Liefdefjorden, Svalbard

May 23, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer

Today we spent our time in Leifdefjorden on the island of Spitsbergen as we began to make our way west from Nordaustlandet. The terrain is very different here—dominated by 380-million-year-old Devonian rocks very similar to the Old Red Sandstone of Britain and Ireland, giving a very distinctive dark-red color to the landscape. We began the morning with Zodiac cruises in front of Monacobreen, a large and spectacular glacier that empties into Leifdefjorden. The glacier has retreated markedly since the first time Lindblad Expeditions ships visited here in 1987 but remains very beautiful. As we cruised along the edge of the brash ice and into the first-year pancake ice in front of the glacier, we were welcomed by several young bearded seals who seemed to be very curious about us.

After leaving Monacobreen, we cruised up the fjord to a large, low peninsula called Reindyrflya (Reindeer Flat). We anchored in a lovely small bay called Grusbukta, where we were able to take walks ashore and kayak in the very still water. There was a lot of interest in the kayak experience and many guests participated. The conditions were perfect and then a little snow squall covered everything with large snowflakes, which added to the magic. We ended the day with a polar plunge for those hardy souls willing to brave the frigid conditions by jumping into the 29-degree water.

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About the Author

Jim Kelley

Expedition Leader

A native of California, Jim has been going to sea for most of his life. Jim grew up by the ocean in Southern California, did his undergraduate work in geology at Pomona College, and received his Ph.D. in geology from the University of Wyoming. In 1966 he joined the faculty of the Department of Oceanography at the University of Washington, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Department of Biomathematics. In 1970-71 he was Fulbright Professor at the University of Athens and Senior Research Scientist at the Democritos Greek Atomic Energy Commission.

About the Photographer

Bud Lehnhausen


Bud received an undergraduate degree in wildlife biology at Colorado State University. He then immediately went to Alaska where he worked and lived for 30 years. At the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Bud studied wildlife biology and received a master's degree conducting research on four species of alcid seabird nesting on a remote island in the Gulf of Alaska.

About the Videographer

Steve Ewing

Video Chronicler

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Steve fell in love with the beauty of the natural world at an early age. In addition to nature, his other main passion was telling stories though the medium of television and radio. Steve studied broadcast journalism at the University of Oregon. There, he learned how to shoot, edit, and report compelling stories using digital video.

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