We were awakened this morning by the sound of National Geographic Endurance crushing through fast ice. The excitement was high as our plan was to visit a small group of islands known as the Sjuøyene (the seven islands) on the northeast side of Nordauslandet. Approaching Phippsøya, the largest island of the group, we encountered a female walrus swimming with her calf. Scout boats were sent out and it was determined that a landing was not possible, so we continued searching for wildlife. Our efforts were rewarded as we found a single polar bear sleeping on an ice floe. The bear was quite content to sleep away the morning, even as we watched and took photographs.
Our afternoon proved to be a bit more exciting on the polar bear front as we found a very large and curious male polar bear walking on the pack ice. Time and again the bear turned and headed in our direction, trying to get a good whiff of the curiously shaped object just in front of it. In the end, the bear walked off into the distance.
After dinner, we decided to visit Chermisdeøya. Expedition ships visit the southern end of this island to create a geoglyph of their ship’s name, positioning rocks to spell out the name of the ship. The Swedish ship Jӓderin is the oldest ship represented. Jӓderin visited the island in 1898 as part of the Swedish section of the Arc-de-Meridian project. What a glorious evening, as we basked in the sunshine and enjoyed the chance to stretch our legs.