Svalbard 2015 – Day 4: Polar bears on the edge

As we wake up on the morning of the 17th – 3 days into our seavoyage MS Origo is gliding along the seaice, tracing the edge of the polar cap. The strong winds are nearly gone, there’s still a freezing breeze coming straight from the north pole. At least going this close to the ice, there’s no waves. My stomach appreciates the new conditions and we celebrate with breakfast.

Reaching the sea ice

Reaching the sea ice

The morning is spent on the lookout for bears.

MS Origo navigating the edge of the polar cap

MS Origo navigating the edge of the polar cap

Spirits are noticably higher as we come across the first signs of bears

First signs of polar bears on our trip; tracks in the seaice north of Spitsbergen

First signs of polar bears on our trip; tracks in the seaice north of Spitsbergen

Success. All alone on a large sheet of ice far from land in the arctic ocean, we come across our first polar bear. He seems to have caught wind of something because his trot is determined and pretty well paced. He doesn’t seem to appreciate our company though, and after a while he starts swimming away from us. Not wanting to cause any stress, we move on.

Polar bear in the sea ice

Polar bear in the sea ice

A while later we come across two polar bears together. Not a very common sight. Looking closer we see they’re next to a large seal kill. Probably a bearded seal.

Two polar bears by a seal kill

Two polar bears by a seal kill

As we approach, one of the bears retreats, while the other stays by the kill. Unlike the one that retreats, this one has bloody fur and is most likely the one who caught the seal, while the one that left probably showed up in hope of some free food. Some glauceous gulls also hope for some easy proteins, but keep a healthy distance while the bear is on the alert.

Polar bear looking up to see what the Glaucious gulls are on about

Polar bear looking up to see what the Glaucious gulls are on about

The ivory gulls are more gutsy

Polar bear and Ivory gull spectator

Polar bear and Ivory gull spectator

Polar bear and Ivory gull feeding on a seal carcass

Polar bear and Ivory gull feeding on a seal carcass

Polar bear moving a seal carcass

Polar bear moving a seal carcass

Polar bear in sea ice

Polar bear in sea ice

Polar bear having a sip of water

Polar bear having a sip of water

Polar bear giving an Ivory gull the evil eye

Polar bear giving an Ivory gull the evil eye

Polar bear in sea ice

Polar bear in sea ice

We stay with the bear for a while, but the light doesn’t improve and we’re not getting any closer, so after a while we decide to move on

Polar bear striding off

Polar bear striding off

We decide to head further into the ice, trying to reach Sjuøyane as the first ship this season. While some of us get some shuteye, Origo continues moving northeast, but during the night decides the ice is too dense, and we turn around and head along the ice and the south towards Hinlopen.

Before hitting the bunk I shot a short clip out the porthole of my cabin. Slanted horizon and lots of saltwater stains on the glass, but I think it describes the experience anyway

Travel route for July 17th 2015

Travel route for July 17th 2015

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  1. October 8, 2015

    […] Svalbard 2015 – Day 4: Polar bears on the edge […]

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