81° 41,317N, 17° 23.362E
This year the sea north of Svalbard has been free from ice. This means that the vast pack ice has required some patience to reach, but once you have reached it awaits exciting wildlife and amazing views.
Today our target was to reach the pack ice. Most years the ice streches all the way down to the northern shores of Svalbard, but this year is different, and after more than seven hours cruise northward we finally reached the first ice. Northern fulmar, little auks and brünnich’s guillemots were all flying around the ship as we slowly were making our way through the ice. We were also delighted to see several bearded seals resting on the ice as well. Just before lunch, we spotted another huge group of seals resting on the ice far away in the horizon. As we got closer we could see that many of them had a black and white fur - harp seals! This charismatic Arctic seal is tied to the pack ice and rarely seen in large numbers. Now we had more than one thousand seals resting on the ice in front of the ship! After lunch, we were eager to get a closer look at the seals and therefore we put our Zodiacs into the water as quickly as we could. By carefully approaching the seals with paddles we spent two hours watching the seals before heading back to the ship after another spectacular day in the Arctic.
Since 1999, we have taken travellers on once-in-a-lifetime trips to Svalbard. From May to September our three small expedition ships, carrying only 12 and 53 passengers, explore this magnificent Arctic archipelago. Unpredictability and flexibility are the main keywords when you travel with PolarQuest as the exact route depends on weather, ice conditions and wildlife encounters. Sometimes you might be woken up in the middle of the night if a polar bear has been spotted on the ice.