Jun 11, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer
This expedition will perhaps go down as “the trip of the early wake-up calls.” After our very fantastic polar bear encounter yesterday, we were once again woken by Lucho and his very clear instructions to get out of bed. The reason for the call was, once again the king of the Arctic but this time it was a female with two cubs playing on the fast ice in Bjornsundet on the eastern shores of Spitsbergen. We enjoyed some fantastic light and a stunning backdrop—with a large glacier front looming in the back of the bay. We witnessed the cubs playing and resting until the mother decided it was time to get going again, and all three of them peacefully wandered off in the other direction. As we enjoyed watching the little family, some of us actually spotted a second polar bear family much further away—a female with one small cub.
After a breakfast full of exciting conversation about what we just saw, Nick presented a lecture about his work with National Geographic. In the afternoon, we were set to make another landing, which turned out to be special. Amidst strong wings and cold temperatures, we landed at Torrelnesset on Nordaustlandet, the second largest island in Svalbard, to go on medium-length hikes. The real highlight of the outing was being able to share a beach with 40 to 50 walrus males, who weigh about one ton! These magnificent and strange looking animals were just laying around on the beach resting after several days of feasting on clams in the shallows of the Svalbard seas. As heavy and slow as they are on land, they’re just as elegant in water, something they showed us when five of them approached us to have a look at us from the water.
Back on our floating base camp, we enjoyed getting away from the 20-knot-winds. The evening program was as it so often is: a recap with the expedition team, a preview of tomorrow’s plans, a little more about walruses and reindeer, and a demonstration of marine life specimens taken straight out of the sea by our divers. All in all, it was yet another day in paradise.
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