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Edgeøya: Tjuvfjordskarvet

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Inner Tjuvfjord on Edgeøya is not exactly amongst the well-trodden paths in Svalbard. Uncharted waters make access difficult. Historically, though, this area was visited a lot in the early 20th century by trappers, mostly Norwegians, who wanted to hunt polar bears. There are still some huts in the larger area that date back to those years, such as the one that „polar bear king“ Henry Rudi built on Andréetangen or the famous hut Bjørneborg on Halvmåneøya.

Inner Tjuvfjorden was rarely visited by trappers (or anyone else) and when, then usually to hunt reindeer for their own supplies.

In many places there is a wide, flat coastal plain between the mountains and the coast. Here at Tjuvfjordskarvet, on the west side of Tjuvfjord, this coastal plain is very flat and barren. There are many old whalebones, and there, the tundra is a bit greener than elsewhere.

After a walk of several kilometers we have now reached the mountain chain, which is, characteristically for Edgeøya and neighbouring Barentsøya, flat on the top. There is an isolated little mountain called Fløya at the southern end of this chain of plateau-topped mountains. This first panorama was shot at the foot of the canyon that separates Fløya from the neighbouring mountains.

Panorama Tjuvfjordskarvet 1/4

Here we are a little bit higher up, on the shoulder of the canyon, next to the entrance. Canyons like this one are typical for Edgeøya (and Barentsøya). They cut always into the same series of sediment layers which are easily eroded but able to support steep slopes. The size of this particular canyon is quite impressive, but there are, in contrast to other ones, only very few breeding birds on the slopes. Here, there are only some black guillemots spread on the narrow ledges.

Panorama Tjuvfjordskarvet 2/4

After a short ascent we have reached the plateau in an altitude of a good 250 metres. This plateau is wide-stretching, reaching several kilometres further to the northeast between Tjuvfjord and the glaciated inland of Edgeøya. The ascent takes us across weathered sedimentary rocks dating into the Triassic. You may find fossils including mussels and ammonites in these rocks, or even pieces of bones belonging to marine dinosaurs (pliosaur, plesiosaur). Just remember that it is not allowed to take anything away from here, Edgeøya is a nature reserve and everything is strictly protected.

Panorama Tjuvfjordskarvet 3/4

We continue a bit higher up on this plateau to get the full view. This is really worth the effort: we have good views of the coastal plain, where the interaction of current and sediment supply from a glacial river has created an interesting series of small peninsulas, islands and shallow lagoons, the wide Tjuvfjord and the large lagoon of Tjuvfjordlaguna, currently trapped in drift ice, in the distance.

Panorama Tjuvfjordskarvet 4/4

last modification: 2019-09-10 · copyright: Rolf Stange