Rough weather conditions meant that today was a sea day, but after staying up last night to watch a polar bear slumber along the shoreline, we were happy to have a day of rest and relaxation.

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before Kerstin, our naturalist, gave a fascinating lecture on polar bears. With the sighting from the night before still fresh in our mind, Kerstin’s talk was timely, and we enjoyed learning about the biology and behavior of these beautiful animals. We then heard from Maria, a polar bear guard and weapons master, about “survival of the fattest” and how bigger is better in cold conditions. With that in mind, we went off to enjoy lunch with multiple desserts to improve our “buoyancy.” The weather did not improve, so after our afternoon naps and further devastation of the cookie jars, more presentations were scheduled. Undersea specialist Paul discussed plankton, football teams, and the movie Alien…fit those together if you can! Just before Caroline set up her “Geology Rocks!” presentation, a call from the bridge made everyone rush to the outer decks. Eight humpback whales had been sighted! We sailed around to the western side of Svalbard outside of the fjord system of Hornsund. The whales were diving for the planktonic organisms that are attracted to the nutrients flowing from the glacier fronts.

Caroline gave a really fascinating talk on the formation of the Svalbard archipelago, followed by a recap of the day and dinner. The chocolate mousse cake was incredible. Coming from a Scot, this is praise indeed!