hours.

Tomtodden

Tomtodden

We gave the day a relaxed start and made a little walk along the coast in Recherchefjord, where a Russian expedition had built a station in 1764, almost a little village of 16 houses. None is standing anymore, of course. Rolf told the stories of this adventure and others such as the French Recherche-Expedition, whose brave scientists climbed Observatoriefjellet many times for their work, the cruise ship Monte Cervantes which managed to reach Recherchefjord after being damaged by ice in 1928 (she sank in early 1930 close to Ushuaia), the touristic hopes of Konsul Gjæver, who had left a crooked hut here, and 8 English whalers who had been left here by accident in 1630. They were found in the following year in good shape. Lots of stories for such a little fjord! The oldest bits of history were actually geological traces of an ice age more than 600 million years ago, which have now come to the surface again just to be pushed around again by a glacier!

Snatcherpynten

Snatcherpynten

Snatcherpynten

Snatcherpynten

In the afternoon, we dropped a little group of brave hikers off, who ventured on a crossing from Van Mijenfjord to Van Keulenfjord. We hoped to see them again tomorrow in good shape and set off to Akseløya to explore this splendid bit of scenery and geology as the last one of today’s adventures.

Snatcherpynten

Snatcherpynten

Akseløya

Akseløya

Bellsund – 25 July 2018

The swell last night on the way up to Bellsund had not exactly made the
night better, and most of us were quite happy to get into sheltered
waters again in Bellsund in the very early morning hours.

Tomtodden

Tomtodden

We gave the day a relaxed start and made a little walk along the coast
in Recherchefjord, where a Russian expedition had built a station in
1764, almost a little village of 16 houses. None is standing anymore, of
course. Rolf told the stories of this adventure and others such as the
French Recherche-Expedition, whose brave scientists climbed
Observatoriefjellet many times for their work, the cruise ship Monte
Cervantes which managed to reach Recherchefjord after being damaged by
ice in 1928 (she sank in early 1930 close to Ushuaia), the touristic
hopes of Konsul Gjæver, who had left a crooked hut here, and 8 English
whalers who had been left here by accident in 1630. They were found in
the following year in good shape. Lots of stories for such a little
fjord! The oldest bits of history were actually geological traces of an
ice age more than 600 million years ago, which have now come to the
surface again just to be pushed around again by a glacier!

Snatcherpynten

Snatcherpynten

Snatcherpynten

Snatcherpynten

In the afternoon, we dropped a little group of brave hikers off, who
ventured on a crossing from Van Mijenfjord to Van Keulenfjord. We hoped
to see them again tomorrow in good shape and set off to Akseløya to
explore this splendid bit of scenery and geology as the last one of
today’s adventures.

Snatcherpynten

Snatcherpynten

Akseløya

Akseløya

Hornsund – 24 July 2018

The wind that blew through Hornsund last night was quite impressive and our first anchorage in Gåshamna was not really sheltered. Both anchors were on the ground but dragging as the wind picked even further up, so we had to reposition in the middle of the night, a rather lively affair with little sleep.

Mendeleevbreen

At least it was calm in the morning, so we could go ashore in Adriabukta without problems. Soon, however, the wind picked up again, this time from the wrong direction, so we made sure we got back to the ship before we might end up in trouble. It was rainy and foggy anyway.

Burgerbukta

Deep in innermost Hornsund, it was nice and clear, so we could enjoy some great views of the glaciers and mountains there.

An impressive collection of icebergs provided the final highlight of the day, which had been grey and wet, but still beautiful, in its very own way.

Sailing around Sørkapp – 23 July 2018

Today is the day to return to the west coast. It should be the perfect weather window, according to the forecast. Initially, the wind let a bit to be desired and we had to rely on the engine rather than the sails. At least it was perfectly calm. Near the south cape, the wind started to pick up, and one sail after the other went up until we made 10 knots under canvas – no engine! Great! Calm enough to do presentations about polar bears, Spitsbergen’s flora and to show some historical paintings.

