(A blog post that didn't made it through the satellite connection while we were on the trip!)
Monday 2015-08-31 afternoon
Walrus wrestling!!! Puffins in full flight!!! Arctic terns hunting fish!!! It's like we ask for an animal and they just turn up. A visit to Amsterdamoya, an island to the west, proved to be such a highlight despite the snow and windy conditions. The early wake-ups are worth it. Fortified with a fulfilling breakfast, the diving team joined the ground team for a guided hike and those partaking were treated to an impromptu talk from Dr. Sylvia Earle about the smaller less obvious wildlife living on the shoreline. Her birthday gift to us!
All the time the crew, armed with rifles, kept lookout for any polar bears. This arctic predator is actually not white but a shade of yellow and under that hides their skin that is black like the pads of their feet (and their nose!). The on-board competition to guess where and when we would first sight a polar bear was well and truly underway with a prize pool of cash awaiting the winner!
We haven’t seen any sea ice yet and the land is quite barren. The most likely spot the crew knew, where they had seen the polar bears before, was devoid of any signs or evidence of them. There is lots of talk about this amazing marine mammal and its future. There is no simple answer, but all agree there is trouble ahead for the existence of the polar bear. To lighten the mood, two of the girls donned Polar bear masks and posed for photos around the ship. At least it’s a start! The laughter and lollygagging was interrupted by the return of the snorkelers from their amazing interaction with harbor seals - it just blew them away, their excited banter heard across the ice. Nature just keeps delivering today.
Artic Tern with a fish and Smeerenburg landscape, photo credit: James Stone