|80°36.8’N / 020°17.9’E
The announcement of a bear sighting at 0800 was a great way to start the day! The bear sat on the pack ice in front of one of the islands belonging to the magical island group Sjuøyane. The bear did not move around much but was mostly just relaxing and every now and then he stuck his nose in the air, to sniff for any prey nearby. Although it is always amazing to see a polar bear, it did mean we had to cancel our landing on one of the islands, so we turned the ship around and moved toward Chermsideøya.
At Chermsideøya we had the opportunity to navigate the zodiacs through the ice in search of some wildlife. It started with a bearded seal relaxing on the sea ice, followed by a swimming walrus, and more seals and walruses lying on the ice a bit further away. The water was flat calm, which provided beautiful reflections of the surrounding hills. Because the water was so clear, we could look into the water and see the algae and kelp. Throughout the zodiac cruise the sea ice started to close in, leading to some exciting and tricky navigation through the ice back to Plancius!
After the zodiac cruise, we enjoyed the delicious lunch provided by the crew, and we had a brilliant surprise… through the windows in the restaurant, we saw a walrus with a baby on the sea ice nearby on Plancius’ starboard side! Really cute! Some amazing photos were taken of this very special sighting.
After being fuelled with the lunch, we could test if our sea legs still worked on land, after a few days on the ship. We landed at the southern point of Chermsideøya on the beach. Here we had the opportunity to hike up the hill and enjoy the glorious views from height. Below the hill, words were written on the ground with rocks, geological graffiti. It had become a habit amongst expeditions that visited the site to leave a ‘who is who’ with the name of the ship and the year. There was even a swastika, created by crew members of a German submarine during the second world war. The swastika led to a lot of debate if such a symbol belongs in this peaceful environment.
During the recap, Regis gave an informative talk on guillemots, rounding up the abundance of these birds which we say the day before. Following this Keechy surprised us by introducing us to Svalbard’s tropical forest! Spoiler alert, it was a 380 million year old fossil forest…
Last but not least, in the evening dinner was not served in the restaurant… We had a BBQ at the back deck! Accompanied with some party music and (glüh)wine flowing freely, the evening quickly turned into a party with loads of laughter and dancing into the night! A fantastic ending to another brilliant, fully packed day!
Kayak Trip Log
19th June - Chermsideøya
After a long sea day, we arrived to Chermsideøya, a sheltered bay between the islands where there was a notable coverage of sea ice still. This northern area has only been accessible due to less sea ice at this time of year in the last 20 years which today provided a fantastic and different kayaking opportunity compared to Alkefjellet.
Moment of silence. Birds feeding on copepods drifting from the base of the ice flow, some bearded seals visiting us very quiet and shy, just swimming very close to our kayaks and checking us a few times before moving on. We paddle for more than an hour, immersed in a beautiful landscape with a mix of brash ice, mountains, and healthy sea ice. The rest of the passengers climbed one of the ridges of a hill while we were arriving to the landing. Here, the second group of kayakers were waiting for their chance to have the same experience of solitude amongst some of Svalbard’s northern islands, including Chermsideøya.