Polar Bears and other Svalbard wildlife in May-June 2017

From May 25th to June 3d Arctic Wildlife Tours did the first out of totally six Svalbard photo expeditions this year. We was chartering the vessel MS Malmö during 9 nights to do at photographic workshop where renowned and price winning photographer Audun Rikardsen form Norway joined the expedition as a photographic guide.

svalbard wildlife report 1_2017
Arctic Fox in the morene in "Ekman-fjord"

An expedition with expedition ship MS Malmö

May and June is still early in the summer and usually it’s a lot of ice at this time of the year. 2017 was no exception for that and actually we had more ice than for some years back. It was not possible to reach far up at the north-vest corner of Spitsbergen and to the east, down in Storfjorden. This time we was using the expedition vessel MS Malmö.

svalbard wildlife report 1_2017
Polar Bear in front of glaziers in Hornsund.
svalbard wildlife report 1-2017
Polar Bear in front of glazier in Hornsund.

Hornsund, one of the most beautiful places in Svalbard.

We started out in the fjords Ekman-fjorden and Dickson-fjorden, in the Isfjorden area not far from Longyearbyen, where we found a Polar Bear mother with two cubs far away into the fjord-ice. This year offered a lot of ice north and east of Svalbard and in some of the fjords. After this we set course for Hornsund almost at the south corner of Spitsbergen.

Here we had some fantastic situations with wildlife. Polar Bears, Beluga Whales and seals. The ice conditions gave good possibilities for hunting areas for Polar Bears, and we were lucky to see 4-5 of them in this area.

svalbard wildlife report 1_2017
Glasious Gull on the ice. "Hornsundtind" in the background.
svalbard expedition
MS Malmö anchored to the fjord ice in Hornsund.

A Polar Bear and a drowned camera in Hornsund.

A special situation occurred when Audun Rikardsen wanted to photograph with a remote controlled camera and a wide angel lens near a seal hole. He mounted the camera only 30 centimeter from the breathing hole and hoped a seal or other wildlife should show up. He was lucky and a Polar Bear came by. After a lot of pictures of the bear coming straight towards the camera, the bear got tired of everything and dropped the camera down in the breathing hole in the ice. Now the camera, fish eye lense and the memory card still is to be found on 130 meters depth in Hornsund 🙂

svalbard wildlife report 1_2017
The mountain "Hornsundtind".

Walrus in Magdalenefjord.

We then followed the vest coast along Spitsbergen to the north and had different situations with wildlife. We could not reach further than Raud-fjorden because of the ice. We visited Magdalenefjord, Kongsfjord, Krossfjord and St. Jonsfjorden also. We had different situations with Walruses during this part of the expedition. In Magdalenefjord we had a single Walrus in front of the glazier in the same bay as the colony. In Magdalenefjord we also had two Arctic Foxes, one of them very dark and it probably was a socalled “Blue Fox”.

svalbard wildlife report 1_2017
Panorama in front of the glazier in Magdalenefjord. A Walrus is resting on the ice.
svalbard wildlife report 1_2017
Walrus. Captured by using underwater housing.
svalbard wildlife report 1_2017
Ice sculptures in Krossfjorden and by "Liljehök-glazier".

The group, all of the participants from Norway, that joined this expedition had 9 fantastic days and nights in fantastic weather. We had a lot of sunshine. MS Malmö and the crew worked as usual very good. Even in a early expedition like this we found 9 Polar Bears, two-three of them in good photography range, 100 Walruses, Belugas and some birdlife.

svalbard wildlife report 1_2017
Audun Rikardsen was joining this expedition as a photographic guide together with Svein Wik.
svalbard wildlife report 1_2017
Svalbard Ptarmigan photographed the day before we sailed out with MS Malmö.
svalbard wildlife report 1_2017
Participants spend some time on fjord ice photographing a Walrus.
svalbard wildlife report 1_2017
Happy participants in the snow on some fjord ice.

Just to show how our journey was we have made a map of the travel route and marked some geographical names along the route. Weather and ice conditions usually is the main factors that we consider what to do and where we can go.

svalbard wildlife report 1_2017
Travel route.

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