Svalbard 2015 – Day 5: Hinlopen and Alkefjellet

When we wake up on the morning of the 4th day at sea, we’re told Origo had to give up trying to reach Sjuøyane during the night and instead followed the sea ice going back down, still looking for polar bears. Since none had been spotted we were continuing down towards the strait of Hinlopen with the goal to reach Palanderfjorden by the evening.

Leaving the ice edge north of Spitsbergen and heading towards Hinlopen

Leaving the ice edge north of Spitsbergen and heading towards Hinlopen

It was a pretty long transport stretch, and while Hinlopen is known to be a good site to spot some of the larger whale species, we didn’t see any as we passed. Once we got into the strait the time was spent trying to pan guillemots that were passing us in groups all the time. Unfortunately, I still suck at panning 🙁

Poor panning attempt of a flock of Brünnich's guillemot

Poor panning attempt of a flock of Brünnich’s guillemot

During the day we hear that a cruiseship with 800 passengers is on its way into the Palander bay, so we change plans and decide to stop by Alkefjellet by Odinjøkulen before heading for Bjørnsundet (bear strait – it has to have bears, right?). We reach the bird cliffs in the afternoon and it’s a bit overwhelming when you first get there. I still have no idea how to capture the mad activity of tens of thousands of guillemots and kittiwakes you’re suddenly surrounded with. Also, the light wasn’t great, so here’s just something to give an impression of what it was like.

A small part of the bird cliffs Alkefjellet

A small part of the bird cliffs Alkefjellet

Alkefjellet filled with Brünnich's guillemot

Alkefjellet filled with Brünnich’s guillemot

Every available spot in the cliffs are filled with Brünnich's guillemot

Every available spot in the cliffs are filled with Brünnich’s guillemot

Brünnich's guillemot using the available space

Brünnich’s guillemot using the available space

Brünnich's guillemot trying to fit into the last unclaimed dent in the cliffside

Brünnich’s guillemot trying to fit into the last unclaimed dent in the cliffside

As we reach Bjørnsundet which separates Wilhelm island from Spitsbergen, we find that the ice is packed too dense for Origo to make its way through it from the north, so we head around Wilhelm island on the outside to check the south opening. As we pass on the outside we come across a walrus relaxing on the sea ice.

Relaxed walrus on a sheet of seaice

Relaxed walrus on a sheet of seaice

Walrus checking out the visitors

Walrus checking out the visitors

Walrus on seaice

Walrus on seaice

Walrus standing up

Walrus standing up

As we approach Bjørnsundet it’s past midnight and a dense fog surrounds the area, so we figure it’s as good an opportunity as we’ll get in an area of midnight sun to get some sleep.

Foggy arrival at the south entrance of Bjørnsundet

Foggy arrival at the south entrance of Bjørnsundet

Travel route for day 5

Travel route for day 5

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1 Response

  1. October 27, 2015

    […] Svalbard 2015 – Day 5: Hinlopen and Alkefjellet […]

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