Arctic Cruise Adventure Trip Log ( 17 - 31 Jul, 2017) - Friday, Jul 21

Friday July 21: In Search of Bears
January 2018

Today, we travel along the northern edge of Nordaustlandet, searching for wildlife among the Arctic pack ice that chokes the archipelago for most of the year. Our expedition team is on the bridge early in the morning until late in the evening, and over the course of the day we encounter several species of birds and marine mammals! Those assisting in the search for wildlife observe long, sausage-like bearded seals and plump, wide-eyed ringed seals swimming among scattered ice floes of every shape and size. It seems fitting that as we travel the ice edge, our marine mammalogist Sabina Mense offers a lecture on pinnipeds, the group of animals which includes the seals and walrus that we have seen. We learn to think of pack ice (which forms as seawater freezes) as critical habitat for these fascinating creatures; without reliable sea ice, many arctic animals could not survive! Appropriately, Sabina’s lecture is interrupted by the announcement that several walrus have been spotted off the ship! We all rush on deck to observe the animals, hauled out on a tiny ice floe that looks as if it could topple at any moment! The massive animals allow us to get quite close before entering the water and swimming into the fog.

This afternoon, our ornithologist Patricia Silva holds a fascinating lecture on auks, small seabirds that have remained ever-present throughout our cruise. We learn about how these black-and-white birds, some only several inches long, manage to thrive in the cold and inhospitable conditions on Svalbard. Questions about their diet and life history are all answered, and this evening, as the search for wildlife continues, we begin to see the intrepid little birds — little auks, puffins, black guillemots and brünnich’s guillemot — in a new light. Sightings of other seabirds, such as the northern fulmar, glaucous gull and arctic tern, also continue late into the night as we sail across the ice edge.

Click Here to read 'Saturday, July 22: Lidefjorden and Idabreen Glacier'