The ship nosed her way into Bellsund under beautiful skies and all around us, the indescribably beautiful landscape was draped in white finery. But that white finery was far from plain. It was filled with subtleties and nuances, all determined by how light played on the slopes and plains. Some northern fulmars and black-legged kittiwakes accompanied us into the fjords.
The ship slowly made her way to the landing area, stopping almost within touching distance of the shoreline. After a big effort to get kitted out, we boarded Zodiacs that took us a short distance to the landing site. We split into groups before heading off.
The walking was easy, with little elevation gain. We climbed a small rise to get a good view of the inner fjord as well as the open sea. Observing reindeer was one of the highlights of our morning. Small and inquisitive groups headed towards us and then suddenly leaped off into the distance, before repeating the whole process again and again. Of course, this not only allowed us close views of these incredible mammals, but it also gave us ample opportunities to get good images of them.
The plants took us aback. Most of them are brown, still in recovery from the long dark months, but we observed many bright lichens clinging to the rocks.
During the afternoon, we enjoyed the chance to go kayaking in the same location. Temperatures were still low, and the wind picked up. Many of us ended up with a coating of frozen spray on our gear due to the very cold conditions.
As we explored farther into the fjord, we encountered one-year-old sea ice. The large, flat, broken pieces of ice looked like giant pieces from a jigsaw puzzle. As we moved deeper into loose pack ice, we spotted fast ice ahead. Word came that someone had spotted a polar bear in the distance. We headed off to find the best vantage points for our first view of the bear. Soon, we saw that the bear was making a meal of a recently killed seal. The ship inched closer and closer, as we all witnessed the amazing encounter with this young female polar bear. Glaucous gulls hovered about and periodically took a morsel for themselves. At one point, we even saw an Arctic fox who dropped by for a meal.
Recap was cancelled and dinner was delayed, as we were aware that we were witnessing a very special incident.
After another delicious meal, we headed off for some rest. It had been a very special day, and we were deeply aware of how privileged we were.