Svalbard: Storfjord

Jun 06, 2019 - National Geographic Explorer

Svalbard is a huge High Arctic wilderness. Snow and ice dominate the landscape and thus searching for wildlife takes time and many hours traveling slowly through ice-choked areas. Today was dedicated to navigating through the remaining pack ice between the eastern side of Spitsbergen Island and the two large islands in the eastern part of the archipelago—Edgoya and Barentsoya. Not a typical narrow, high-walled fjord, Storfjord’s name translates to “large fjord.”

While we continued searching, we heard talks by our distinguished guest speakers and the ship’s naturalist staff. In the middle of the afternoon, we found a space where the ice floes gave way to open water where we got into Zodiacs for a close-up experience with pack ice and the various shapes and forms of ice. A few species of Arctic seabirds were around, and we even spotted some bearded seals.

Late in the afternoon, we turned back south to set a course that would take us around the southern tip of Spitsbergen Island and then north along the west coast. However, just after dinner, sharp eyes on the bridge spotted a polar bear moving among piles of ice. Our day ended with a very exciting viewing of one of the iconic animals of Svalbard and the Arctic.

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About the Author

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.

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