It feels so good to have National Geographic Resolution back in the ice!
There are not enough superlatives in the English language to describe our day today. After a flat, calm crossing through the unprotected waters north of Norway, we awoke this morning to our first glimpses of the snow-topped landscape of Svalbard.
The expedition team planned for a morning on the low headland of Russebukta on the western shore of Edgeøya, or “Edge Island.” Not long after the scout boat headed out to check the area for bears, there was an abrupt change of plans. A large, resting group of walruses were found tucked away in a little set of low-lying islands. Our morning was spent Zodiac cruising and admiring these grunting, snorting behemoths as they lazed about for our viewing pleasure. (Not so much for our olfactory pleasure, I might add.) King eiders were spotted, as well as nesting barnacle geese, adding two new species to our avian repertoire.
Back aboard, we were treated to a delicious lunch as our ship cruised north, looking to explore our first sights of sea ice. As we plowed through the narrow channel between Edgeøya and Barents Island, the ice thickened, and we were unsure just how far we would get. I need to take a personal aside here to tell you just how impressed I was today by our bridge team and our incredible ship. With flat, calm seas and shining sun, we pushed through huge areas of “very close drift ice,” which translates to chunks of ice anywhere from car-sized to soccer-field-sized, and everything in between…all covering approximately 9/10ths of the sea’s surface. The ship maintained a respectable speed, and barely a shudder was felt as she steamed north. She truly is a fantastic ship, especially under sunny skies and in her true element – please see the photos!
The energy on the bridge was contagious as all eyes were on deck to search for the kings and queens of the Arctic! Everyone was buzzing with anticipation and hope, and we were not disappointed. Our luck remained strong as a young male polar bear, the first of the trip, was spotted roaming the ice near our ship. We will go to bed tonight with exciting thoughts. What will tomorrow bring?