Sørkapp

Hornsund

Freemansund – 22 July 2018

An overnight passage brought us to Freemansund, where we spent the morning on Edgeøya in a wide tundra landscape with well-developed phenomena such as ice wedges and ancient beach ridges. The species diversity of the tundra is as impressive as the amount of driftwood on the coast, and unfortunately also the amount of plastic trash on the beach. At least, there was significantly less of the latter left after our visit than there had been before.

Aaneset

Aaneset

We spent an extremely pleasant afternoon together with several thousand kittiwakes and a family of polar foxes.

Buedelfjellet

Buedelfjellet

Hinlopen II – 21 July 2018

In the morning, we have got Alkefjellet next to us. An extremely impressive place, where arctic life is concentrated on a scale that is hard to understand or even just to believe.

Alkefjellet

Alkefjellet

After an excursion in a polar desert fossil paradise, we have yet another miracle of arctic nature in front of the ship: the ice cliff of Bråsvellbreen, a part of the huge ice cap of Austfonna. A touch of icy infinity.

Alkefjellet

Vibebukta

Brasvellbreen

Brasvellbreen

Hinlopen – 20 July 2018

We have reached the beautiful Hinlopen Strait! Last night we passed the long ice cliffs of Austfonna and Bråsvellbreen, unfortunately hidden in the fog, but there were a lot of icebergs.

Ardneset

Ardneset

We paid a visit to a walrus colony. The number of animals present was not actually impressive, but to our surprise, it did not matter too much; the two walrusses were relaxed and some of their friends came along for a visit. They had a good time and so did we.

Ardneset

Ardneset

In the afternoon, a small team of brave expeditioners was ready to start an overnight hike with tents and everything across Scaniahalvøya, aiming at a calm camp somewhere in a wide valley between the ice caps. Unfortunately, a yellow dot far away in the tundra turned out to be a sleeping polar bear, so we had to cancel this adventure and the hikers joined the various afternoon walks in Augustabukta. We explored the wide coastal plain which had a surprisingly rich diversity of flowers in same places and a lot of fossils in others. A little herd of reindeer turned out to be pretty curious. Later, the wind calmed down and the sun came out and we had beautiful evening light on the wide glaciers and ice caps nearby before we moved into some fog banks.

Augusabukta

Augustabukta

Kvitøya – 19 July 2018

We ventured out to the remotest parts of Spitsbergen, the island of Kvitøya in the northeast of the Svalbard archipelago, not far from Russian Franz Josef Land. This is where Salomon August Andrée, Knut Frænkel and Nils Strindberg reached land for the first time again after a balloon flight of 3 days and more than 2 months of marching across the drifting ice. They started to get ready for the winter, but died all after a short time for reasons which we will never really find out for sure.

Andreeneset

Andreeneset

It needs a lot of luck to get to this place. Even today, Kvitøya is often surrounded by ice, and when this is not the case, then the surf is often going high on the exposed coast. And when this is not the case, then there are often some polar bears hanging around. The way from the shore to the place where Andrée, Frænkel and Strindberg had their final camp is short, but not easy to walk.

Today, we are lucky! It is a bit foggy, which fits the atmosphere of this desolate place perfectly well.

Duvefjord – 18 July 2018

A beautiful day in a beautiful area at the end of the world, in a little bay in the remote northeast of the remote Nordaustland. Seemingly empty polar desert, full of colours and structures.

Reliktbukta

Reliktbukta

Albertinibukta

Albertinibukta

After some hours of sailing in unknown waters near rocky islands, we reach a bay with a huge glacier and many icebergs. Walrusses are in the water every here and there, and then we discover three polar bears who are crossing the fjord. A mother and two first-year cubs. They swim between the icebergs before they climb up the steep slope.

Albertinibukta

Albertinibukta
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News-Listing live generated at 2018/December/14 at 08:55:19 Uhr (GMT+1)
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