Storfjorden, Svalbard

Jun 28, 2019 - National Geographic Explorer


Those aboard National Geographic Explorer awoke this morning to the glorious sound of sea ice crunching past our hull as we sailed around the southern cape of Spitsbergen into Storfjorden. By breakfast, we were cruising through spectacular sea ice, making our way to the entrance of Freemansundet. While the ice offered stunning views from the bridge and outer decks, it limited our passage out of Storfjorden and we adjusted our expedition plans to spend the rest of the day exploring the surrounding waters.

As we cruised, glacial ice and seabirds abounded. We enjoyed presentations from our natural history staff and specialists, including learning about polar bears from National Geographic photographer Matthias Breiter and life in Svalbard with naturalist Stefano Pozzi. Anyone that chose to come listen to a presentation when in polar bear country knew they might not actually hear the full story… Naturalist Ella Potts, giving a presentation about the secret life of whales, was interrupted by not one, not two, but five polar bears on the fast ice of Mohnbukta!

Excitement was high as we headed to recap and dinner. And then, just as we were finishing dessert, a mother polar bear with two cubs was spotted in front of the glacier Pedasenkobreen. What an incredible experience to be able to see so many of this iconic Arctic species in a single day!

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About the Author

Maya Santangelo

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

Maya was born and raised in Southern California, where her curiosity for the natural world was encouraged from an early age. Relocating to Sydney, Australia with her family at 11 years old, she learned to scuba dive, eventually becoming a PADI Instructor. Her fascination for the underwater world undoubtedly fueled her interest to study marine biology at James Cook University. Working as a professional guide in some of the world’s top dive destinations, including Palau and Mexico’s Guadalupe Island and Revillagigedo Archipelago, Maya realized a passion for sharing her love for the ocean with others, and the value of citizen science in the dive industry.

About the Photographer

James Coleman

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Jamie is from England. He grew up in Oxford, about as far from the sea as you can get in the UK, yet somehow decided he would work in marine biology and conservation. Ever since he reached his teens, he has dedicated time to this passion, working and volunteering in various roles on nature reserves and in aquariums. It was no surprise that in 2007, he left home to study marine biology at the University of Newcastle.

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