Thursday, 17 June 2010

Hornsund: flowers, Belugas and a Polar Bear- June 17

Glacier front, high mountain tops, Belugas in the fjord swimming among the ice and a polar bear waiting patiently for a catch at a hole- enough hints about our day?

The scenery alone is impressive enough in Spitsbergen’s southernmost fjord- eight large glaciers are calving into the Sund while in the background you see Hornsundtind, the third- highest mountain of Svalbard. We landed at Gnålodden- a nice place and good for a short walk. There is a large sea bird colony, and due to the rich fertilization you find some moss and lots of saxifraga. Trappers have been in the area for a long time due to the earlier hunting of polar bears and the hut you can see was in use until 1971.

Bears and foxes.... Today, we did not see a trapper hunting in Burgerbukta, but a polar bear! And we did see a pot of Belugas (White Whales) swimming in the brush ice! The Beluga belongs to the toothed-whales and is up to 1.500kg heavy. The name is a bit misleading as they only turn to a creamy color at the age of approximately 7 years while the younger once have a rather grayish color. And one tip: if you ever come on board, bring your binoculars!

Now we are on the way to Bjørnøya- time for lectures, information briefings and the curious feeling what tomorrow will bring!