Ice Bears Trip: Day 6

Thursday 6/26

Holly, Demetria and I had the privilege of writing today’s Daily Expedition Report and contributing our photographs to highlight events of the day.  Here is an excerpt about our wake-up call this morning:

We awoke this morning at the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet at Kapp Fanshawe, on the west side of the Hinlopen Strait near Lomfjorden. The weather was a bit colder than we had experienced so far, so we donned our warm gear and headed outside before breakfast. As the ship travelled along the cliffs, we were able to observe hundreds of thousands of birds as they nested and rested, flew all around us, dove for food, took off from the water with wings flapping furiously, and landed in the water with legs splayed wide. Our main feathered friend at the cliffs was the Brunnich’s Guillemot, a black and white auk. These birds lay their eggs directly on the cliff ledges and can dive up to 300 feet into the ocean to find food. The sights and sounds of this extremely large nesting colony were an amazing way to start our day.

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Today we also enjoyed a lecture about Svalbard’s geology, glaciers, and sea ice – so much to learn!  In addition, we had a photography session with our resident amazing National Geographic photographer Susan Seubert, who gave some great tips on her workflow.

We were able to get off the boat for bit in a location that at first looked intimidating (steep hike) and a bit boring (nothing but rocks), but it ended up being one of my favorite hikes of the trip in the Arctic desert along the Palanderbukta Fjord.  After a brisk hike up a rocky hill, we began to look closely at the rocks and found fossils everywhere we looked!  We also got into a bit of a snowball fight and had a ball belly sledding down a snow bank.  At the end of the hike, we had to step over ice chunks on the beach – definitely not the norm for any of the beaches I have previously visited in June.

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Later in the day we continued north along the coast of Nordaustlandet and searched for bears on the fast ice of the Wahlenberg Fjord.  We did see a couple of bears at a distance and enjoyed cruising through a new form of ice for us – pancake ice!

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After dinner, we headed as far north as we could before encountering thick ice and fog – and we made it to 80.07°N!

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Thursday brainstorming

  • Different types of ice – learn about and simulate them in the classroom
  • Frozen Planet, Autumn episode? Guillemots
  • Geology of Svalbard
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