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Home → March, 2020

Monthly Archives: March 2020 − News & Stories


Polar bear died from cir­cu­la­to­ry col­lap­se

The fema­le polar bear that was ana­es­the­ti­sed near Lon­gye­ar­by­en in late Janu­a­ry and that died during heli­co­p­ter trans­port is found to have died from cir­cu­la­to­ry col­lap­se as a con­se­quence of a com­bi­na­ti­on of stress, shock and medi­ca­ti­on, accord­ing to the Sys­sel­man­nen.

Sys­sel­man­nen (poli­ce) and Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te experts had star­ted to sca­re the polar bear away from Ves­t­pyn­ten near Lon­gye­ar­by­en by heli­co­p­ter in the late after­noon of 30 Janu­a­ry. The bear was moved across Advent­fjord and – part­ly by using snow mobi­les – into a side val­ley, whe­re she was final­ly ana­es­the­ti­sed. A total of 2.5 hours pas­sed from the begin­ning of the ope­ra­ti­on until she was put to sleep: a long time for an ani­mal that is not made to run fast over lon­ger distan­ces. It is for good rea­son that nobo­dy is gene­ral­ly allo­wed to fol­low a polar bear that has chan­ged its beha­viour so it might be at risk.

This seems to be exact­ly what hap­pen­ed in this case, con­si­de­ring a cha­se over 2.5 hours by heli­co­p­ter and snow mobi­le (the­re is men­ti­on of a short rest which is inclu­ded in that time span), alt­hough “polar bear exper­ti­se” was pre­sent in shape of an expert from the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te. The pro­ce­du­re was obvious­ly too much for the bear, who recei­ved fur­ther medi­ca­ti­on after the initi­al aen­esthe­ti­sa­ti­on and died in the heli­co­p­ter during trans­port to Kinn­vi­ka on Nord­aus­t­land.

Eisbären (Edgeøya)

Polar bear fami­ly: mother (left, in front) and two second year cubs in good shape.
Mid August, Edgeøya.

The bear was a fema­le with a very low weight of 62 kg. It is belie­ved that she was a first year cub or a very small second year cub. In eit­her case, she should still have been tog­e­ther with her mother.

Coro­na-virus: Spits­ber­gen in lock­down-mode

After a lucky return from Ant­arc­ti­ca, the only con­ti­nent cur­r­ent­ly not direct­ly affec­ted by the Coro­na-virus (but cer­tain­ly indi­rect­ly), I am now about to catch up with the Spits­ber­gen news on ths site. It is not that not­hing has hap­pen­ed up north. To start whe­re I stop­ped a few weeks ago: the coal mine Svea Nord was inde­ed offi­cial­ly clo­sed with a litt­le cere­mo­ny on 04 March, put­ting an end to a good 100 years of mining histo­ry in Sveagru­va.

I’ll get back to other issu­es over the next cou­p­le of days. Now, the one thing that keeps the world busy and in awe: the Coro­na-virus – what else? So far, the virus has not reached Spits­ber­gen. But it will not be pos­si­ble to keep the sett­le­ments ful­ly iso­la­ted from the rest of the world fore­ver. The ques­ti­on is, as any­whe­re, how to con­troll this tran­si­ti­on – if a con­trol­led tran­si­ti­on is pos­si­ble at all.

So far, the idea is to keep all sett­le­ments as iso­la­ted as pos­si­ble to pro­tect the local popu­la­ti­on from the virus. Tou­rism has come to a com­ple­te stop. Ever­y­bo­dy who is now tra­vel­ling to Spits­ber­gen has to remain in 14 days of qua­ran­ti­ne. Excep­ti­ons can only be made by the aut­ho­ri­ties under strict con­di­ti­ons if reques­ted by the employ­er or an insti­tu­ti­on. Gene­ral­ly, only Nor­we­gi­an citi­zens, resi­dents or peop­le with a work per­mit (does not app­ly in Sval­bard, but you would need to have a good pro­fes­sio­nal rea­son to tra­vel up the­re right now) are allo­wed in.

Snow mobiles Longyearbyen, Corona-virus

Snow mobi­les in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: cur­r­ent­ly silen­ced by the Coro­na-virus.

This will clear­ly have a signi­fi­cant impact on the local eco­no­my: March and April are usual­ly high sea­son wit­hin tou­rism. Hotels and acti­vi­ties are usual­ly ful­ly boo­ked. Cur­r­ent­ly, howe­ver, many com­pa­nies and jobs in the ser­vice indus­try are at risk, and many gui­des have alrea­dy left the island, wai­t­ing for bet­ter times in their home coun­tries which are usual­ly che­a­per pla­ces to stay.

This is now in for­ce until 13 April but may be exten­ded. The future deve­lo­p­ment remains to be seen, also with regards to the sum­mer ship­ping sea­son.

Spits­ber­gen, the Ant­arc­tic and the Coro­na virus

The win­ter sea­son should be super busy at this time in Spits­ber­gen, but ins­tead it is very silent now in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and Bar­ents­burg. No tou­rists the­re at all. The only thing that you might hear is the tou­rism indus­try cry­ing.

And on this blog and news site: also not­hing at the time being.

The Ant­arc­tic is the only coro­na-free con­ti­nent, but that does not mean that it does not affect us here in the south. We have now been to the Ant­arc­tic for a while and I am still far south with Orte­li­us. So I guess that I am cur­r­ent­ly the last one in the world who gets any news that seem to be chan­ging by the minu­te and hence it would pro­bab­ly be sil­ly to post any „news“ here.

Atlantic Ocean

But I did and do still wri­te about our jour­ney here in the south, in the blog on www.antarctic.eu. Also here, the Coro­na virus cur­r­ent­ly governs the world. No, not direct­ly. We on Orte­li­us are all well, health-wise. But it sends us on a stran­ge jour­ney. Not as plan­ned back to the Ant­arc­tic Pen­in­su­la, but up north and back home. Slow­ly and with qui­te a few extra twists and bends that we still need to find out about. Read more in my ant­arc­tic blog.

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