Storfjorden, Svalbard Archipelago

Jun 06, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer


This morning we were on the west side of Edgeoya Island, near the entrance of the very massive Storfjorden. At this point the fjord is about 50 kilometers wide. The sky was gray and the wind was moderate—essentially we were in the open sea. The plan was to make a landing on Edgeoya. But Landing A had too much swell; there was too much sea ice pushed up against the beach for Landing B to work; and so it was onto an entirely different plan, Plan C: a search for megafauna.

There was a lot of fast ice to the north in Storfjorden, according to our ice charts, so we streamed north into ice and occasional fog, seeing seals, many seabirds, some walruses sliding off ice, and a distant mother polar bear with her small cub. The ice was thin, its edges broken—too thin, too broken—and it seemed a little early in the season for this. We pushed on, sometimes almost silently, at other times with the sound of ice sliding down our hull. Meanwhile, there were lectures, scrumptious meals, and a special teatime.

Out on the deck, during a lecture, the hotel/galley team was preparing a BBQ. There would be lomitos and red wine. Lomitos are small sandwiches made with lomo, more or less the tenderloin cut of Argentine beef. The beef is from grass-fed cows who are always walking. Our hotel manager, Patrik, said that while the meat’s delicious, it’s a little tough, so he beats it a bit, like abalone, before grilling it. It’s so worth the work! Out on the back deck, with a sandwich and red wine in hand, with friends and new acquaintances in the cold Arctic air, staring at the top of the ice and under the mountains, we can only wait for what is next, while enjoying what we have now.
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About the Author

Dennis Cornejo

Naturalist

Dennis began scuba diving during the mid-1970s as part of a research project. At the time he was a research associate at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona, studying the population of winter hibernating sea turtles.  What began as a scientific study soon became a conservation project that expanded to three species of sea turtles along the entire Pacific coast of Mexico.  This project received major funding from the World Wildlife Fund and was eventually taken over directly by that agency with Kim Clifton and Dennis Cornejo as co-principal investigators.

About the Photographer

Max Seigal

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Max Seigal grew up in beautiful Boulder, Colorado, and spent his early years working at his parent’s veterinary clinic, which sparked his love for animals. At a young age, Max fell in love with conservation and travel. He studied abroad in both Costa Rica and the Bahamas during high school, and went on to graduate summa cum laude from Ohio Wesleyan University with degrees in environmental science, zoology, and economics.

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