Monday, 19 August 2013

Polar bear hike

Many were looking forward to do a longer hike today at Kapp Lee, Edgeøya. But as the landing was about to start a "yellow moving rock" was spotted from the bridge. A polar bear had decided to do our hike and we stayed safely down at the beach together with the walruses. Edgeøya and Barentsøya have a long history, the independent whalers did their hunting in this area in the 1600. The whalers that did not belong to a big company were not welcome on the other parts of Spitsbergen. The Pomors (the Russian trappers) were the first that started with land based trapping and one can find old trapping stations many places on the Island. Norwegian later learned the trapping tradition from the Pomors and there are still today active Norwegian trappers.

At Kapp Lee we had a closer look at a hut build by the crew from the vessel Elvira. As many buildings on Svalbard this has been used later for other purposes. A Norwegian trapper Bjørnsen stayed here in 1920. The Russian-Swedish expedition used this as a base for some time when they did the scientific expedition to determine the shape of the earth in 1902. They measured the angles between the surrounding peaks to collect data to prove that the earth was not completely round.

On board the vessel there was a full program for those who were still hungry for information. The Expedition team was present on the observation lounge to answer question about nature and history. The Expedition Leader was of course asked to share the experience from the camping some days ago when the staff members had a close encounter with a polar bear. After an hour of questions and answers many where still eager for more knowledge and attended the lecture either about Longyearbyen or the one about the penguins of the north. The ship was surrounded by 30 humpbacks and fin whales that put on a spectacular show for us.

This evening we saw the expedition team and the crew from a completely different angle. How would have known that they are all professional models? With a big smile they presented clothing from the shop on board.