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Lovénøyane: Juttaholmen

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Kongsfjord. Lové­nøya­ne: Jutt­ahol­men – vir­tu­al pan­or­amic tour

Lové­nøya­ne: Jutt­ahol­men 1

The­re is a group of small islands in inner Kongsfjor­den known as Lové­nøya­ne, but they are known to few only. In sum­mer, when most peop­le are visi­t­ing Kongsfjor­den who get the­re at all, it is not allo­wed to go ashore or even get wit­hin 300 m from the shore. The Lové­nøya­ne are then home to bree­ding geese and eider ducks and they are pro­tec­ted as a bird sanc­tua­ry. Only some sci­en­tists from Ny-Åle­sund visit the Lové­nøya­ne on a regu­lar basis to do rese­arch work on the bird popu­la­ti­ons. The birds are get­ting fewer and fewer, as the islands are now annu­al­ly visi­ted by polar bears who are sca­ven­ging on the nests. The tun­dra bree­ders are easy prey for pre­d­a­tors that can reach the islands.

It is an open ques­ti­on if polar bears have learnt a new beha­viour, if it is an adap­t­ati­on to feed on birds’ nests on tun­dra islands rather than seals on ice of if the Bar­ents Sea popu­la­ti­on of polar bears, which has been gro­wing sin­ce pro­tec­tion in 1973 (it had been severely hun­ted until then) is moving back into its peri­phe­ry now, as more indi­vi­du­als are crow­ding the core are­as. Spitsbergen’s west coast is the peri­phe­ry, seen from most polar bears’ per­spec­ti­ve. It is only pos­si­ble to spe­cu­la­te, we don’t know this. May­be a bit of ever­ything.

Lové­nøya­ne: Jutt­ahol­men 2

As we can only visit Lové­nøya­ne after 15th August every year, we will have autumn light. With a bit of luck, we have beau­ti­ful light of the low sun for hours abo­ve the famous moun­tains and gla­ciers sur­roun­ding Kongsfjord.

The tun­dra has been fer­ti­li­zed through thousands of years by bree­ding birds and one has to move around care­ful­ly in order not to dama­ge the vege­ta­ti­on. Espe­cial­ly mos­ses have built up thick lay­ers of orga­nic mat­ter.

Lové­nøya­ne: Jutt­ahol­men 3

The Lové­nøya­ne com­pri­se several small islands which have all their indi­vi­du­al cha­rac­te­ris­tics. Geo­lo­gi­cal­ly, they are part­ly made up of old base­ment rocks (fine-crystal­li­ne car­bo­na­tes or „marb­le“) and part­ly beau­ti­ful­ly red­dish Old Red sand­stone. Plei­sto­ce­ne gla­ciers have left lar­ge erra­tic boul­ders on the islands.

Jutt­ahol­men, as this island is cal­led, was named after the house­kee­per of Gun­nar Isach­sen, who was the lea­der of the expe­di­ti­on that map­ped and named the island 1909 or 1910. That is how it worked back then. Times have chan­ged.

It is said that Ernest Mansfield’s famous Nort­hern Explo­ra­ti­on Com­pa­ny (NEC), who had the marb­ly quar­ry “Marb­le Island”, now rather known as (Ny) Lon­don or Camp Mans­field on Blom­strand­hal­vøya, mined some breccia on Jutt­ahol­men. A breccia is a sedi­ment which is not of high eco­no­mic value and it is hard to ima­gi­ne the pur­po­se of mining it on the small and logisti­cal­ly very deman­ding island of Jutt­ahol­men. They can not have mined lar­ge quan­ti­ties, rather a few tons if anything real­ly at all. In con­trast to many other pla­ces on Spits­ber­gen whe­re the NEC was acti­ve, they did not build a hut on Jutt­ahol­men. The­re are visi­ble remains of an old camp site on top of the island, which may have ser­ved as accom­mo­da­ti­on with litt­le com­fort for the NEC workers. Lack of drin­king water was only one of several pro­blems.

Lové­nøya­ne: Jutt­ahol­men 4

The hut that is stan­ding on Jutt­ahol­men was built in 1954-55 by peop­le from Ny Åle­sund, so it is youn­ger than the acti­vi­ties of the Nort­hern Explo­ra­ti­on Com­pa­ny. It was main­ly built for free time pur­po­ses. Now the sci­en­tists from Ny-Åle­sund are the only peop­le who use this hut on a more or less regu­lar basis.

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last modification: 2020-08-25 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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