Svalbard 2015 – Day 6: Wilhelmøya and Sørporten

Polar bear mom with one of her two cubs

Polar bear mom with one of her two cubs

July 19th start a quarter to 6 as Morten is hammering on the door shouting “Polar bear with two cubs!!” with an enthusiasm he normally reserves only for birds. I sit up in the bed quickly and despite this being the fifth day onboard I still don’t remember there’s not room to sit up in the bunk bed, knocking my head in the bunk above. But I manage to throw some clothes on and get my gear with me outside. The fog is still pretty dense and the mood is eerie, but out there we can see a female and two cubs moving around, unfortunately at some distance from the ship.

Playful polar bear cubs

Playful polar bear cubs

As we wait and hope they’ll move closer, we spot two more adult bears in the vicinity of the ship. They seem to be males, which probably explains why the female is so restless.

After a bit of waiting, instead of moving closer the female moves the cubs with her further in on the ice. We decide it’s now ok to launch the zodiacs without putting the cubs at risk, so we can hopefully get closer to one of the males.

Launching a zodiac from MS Origo in the fog

Launching a zodiac from MS Origo in the fog

Zodiac cruise in the fog surrounding Bjørnsundet

Zodiac cruise in the fog surrounding Bjørnsundet

 

Polar bear isolation

Polar bear isolation

Male polar bear yawning

Male polar bear yawning

After we return to Origo, we try to make our way further into the ice in Bjørnsundet, but it seems too packed for us to get much further. It does provide some good opportunity to practice panning and generally try to shoot the birds passing close around us. Obviously the Fulmar is a loyal companion anywhere we go and comes the closest to the ship.

Northern Fulmar reflected

Northern Fulmar reflected

We decide to cross the south pass of Hinlopen over towards the massive glacier Blåsvellbreen. The sea remains amazingly calm.

Brünnich's guillemot abandoning mini-iceberg

Brünnich’s guillemot abandoning mini-iceberg

Iceberg sculpture

Iceberg sculpture

As we leave the Wilhelm island, we also gradually leave the fog behind. We pass some bearded seals on the ice.

Bearded seal on ice

Bearded seal on ice

Bearded seal observing us gliding by

Bearded seal observing us gliding by

Leaving the fog-shrouded Wilhelm island as the sun takes on a great colour

Leaving the fog-shrouded Wilhelm island as the sun takes on a great colour

Approaching Blåsvellbreen the plentiful sea ice that has been such an important contributor to the well being of the polar bears over the winter once again thwarts our plans. It’s still too thick in front of the glacier, and we turn north towards Torellneset.

As we reach the open strait of Hinlopen we’re welcomed by the most fantastic weather and conditions you can imagine in such a rough part of the world. We get to enjoy coffee and biscuits on the aft deck wearing just shirts and indoor clothes for once.

Crossing Sørporten towards Bråsvellbreen in perfect conditions

Crossing Sørporten towards Bråsvellbreen in perfect conditions

The deck of Origo in perfect cruising conditions

The deck of Origo in perfect cruising conditions

We reach Torellneset around midnight in gorgeous light, and we enter the zodiacs to get closer. Despite being a continuation of the 19th, I’ll try to make a separate post for this.

The route for July 19th

The route for July 19th

Show your friends or stay updated:

You may also like...

1 Response

  1. October 27, 2015

    […] Svalbard 2015 – Day 6: Wilhelmøya and Sørporten […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *