June 10, 2013
an overnight voyage from Tromso, we made our first stop in the region
of Svalbard. We arrived at the south end of Bear Island (Bjornoya)
which is a lump of rock in the Barents Sea about 250 miles northeast
of mainland Norway. It is situated in the convergence between warm
waters from the south and cold waters from the arctic. This creates
extremely productive conditions for fish and other marine life.
We boarded zodiacs for a cruise along the coastline. The
steep cliffs support a vast number of breeding seabirds. Normally
the weather in this area is very poor, with the island often shrouded
in fog, but we were fortunate to not only be able to go out in the
zodiacs, but also see the highest peaks of the island and its dramatic
900 foot sea cliffs.
are pretty amazing creatures since they live their entire lives
on the ocean except to breed. All of their food comes from the ocean
and they have an extra organ that converts sea water to the fresh
water their body requires. They then excrete the excess salt through
their nostrils. One of the seabirds, (the arctic tern) migrates
each year from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back again, spending
time in the summer season at each location. It is estimated that
there are over 1/2 million pairs of nesting seabirds on Bear Island.
It was an amazing site. The ledges were often slanted and very narrow.
Guillemots actually lay their eggs directly on the rock ledge without
a nest. Their eggs have a narrow end so they don't roll off.
To view more photos from Bear Island, please go to Bear
Island Photo Gallery. To read about the next location visited,
go to Spitsbergen.
Locations Visited Photos Map