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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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