During the early hours of the morning, the ship sailed into Hornsund, a large fjord system in the southeast of Spitsbergen. The skies were clear, and the landscape before us resplendent under her white finery.
National Geographic Resolution spent the morning sailing along the ice edges in search of wildlife in Burgerbukta. We enjoyed presentations about Svalbard as we learned how to enjoy this wonderful part of the world safely and carefully.
The amount of fresh sea ice in the fjord was one of the striking features of the landscape. About 15 cm formed over the last few days due to low temperatures.
Just before midday, a Zodiac of our undersea specialists headed for a small rocky island to carry out a dive.
After lunch, we headed deeper into the fjord to Brepollen. After going through an area of tight pack ice, we came upon the edge of a large expanse of shore fast ice. Some of the staff headed out on a Zodiac and then moved onto the ice to evaluate the conditions. An announcement came over the PA system that the ice was deemed safe. We donned our cold weather gear and lifejackets, made our way to Base Camp, boarded Zodiacs, and headed for the ice edge.
Over the next couple of hours, we experienced one of the great adventures of Polar Regions–walking on frozen water. The ice was about 20 to 30 cm thick. Despite the light covering of snow, the ice was both smooth and very hard. The experience was so exhilarating. We overheard many happy exchanges between our fellow travelers as they wandered around the permitted area. All around us, the fabulous weather accompanied us as mountain peaks glistened under their white mantles of snow and ice. Every now and then, a glacier tumbled down a valley to the water’s edge.
Once onboard, we came across a few ringed seals swimming along the ice edge. The ice had a pale grey fringe of fresh ice covered with ice flowers, little hemispheres of frozen snow. The pattern of these ice flowers over the thin sea ice was marvelous to behold.
During recap hour, we shared welcome cocktails with the Captain and met the senior officers who work on this marvelous ship. This has been a great way to begin our experience up in Svalbard.
Photographers: Carl Erik Kilander and Eduardo Shaw, Naturalists