Monday, 22 August 2011

Monacobreen & Jotunkjeldene

We were due to go cruising in the Polar Cirkel boats along the Monaco Glacier front at 08:30 but heavy fog and thick ice delayed our starting time.  The Expedition Team first made a trial run. Using hand held GPS’s they were able to safely navigate to the glacier and back to the ship without incident. The announcement was made that we would go ahead as planned and soon the first boats headed into the fog. Closer to the glacier the fog parted revealing all 5 kilometres of the terminus of Monaco Glacier.  As is usually the case when fog settles in, there was nary a whisper of wind.
Around 10:00 the fog lifted giving us 100% visibility once again. Monaco seemed to be calving more than usual this morning.  Many of us saw and heard large chunks of blue ice fall into the sea with a thundering splash.  Each time Kittiwakes and Glaucous Gulls would flock to the site of the fallen ice in the hopes that a tasty morsel had been stirred to the surface.
It took over four hours to give everyone a chance to go cruising through the ice but by 13:30 everyone was back on the ship and we headed off in the direction of Jotunkjeldene in Bockfjorden -  the site of our afternoon landing.

If you are a geologist you might fall in love with the land surrounding the geothermal hotsprings of Jotunkjeldene. Beautiful glaciers circle the landing site.  Deep red mountains are nearby to the east and the Sverrefjell volcano is in the south.    A variety of wild flowers were still in bloom including Golden Whitlow Grass and Svalbard poppy.  Everywhere there were signs of Reindeer and on the opposite shore we could see three Polar Bears!  Wow!  What a place.

As we departed at 20:00 Fram cruised nearer the shore with the Polar Bears to get a better look.  Sure enough, a mother bear with one cub were close enough to the shore line where we could see them whilst enjoying our dinner in the dining room!  Incredible.