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Bjørne Øer

The Bjørne Øer („Bear Islands“, Greenlandic: Nanut Qeqertait) are situated at the northeastern corner of Milne Land at some kind of fjord crossing: south and east is Hall Bredning, the wide-open waters of the middle part of Scoresbysund. To the west is the majestic Øfjord (Ikâsakajik), and to the north the even bigger Nordvestfjord (Kangertertivarmit Kangertivat).

The Bjørneøer are a wunderful, impressive world in themselves. Considering the huge landscapes anywhere around them, one might be tempted to describe this archipelago as „small“, but it isn’t. The largest island is more than 10 km long and up to 440 m high. At the same time, it is very narrow. Being shaped by ice age glaciers and then partly drowned in the rising sea of the early Holocene, this largest island forms an impressive sharp ârete (ridge). Climbers can enjoy some magnificent views, but even if these high, steep parts are out of reach for you, you can get great views from lower, easily reached elevations in a number of places.

Today, the Bjørneøer are obviously uninhabited, but this was different in the past. Earlier inhabitants were not tempted by the great scenery to settle there, but by good hunting opportunities, and these are due to currents that keep some of the nearby waters open even in the winter, creating a so-called polynya. This attracts wildlife that need access both to water and to air, such as seals and narwhales. There are still inconspicuous, but nevertheless storytelling remains of dwelling sites to be seen here and there on some of the islands.

The waters between the islands are uncharted, but smaller vessels can find good anchorage in beautiful natural harbours such as Jyttes Havn at the extreme western end of Bjørneøer. It is a favourite for well-seasoned polar expeditioners including Arved Fuchs, who has been there with his famous sailing ship Dagmar Aaen, and Heimir Harðarson, a seaman from Húsavík in Iceland, who knows all tricks in the book and who enjoys being there every time he visits with his beautiful wooden sailing boats Hildur and Ópal.

Panoramas

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last modification: 2014-01-04 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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