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Home → November, 2020

Monthly Archives: November 2020 − News & Stories

The mou­se hunt is ope­ned

In Sval­bard the hun­ting sea­son is open – for mice! Ever­y­thing else in the video, I wan­ted to try some­thing new.


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Mice on Sval­bard

Addi­tio­nal depar­tu­re with Arc­ti­ca II: 28.8.-5.9.2021

We have can­cel­led all trips this year – now it is time to make new, fresh plans. For the arc­tic sum­mer sea­son 2021, we have sche­du­led one addi­tio­nal depar­tu­re with SY Arc­ti­ca II.

Of cour­se we can’t pre­dict the future, but con­side­ring the various news about vac­ci­nes we think we can be opti­mi­stic. After our tra­di­tio­nal, long Spits­ber­gen voya­ge with Arc­ti­ca II in August, the­re will be one more trip with this love­ly litt­le sai­ling ship,starting 28 August and finis­hing on 05 Sep­tem­ber.

Spitsbergen 2021 with Arctica II: additional departure

Arc­ti­ca II on the west coast of Spits­ber­gen: addi­tio­nal depar­tu­re in 2021.

Due to all the can­cel­la­ti­ons of the 2020 sea­son, the­re is a lot of inte­rest in upco­ming trips, so now we can offer 9 addi­tio­nal places and defi­ni­te­ly a uni­que and inten­se expe­ri­ence.

This depar­tu­re will be Ger­man spea­king. The detail­ed descrip­ti­on of the voya­ge inclu­ding the pri­ce will fol­low soon, and then it will also be pos­si­ble to make reser­va­tions. For fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on or reser­va­tions, plea­se don’t hesi­ta­te to get in touch with my col­le­ague Uwe Maaß in the office of the Geo­gra­phi­schen Rei­se­ge­sell­schaft or with me if you have any ques­ti­ons about the trip, the itin­era­ry or the ship etc.

Plea­se click here for fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on about Arc­ti­ca II Ger­man. And have a look at the tri­plogs and pho­to gal­le­ries from the voy­a­ges that we have done in the past to get a good idea of how they are going and what might hap­pen. This trip will be shorter than the long trip in August, so we don’t plan to cir­cum­na­vi­ga­te Spits­ber­gen. The focus will be on hiking and natu­re expe­ri­ence in the major fjord sys­tems on the west coast of Spits­ber­gen, such as Isfjord, Bell­sund, For­lands­und and Kongsfjord. The hikes will, in avera­ge, be lon­ger than tho­se that we usual­ly do, for exam­p­le, on Anti­gua. Plea­se have a look at my page about arc­tic ter­rain (Ger­man) to get an idea of the con­di­ti­ons we will meet out in the field.

Polar bear in Advent­da­len

Again, the­re is a polar bear in Advent­da­len, not far from Lon­gye­ar­by­en. It was seen for the first time on Sun­day near Ope­raf­jel­let by a group of hikers; the Sys­sel­man­nen deci­ded to pick up the group by heli­c­op­ter to be on the safe side.

Polar bear in Adventdalen, helicopter

Polar bear in Advent­da­len: a heli­c­op­ter is used to remo­ve an anaes­the­ti­sed bear from the area (archi­ve image).

It is said that the polar bear in ques­ti­on is a lar­ge male, pos­si­bly the same ani­mal that was in the Advent­fjord area in sep­tem­ber. Attempts to sca­re it away with a heli­c­op­ter did not make much of an impres­si­on on the bear. As of Wed­nes­day, the polar bear was still in Advent­da­len, whe­re he was so far stay­ing within a limi­t­ed area. So far, the Sys­sel­man­nen has no plans to anaes­the­ti­se the bear and to fly it out. It is assu­med that the bear will just con­ti­nue with his ever-las­ting search for food and move on soo­ner or later.

The public is asked to be awa­re and alert.

Lice found in fur of arc­tic foxes

An alar­ming dis­co­very: lice have been found in the fur of arc­tic foxes. So far, arc­tic foxes were gene­ral­ly found to be free of lice, both on the Scan­di­na­vi­an main­land and in Spits­ber­gen.

