Arctic Expedition June 2018

Aboard MS Freya we was lucky to explore the waters of Svalbard once again. After over 40 expeditions in the Svalbard area and some thorough examination of the ice maps our route was set heading south. At the east side of Spitsbergen and in Hinlopen strait it was still good ice conditions. At the west coast and to the north it was little ice already. This time it probably was a good choice and we encountered 12 different Polar Bears, 5 of them in good photo distance.

Already early in Hornsund we spotted the first Polar Bear. It was still some ice left in a small bay and a female bear was resting there. Later we spotted the same bear swimming across the fjords not far from the ship. We just waited drifting whilst the bear was swimming only 100 meters from us aiming for the land on the eastern side of the fjords. The bear was known to us, because we had seen it in the same area during our May expedition, and luckily now it looked more healthy and had gained some weight.

Polar Bear swimming in the fjords of Hornsund
Polar Bear swimming in the fjords of Hornsund

Stuck in the ice

We explored Storfjorden for a while and found one more Polar Bear at long distance there. Our plan was to sail through the Freman sound and search the eastern parts of Spitsbergen towards north. This was impossible because of strong wind affecting the drift ice and we could not get through the Freman sound and had to turn around and decided to sail around the Edge Island. Actually we was suck in the ice in the Freman sound and had to use some time to get out again.

Svalbard MS Freya 2018
Svalbard MS Freya 2018

It turned out to be a vice decision to sail around the Edge island and search into the drifting ice on the east side towards north. On our way we also had a great situation with the Walrus colony at "Andretangen" at the southern parts of the Edge island. Our estimate was around 200 Walruses resting at the beaches there. We did a zodiac cruise during the night and a landing there.

Into the drifting ice at the east side we soon found two Polar Bears. They looked like being busy following the ice while it melted towards the north. We stayed in the area and was able to do a zodiac cruise close to one of the islands of "Kong Karls land".

Reflections at the east side of Edge island
Reflections at the east side of Edge island
Polar Bear following the melting ice towards the north
Polar Bear following the melting ice towards the north
The GPS route and areas we was sailing through.
The GPS route and areas we was sailing through.

After some sailing in open drift ice areas we reached the Nordauslandet and a glazier, Bråsvellbreen, which is a part of the third biggest glazier in the world, Austfonna. This glazier are covering some parts of the island Nordaustlandet. The glazier front stretches out in the Arctic ocean and all its waterfalls are sometimes a spectacular view. We knew that it would be a little early in the year for seeing these waterfalls in June but seeing the glazier front, which is estimated to be over 200 km long, is an extraordinary sightings as well.

The glazier "Bråsvellbreen".
The glazier "Bråsvellbreen".

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