In the early morning, we woke up to the wonderful news of a polar bear sighting. We spent over an hour looking on as this iconic animal moved along the waterline on the ice edge, entered the water, fed on kelp, and displayed curiosity in its surroundings. The calm sea and blue sky on the eastern side of Svalbard allowed us to get the Zodiacs out on the water to explore in better detail. There was an interesting combination of glacial ice, sea ice at different stages of formation, with a spectacular backdrop of perfectly white snowy mountains. While cruising the fjord, we had close views of black guillemots, kittiwakes, and northern fulmars, and some of us spotted Arctic fox tracks on the snowy fast ice.
We returned to the ship in time for lunch. Meanwhile, the undersea team explored under the fast ice with the ROV. Soon after, the expedition team, determined to make the most of the weather, deployed the kayaks for a fun afternoon of paddling through these calm, clear, and pristine waters. Little did we know, the day’s excitement was far from over! Upon returning with the kayaks, everything was setup for the polar plunge. Photographers and the expedition team stood ready to assist the plungers in and out of the water.
We wrapped up our day in the lounge where we regrouped for recap and a briefing for tomorrow. The last recap was a surprise. Peter, our expedition leader, offered us a refreshing beer tasting of beers brewed in Svalbard.