Arctic fox: lice detected

Arc­tic fox with win­ter fur in good order. The fur can be affec­ted by lice to a degree that it does not insu­la­te any­mo­re suf­fi­ci­ent­ly.

A taxi­der­mist beca­me scep­ti­cal when he saw fur from Arc­tic foxes from Spits­ber­gen, which had been caught a year ago. The fur was visi­bly affec­ted in the neck area, with less hair than nor­mal, and small ani­mals were visi­ble in the fur. The­se were later iden­ti­fied as lice by a spe­cia­list in Trom­sø, as was now repor­ted by Sval­bard­pos­ten.

The foxes in ques­ti­on were caught a year ago in Bøda­len and Coles­da­len, both south of Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Now, all local fox hun­ters are encou­ra­ged to keep their eyes open. Should lice inde­ed be about to get estab­lished in arc­tic foxes, then the con­se­quen­ces might be dra­ma­tic, as foxes need an int­act fur to cope with the cold of the arc­tic win­ter.

But the first thing that needs to be coped with is a huge gap of sci­en­ti­fic know­ledge. The annu­al fox-hunt is curr­ent­ly ongo­ing in Spits­ber­gen. Foxes are still hun­ted by a very few pro­fes­sio­nal trap­pers and by lei­su­re hun­ters. The­re are 25 are­as for fox hun­ting in Spits­ber­gen, the­reof 23 in Nor­dens­ki­öld Land (Longyearbyen’s wide sur­roun­dings) and 2 in the area of Ny-Åle­sund.

The page for the weekend: Svenske­hu­set

The new page for the weekend (and bey­ond) is dedi­ca­ted to Svenske­hu­set at Kapp Thord­sen: built in 1872, is it today the oldest house on Spits­ber­gen that is still stan­ding. Ori­gi­nal­ly, the place was the focus of the Swe­dish dream to turn Spits­ber­gen into a Swe­dish colo­ny. But as soon as the next win­ter, 17 Nor­we­gi­an sail­ors died the­re under cir­cum­s­tances that remain­ed a mys­tery for more than 100 years. Sin­ce then, the house is also known as Spøkel­ses­hu­set (the haun­ted house).

Two more win­terings fol­lo­wed later, inclu­ding the Swe­dish expe­di­ti­on of the first Inter­na­tio­nal Polar Year in 1882-83. One of the expe­di­ti­on mem­bers was a young, then unknown inge­nie­er named Salo­mon August Andrée.


Svenske­hu­set at Kapp Thord­sen: Spitsbergen’s oldest house and site of seve­ral famous win­terings.
This ist just a screen­shot – click here for a vir­tu­al tour through Svenske­hu­set.

The­re is now a who­le weppa­ge dedi­ca­ted to Svenske­hu­set, with all of the sto­ries in some detail and – even bet­ter – a vir­tu­al tour that takes you through every room of the famous hous. The­re is a com­ple­te­ly new ver­si­on of the vir­tu­al tour that runs like a film – Click here and enjoy 🙂

Mine 7 back in pro­duc­ti­ve ope­ra­ti­on again

Yesterday’s news on this site men­tio­ned that repair works in mine 7, which was part­ly floo­ded by melt­wa­ter during the extre­me­ly warm days in July, were still ongo­ing. This was, howe­ver, alre­a­dy out­da­ted at the time of publi­ca­ti­on: the first coal left mine 7 alre­a­dy on Satur­day late evening, as the mining com­pa­ny Store Nor­ske Spits­ber­gen Kul­kom­pa­ni told Sval­bard­pos­ten.

Mine 7

Mine 7 (to the right of the image cent­re) on the moun­tain Brein­osa near Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Fur­ther back and to the left the small ice cap Fox­fon­na.
Lar­ge parts of mine 7 are situa­ted under Fox­fon­na.

