West Spitsbergen

Jul 04, 2019 - National Geographic Explorer

We woke to sunshine! Well, a little, anyway, and that increased throughout the morning. This was ideal for our morning activity of a Zodiac cruise in Bellsund by two large glaciers. As well as beautiful glacier views, we also had lots of ice in the water to drive through, a tern colony on a small island near the glacier, and several bearded seals resting on icebergs and cruising through the water.

Our afternoon was just a short ship cruise to Poolypynten, a regular haul-out site for walruses. We were in luck today because a pretty large group of walruses were there, resting on the spit of land. Several were also seen splashing by the water’s edge to cool down and some more arriving after what was likely a long feeding session.

While everyone was ashore looking at walrus, what were the divers doing? We were off diving! We found a pretty sandy seabed at around 40 feet with lots and lots of hermit crabs, sea snails, anemones, tiny gobies and various worms. It was a pretty fascinating dive, especially with a good macro lens to really capture the detail.

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About the Author

Peter Webster

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

Born in Scotland, Peter became fascinated with nature and wildlife from a very young age. This early interest led to him earning a degree in conservation biology followed shortly after by an M.Sc in marine and fisheries ecology. He is currently studying for another M.Sc in digital mapping. After working as a commercial diver for several years Peter was offered the position of Field Diving Officer with the British Antarctic Survey in 2012. He then spent the next 16 months in the Antarctic, stationed at Rothera Research Station, on the peninsula where he managed the dive operations and a team of scientific divers working on a wide range of research on climate change, ocean acidification, and increased seabed disturbance by icebergs. As well as diving Peter also spent several months in the Antarctic deep field working in aircraft operations, depot laying, and meteorological work whilst living in tents in conditions below -30oC. 

About the Videographer

David Pickar

Video Chronicler

David Pickar is a native of Portland, Oregon. He studied anthropology at the University of Oregon, then spent several years working as a field archaeologist. Participating in excavations in countries like Jordan, Belize and Italy and in every corner of the US, allowed him to witness culture and the environment from an unusual perspective.

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