Posted by: tim ellis | July 25, 2016

Svalbard – Monday 25th July 2016 – Sea Ice

Polar Bear
We are awoken at around 2:30 am by Hannah on the tannoy, announcing the first sighting a Polar bear swimming ahead of the ship.  A quick scramble into clothes ensues, followed by a mustering on the forward observation deck.  The bear is swimming along the ice front, so it takes everyone a little time to spot.  Gradually more and more people find it, and help point it out to others. Just the head is visible, but once you have found it, it is easy to keep tracking its progress.  Eventually though, it climbs out onto the ice floe, albeit briefly, when it becomes much more obvious.  It returns to the water, swims to the next floe, then climbs out again.  He remains out for longer this time, allowing for better (and given the ships movement) closer viewing.

Polar Bear
The weather was quite good, if cold and windy while we were watching the bear, by breakfast there is a sea mist and the ice we are sailing along is barely visible. Eventually it clears, and calm conditions allow for a zodiac cruise along the ice edge – including a chance to get out and stand on ice floe at 81o04’ North.  There is not much wildlife in evidence – a couple of Kittiwake and a Skua, then just before we return to the ship, a young inquisitive Harp Seal

In the Sea Ice
We continue to cruise North East along the ice edge until mid-afternoon when we turn back South again, but wildlife remains scarce – we do see a Bearded Seal hauled out on the ice, but he is quite away off from the boat.

Bearded Seal
Hannah gives us a Polar Bear talk as part of the briefly this evening, which includes some photos of this morning’s bear, which she has now decided (after reviewing the pictures) was probably a young male.

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