A lot of repair work nee­ded to be done after the floo­ding in July. Among­st others, lar­ge parts of the elec­tri­cal equip­ment had to be rene­wed. Now, coal can be ship­ped again to the local coal power plant in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and to inter­na­tio­nal cus­to­mers. Pro­duc­tion work is now going on almost 24/7 in two long shifts to pro­du­ce as much coal as pos­si­ble. Nevert­hel­ess, Store Nor­ske will pro­ba­b­ly have to accept an eco­no­mic­aly poor result this year, with the pro­duc­tion stop and expen­si­ve repair works in mine 7 being only one fac­tor. Other fac­tors include the gene­ral dif­fi­cul­ties of the world eco­no­my due to coro­na and the clo­sing of Sveagru­va.

Smal­ler repair works will still be going on for some time while pro­duc­tion is alre­a­dy going on. Store Nor­ske aims also at making sure that a floo­ding on this sca­le will not hap­pen again. Lar­ge parts of mine 7 are situa­ted under the ice cap Fox­fon­na, so melt­wa­ter ingres­si­ons during the sum­mer sea­son are not unhe­ard of, but nor­mal­ly it has been pos­si­ble to con­trol them by pum­ping the water out. Lar­ger pumps will now be part of the tech­ni­cal solu­ti­on to this pro­blem.

Nor­t­hern news

The polar night has sett­led down on Spits­ber­gen and the various lock­downs and tra­vel rest­ric­tions rela­ted to Coro­na any­way. The world’s atten­ti­on is focus­sed on events else­whe­re rather than the Arc­tic, whe­re life is going on with minor exci­te­ments from the depart­ments “busi­ness as usu­al + ever­y­day mad­ness”.

The Spits­ber­gen-news over­view as of late October/early Novem­ber:

The pre­vious week began with spec­ta­cu­lar fire­works of nor­t­hern lights over Spits­ber­gen as well as other places in the auro­ra oval as much as they had a free sky in the appro­pria­te moments. Many ama­zing pho­tos came from Lon­gye­ar­by­en in tho­se days.

Northern light Longyearbyen

Nor­t­hern light over Advent­da­len near Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Mine 7, which was part­ly floo­ded with melt­wa­ter during the record-warm days in July, is still not in pro­duc­ti­ve ope­ra­ti­on again. We have been hea­ring for a while that rou­ti­ne work will start soon again, but this has not yet hap­pen­ed as of the time of wri­ting (Mon­day, 02 Novem­ber). Curr­ent­ly, the mining com­pa­ny Store Nor­ske expects pro­duc­tion to start up again this week. Coal from mine 7 is used in the local power plant and it is ship­ped to cus­to­mers main­ly in Ger­ma­ny, who have pla­ced orders again after a stop during the Coro­na lock­down in spring.

Gal­le­ri Sval­bard, so far loca­ted in Nyby­en, has announ­ced to move to cen­tral Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Nyby­en, an upper part of Lon­gye­ar­by­en which is suf­fe­ring from a risk of snow ava­lan­ches and rock­falls, will then lose a main tou­rist attrac­tion.

With Sval­Bad, the­re is a new sau­na in the port of Lon­gye­ar­by­en. It is hea­ted with wood and offers the oppor­tu­ni­ty for a very effi­ci­ent cool-down in the fjord 🙂

The Asso­cia­ti­on of Arc­tic Expe­di­ti­on Crui­se Ope­ra­tors (AECO) has announ­ced indus­try-wide stan­dards for gui­des, thus taking up a deve­lo­p­ment that has been ongo­ing for years.

Guides Spitsbergen

For many years, we have been taking care of good teams our­sel­ves.
Due to the growth of tou­rism also in the polar are­as, howe­ver, it is wit­hout any doubt a good thing to estab­lish indus­try-wide stan­dards.
This is a pho­to from times long gone by – a gre­at team, wit­hout any ques­ti­on! From left to right: Cap­tain Alex­an­der Pruss, a young Rolf Stan­ge (that’s me), Peter Bal­win and Mat­thi­as Kopp, during a Spits­ber­gen-voya­ge on board Pro­fes­sor Mul­ta­novs­kiy in 2009.
Tho­se were the days 🙂
My apo­lo­gies for get­ting lost in nost­al­gia for a brief moment.
Pho­to © Bär­bel Erwert, who was our ship doc­tor.


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