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Isøyane: Nordre Isøya

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The Isøya­ne (“The ice islands”) are a small group of smalll islands near Torell­b­rea­ne, just off the west coast of Spits­ber­gen, bet­ween Horn­sund and Bellsund. This coast­li­ne is very expo­sed and it has a lot of shal­lows; it is thus only rare­ly visi­ted by tou­rists (or anyo­ne else, for that mat­ter). But if you hap­pen to come to this area on a good day: it is worth it, it is beau­ti­ful.

Pano 1 – Isøya­ne: Nord­re Isøya

Here we are on Isøya­ne, or, to be pre­cise, on Nord­re Isøya (“Nort­hern ice island”). It is less then a kilo­met­re across. Next to it, the­re is only an islet of 500 metres and many rocks. The main island, with the lar­ge gla­ciers Torell­b­rea­ne and the asso­cia­ted morai­ne land­s­cape, is a good kilo­met­re away.

Pano 2 – Isøya­ne: Nord­re Isøya – shal­low waters

In this pan­ora­ma you can see how shal­low the waters near Nord­re Isøya are. It took me inde­ed a while to find the one place which is more or less con­ve­ni­ent for a small boat lan­ding.

Pano 3 – Isøya­ne: Nord­re Isøya – rocky shores

Here you can see what the pro­blem is: the­re are beau­ti­ful beaches, but the near­shore waters have a lot of rocky shal­lows. The­re is, actual­ly, a wide, rocky plat­form just under water, which makes the island lar­ge­ly inac­ces­si­ble espe­cial­ly at low water.

Pano 4 – Isøya­ne: Nord­re Isøya – Tun­dra and bird sanc­tua­ry

It is good that natu­re has crea­ted some pro­tec­tion for the Isøya­ne and simi­lar islands, becau­se birds breed in pla­ces like this in lar­ge num­bers, most­ly com­mon eider ducks, geese, arc­tic terns, pur­p­le sand­pi­pers, grey phalar­o­pes and red-throated divers. Fer­ti­li­sa­ti­on with gua­no from the birds has crea­ted a thick car­pet of tun­dra with a lot of mos­ses. It is self-evi­dent that you have to move around very care­ful­ly in pla­ces like this and avoid sen­si­ti­ve sites com­ple­te­ly!

And, actual­ly, the Isøya­ne are a bird sanc­tua­ry. That means that it is not allo­wed to go ashore during the bree­ding sea­son, defi­ned as the peri­od 15 May to 15 August, and on top of that, you have to keep a mini­mum distance of 300 metres from the nea­rest shore (inclu­ding off­shore rocks).

In ear­lier times, trap­pers used to visit the Isøya­ne and other, simi­lar islands such as the Dun­øya­ne, which are not far away, to collect down from com­mon eider nests, some­thing that pro­vi­ded them with an appre­cia­ted extra inco­me.

Pano 5 – Isøya­ne: Nord­re Isøya – the hig­hest moun­tain 🙂

The­re is not­hing even remo­te­ly resemb­ling a moun­tain on the small and low-lying island of Nord­re Isøya – this rocky hill is just 16 m high, accord­ing to the map! But the view is nevertheless beau­ti­ful.

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last modification: 2019-12-05 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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