Sunday, 1 September 2013

A Walrus day!

Today, we reached the sandy little island of Moffen – the northern most point of our cruise – around 8:00am. The sun gave the island a brown orange colour and in the same colour we saw our first Walruses on the beach. We could be happy. We have been able to watch two bigger groups of these giants under the seal. Most of them were sleeping but there was at least a little movement in the groups so that we could see the huge tasks. Here at the beach of Moffen you can see only the males. The females and their calves stay more near Franz Josef Land. It was a perfect start for an expedition day.

We used the time after breakfast and our first landing for lectures about ice and birds. Around 11:00 we reached Kinnvika in the Hinlopen Strait. Here we got the possibility to explore the scientific station that was built for the International Geophysical Year in 1957-1958. The landing gave us a good overview how the scientists lived during their research job at this time; and we had the feeling they did not live bad. They had good warm houses with heating, a sauna, offices, workrooms and laboratories. It looked like that they had a good time during their life here in Spitsbergen.

In the afternoon we passed by Alkefjellet. This bird cliff is up to 100m high and one of the most important bird cliffs in the Hinlopen Strait. During May and June the cliff is full of breeding birds, Glaucous Gulls, Kittiwakes, and especially Brünnich’s Guillemots. 60 000 breeding pairs come each year for breeding. At this time of the year the migration south had started already, but we could still see some different species flying around; adult ones and the youngsters from this year.

Our last landing for the day was planned in Trollneset, where we hope to see Walruses again. We could see these creatures already with our binoculars from the ship but then, suddenly we saw another creature showing up; a Polar bear was waiting for us at the landing side to welcome us in his kingdom.   So that meant no possibility for a landing, no longer hike, no kayak adventure this evening. But our expedition leader Karin is well known for her fast changes in the program. To give everybody the chance to see the Walruses and the Polar bear we started with short boat cruises. This evening changed to an unforgettable adventure in the golden evening sun.

So we had Walrus observation for breakfast and Walrus observation together with a Polar bear as a late night event.  Can you imagine a better expedition day?