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Moffen

Mof­fen

Map Moffen

Gene­ral: Mof­fen is a fasci­na­ting litt­le island. After the near-exc­tinc­tion of wal­rus in Sval­bard in the midd­le of the 20th cen­tu­ry, Mof­fen play­ed an important rule in re-estab­li­shing the spe­ci­es here, a pro­cess which is still going on. Today, the­re are often lar­ger num­bers of wal­rus hau­led out at the sou­thern tip of the island, some­ti­mes more than 100 ani­mals. This is the rea­son why Mof­fen is pro­tec­ted. Approach during the sum­mer (15th May to 15th Sep­tem­ber) is limi­ted to a mini­mum distance of 500 metres. The waters around Mof­fen are very shal­low, so most ships stay fur­ther off for nau­ti­cal rea­sons also. Mof­fen is situa­ted direct­ly north of 80°N. This and the wal­rus, which you can see from the distance, makes Mof­fen a popu­lar stop for ships, which keep drif­ting off the south end for a litt­le while and then sail away again.

For more, detail­ed infor­ma­ti­on: the Gui­de­book Spits­ber­gen-Sval­bard

Guidebook Spitsbergen-Svalbard

Click here to see some 360 degrees pan­ora­ma images from Mof­fen.

Crossing 80°N is always a good excurse for a drink

Cros­sing 80°N is always a good excur­se for a drink.

Geo­lo­gy: Mof­fen con­sists ent­i­re­ly of several seri­es of beach rid­ges, which have been thrown up from various direc­tions on the very shal­low ground, thus forming a ring-shaped island. Bet­ween the beach rid­ges, the­re is a lagoon with bra­ckish water. The­re is no solid rock expo­sed on Mof­fen.

Recom­men­ded book for fur­ther, well-digesta­ble (real­ly!) info about geo­lo­gy and land­s­cape of Sval­bard.

Land­s­cape: Total­ly flat island with the shape of a drop with a lagoon in the midd­le.

Moffen

Mof­fen.

Flo­ra and Fau­na: Flo­ra: Not­hing other than some mos­ses near the sou­thern tip, whe­re wal­rus were slaugh­te­red in num­bers over several cen­tu­ries, and algae in depres­si­ons near the lagoon.

Des­pi­te the small size, Mof­fen has some inte­res­ting wild­life, even though obser­va­ti­on oppor­tu­nities are not exact­ly gre­at due to the legal­ly requi­red mini­num distance. Arc­tic terns are bree­ding in lar­ge num­bers, and the­re are a few pairs of the Sabine’s gull, which is extre­me­ly rare in Sval­bard. It is dif­fi­cult to see, though, amongst all the terns and Kit­ti­wa­kes. Wal­rus like the shal­low waters as fee­ding grounds and have a haul-out site (res­ting place) here.

Histo­ry: Alrea­dy the wha­lers knew Mof­fen in the 17th cen­tu­ry, so the island beca­me soon a slaugh­te­ring place for wal­rus. The name, legend has it, was a rather unfriend­ly nick­na­me for Ger­man sailors on Dut­ch wha­ling ships. But I have heard several times from Dut­ch peop­le, that it is more likely to be descrip­ti­ve, refer­ring to the shape of the island, which resem­bles a ‘Muff’, a woo­len thing in which you can put your hands from both sides to pro­tect them from cold.

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last modification: 2019-02-09 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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