Bear Island, walrus & midnight sun
PolarQuest’s guides are blogging on board M/S Quest. Below please find blog from some of the days on the expedition “Svalbard, Lofoten & Bear Island.
19th May – Bjørnøya (Bear Island)
In the morning we reached Björnøya and anchored in the protected bay Sörhamna. Here we enjoyed a wonderful Zodiac cruise after breakfast. Beneath the high bird cliffs in the south-east corners of the island, we were overwhelmed with the intensive activity of thousands and thousands of birds. In the middle of all the common and Brünnich’s guillemots, there were also a few pairs of gannets residing on top of a steep cliff. The coastline in this part of Björnøya is very dramatic with high, steep cliffs with a constantly ongoing reshaping erosion process caused by wind and waves. The Russian shipwreck in one of the bays were left after an accident 2009. During our lunch onboard, the fog and snow arrived and during our landing in Kvalfångstbukta, the snowfall was sometimes intensive. In the afternoon, the fog and snow suddenly turned into sunshine and we had an beautiful Zodiac cruise in the bay of Tunheim. Structural remnants from the very short coal mining period (1905-1908) are seen in the vicinity of the old cottages. Little auks, preffering the gravel slopes for residing were swarming around in the air and we had wonderful puffins on the lower cliffs close to the shoreline going above our heads back and forth for fishing. Just before leaving, the whole island was shimmering in the evening sun and then suddenly hidden by fog.
23rd May – Poolepynten & Magdalenafjorden
An early morning excursion before breakfast to Poolepynten at prins Karls Forland gave us the opportunity to get more familiar with the walruses. The sleeping, snoring and very relaxed animals on the beach ignored us and we could approach them slowly and gentle. While studying the pile of animals ashore, a new individual came swimming and we could see how fast and smooth they are moving in the water. During the most intensive hunting period, the walruses were heavily threatened but since it became protected 1952, it is increasing in numbers. During the day, we sailed up north along the west coast of Spitsbergen, looking out for ice and wildlife. We found the ice in the area of Magdalenafjorden and spent some hours with M/S Quest to search along the ice edge finding a few bearded seals and walruses. In the evening, we had an unbelievable calm and adorable Zodiac cruise between the ice flakes in Magdalenafjorden.
25th May 2014 – St Jonsfjorden & Trygghamna
Another calm and mirror blanc morning with blue, blue skies welcomed us to St Jonsfjorden, where there were quite much ice cover left on the inner part of the fjord, close to the glacier front. About 40 seals were spread out on the ice, both the bearded seal and ringed seal. Now and then, they dived into the water in the tiny ice holes for a period in the water and then suddenly returning for a new rest upon the ice. We landed on the northern shore of St Jonsfjorden and did a small hike upon the hill, enjoying the view and having a small ”rolling the snowball the longest”-competition before sliding down the slope to the beach and the waiting polar plunge. While having lunch onboard, the ship was leaving St Jonsfjorden and entering the Isfjorden for our very last landing place with the zodiacs in Trygghamna. The highlights in this last outing were the king eider and the ringed seal that played around the Zodiacs.
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 50 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.
Travelling through the stunning Norwegian coastal landscape on a small expedition cruise ship is simply hard to beat. Lofoten islands welcome with picturesque fishing villages, squeezed between soaring mountains and quiet fjords. In wintertime Tromsø offers magnificent sceneries over dramatic landscapes and great chances to spot both orcas and humpback whales. If we’re lucky we will also see the magical Northern Lights dancing in the sky. Join us on an unforgettable cruise!