Exploring 80 Degrees North, Svalbard

Jun 12, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer


Today we awoke to find true arctic conditions–freezing temperature with wind and blowing snow. Although exciting, this made observing the bird cliffs at Cape Fanshaw before breakfast difficult. As our Plan B the National Geographic Explorer headed farther north seeking protection in Lomfjorden, along the northeast coast of Spitsbergen. Here we found suitable conditions for our morning explorations. Intrepid explorers went ashore for hikes of varying lengths on the tundra, while others explored at water level by Zodiac. During the afternoon the ship sailed across Hinlopen Strait to Murchisonfjorden along Nordaustlandet, crossing 80 degrees north of planet Earth’s equator. After navigating through the pack ice into a protected bay, we launched the fleet of kayaks and also explored by Zodiac. As with any true expedition, there were many surprises during the day, from walrus approaching the Zodiacs in the morning, to viewing distant polar bears on the ice from kayaks and Zodiacs in the afternoon. And we even made it back to view the spectacular bird cliffs at Cape Fanshaw after dinner. It was another thrilling day in the high Arctic!

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About the Author

Ralph Lee Hopkins

National Geographic Photographer

National Geographic photographer Ralph Lee Hopkins is the founder and director of the Expedition Photography program for the Lindblad-National Geographic alliance. For more than 20 years he has lead expeditions from the Arctic to Antarctica and points in between.

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