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June 10, 2013

Bear IslandAfter 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.


FulmarSeabirds 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. Nesting GuillemotsThe 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.


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