Saturday, 2 August 2014

The Land of Contrasts

This morning we woke up in inner Liefdefjord looking outside on the mighty Monaco glacier. We had an amazing view to the 5 km wide glacier front which goes straight in to the ocean. We were met by a large iceberg finding its way out in the fjord after calving from the glacier. 
As we went out of the fjord and towards And√łyane and Reinsdyrflya  the landscape changed so dramatically that it was difficult to believe that it was the same island. It went from massive black pointy mountains separated by glaciers moving like white snakes in the terrain to a landscape as flat as a pancake covered in brown rocks and green vegetation. It didn't take long until the first message about a sighting of a polar bear came over the radio. People grabbed their warmest clothes and ran out on deck. The bear was relaxing on one of the small islands of And√łyane. Not
long after came the second message about another polar bear in the same area, just on a different island. Then suddenly we could spot a third one, swimming in the ocean. Polar bears are solitary animals and seeing so many in the same area is quite rare. We couldn't tell the reason why for certain, but a large gathering of seagulls in the air over one of the islands could indicate that there was an open buffet behind the hill – possibly a whale carcass that had floated on shore.

As we had just arrived inside and  were enjoying a warm lunch another polar bear had been spotted in Mushamna. The bear was strolling around on the shore before it laid down - yet another breath taking meeting with The King Of The Arctic. As we sailed further north, a peculiar small island came in sight. Shaped like a flat ring, the nature reserve of Moffen island houses a walrus colony. We could see these big blubbery creatures lying and enjoying the day piled up in a big group. Walruses love clams and that's why Moffen, with its shallow and sandy seabed full of clams, is perfect for the walruses. 
During the day different inspirational and interesting lectures about geology, birdlife and expeditions were given by the experienced expedition team. In the evening we reached the sea ice at 80 degrees north, where we all got to go out in the polar circle boats to cruise along the edge. The combination of the ice and the sea created an incredible spectrum of various shades of blue. When you looked in on the ice you couldn't see the end, maybe there was no end, maybe it stretched all the way to the North Pole? 
Being up here in the Arctic provides peace to the soul. Seeing how nature has its own ways without any human interference, everything is in balance. You get a new perspective and a deeper insight in to the nature and wildlife in the Arctic.  When you look outside the window after a day like this you feel humble towards the nature and grateful for all the impressions and experiences that you get to bring back home.