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Liefdefjord: Andøyane

360° panorama images and general background

Andøyane (“The duck islands”) are a group of small islands in outer Liefdefjord, south of Reinsdyrflya. They are low-lying, mostly almost flat, and seen from a distance, they don’t appear to be spectacular. But if you get close, then the mixture of little beaches, curved shorelines, red rocks, flowers and lichens and many other little scenic details unfold a charme that is hard to escape.

Andøyane Panorama 1: Sørøstre Andøya

The largest island, Store Andøya, is a good two kilometres in diametre, the second largest one – Vesle Andøya – less than half that size and the remaining ones are even smaller. This first panorama is from the southeastern island. It does not have an individual name, let’s just call her Sørøstre Andøya (“southeastern duck island”) here. It is a good 700 metres long, but wherever you are, you are never more than a good 50 metres away from the shore.

Andøyane Panorama 2: Søre Andøya

Also this island, “Søre (southern) Andøya”, does not have a name on the map, and it is hardly more than 600 across. Nevertheless, a little walk across the island can be very rewarding. As the name of the islands suggests, there are a lot of birds breeding here: next to the common eider ducks which breed here in large numbers, there are plenty of arctic terns, grey phalaropes and purple sandpipers, and if you look carefully, chances to see a king eider are quite good, to mention just a few common species for this area.

Andøyane Panorama 3: Søre Andøya

So there is good reason to give these islands legal protection beyond the general rules of the Svalbardmiljølov (Svalbard environmental law): since 2020, they are a bird reserve, which means that it is not allowed to approach them to less than 300 metres during the breeding period, legally defined as the time from 15 May to 15 August.

This does unfortunately not protect the islands from the plastic litter which the currents bring. It is mostly what is thrown overboard from fishing vessels. And we collect it on the beaches as much as we can. We – that’s both me personally with colleagues and passengers and others in the arctic tourism industry – have already done a number of beach clean-ups on Andøyane, but I am afraid many more will be needed until the problem is solved, if this ever happens 🙁

Andøyane Panorama 3: Søre Andøya

Landscape-wise, Andøyane are very similar to Reinsdyrflya, the large plain to the north of Liefdefjord. There are some huge erratic boulders, small lakes and wetland areas and series of old beach ridges and other geological evidence for the post-glacial land uplift. The sandstone belongs to the Devonian Old Red sandstone and has hematite, hence the beautiful reddish colour.


last modification: 2020-08-29 · copyright: Rolf Stange