May 28, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer
We spent the entire day north of 80 degrees, starting with an early morning arrival of Chermisdeøya, an island just north of Nordaustlandet in Svalbard’s northeast corner. The weather was warm and calm enough to begin our kayaking operation, and a few of our guests were lucky enough to hear a bearded seal singing from under the water.
Ashore, we explored a place called Graffiti Beach, where stones have been laid out in various words and symbols, including the name of a Russian ship which came in search of the Italian explorer Nobile’s ill-fated attempt to cross the North Pole by air ship – a trip he had previously completed with the Norwegian explorer Amundsen. Nobile’s ship crashed, and while he was eventually rescued, the rest of his men did not survive.
A short hike gave us an incredible view to the north, where the water is very open this year, despite our high latitude.
Our Global Perspective Guest Speaker Ken Taylor gave us further opportunity to reflect on the changing ice conditions in the Arctic when he spoke to us this afternoon about climate change.
By 4pm we had reached Rijpfjorden, where sea broken sea ice is crowded against the shore. We had our first opportunity to explore by zodiac, and a particularly great look at the sea ice as we cruised along the ice edge. One two small floes, we found polar bear tracks. On the relatively thin ice, the footprints were very well outlined and we could see both front and rear tracks.
Through the evening we continued to cruise far north of Svalbard – much further north can ships can usually reach, especially at this time of year.
With calm weather and an open sky, we can appreciate the long light that graces the mountains. We will not find proper darkness up here at this time of year.
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