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June 14, 2013

Hiking through the snowBecause a storm had blown in from the north, the passage to the east side of Spitzbergen was closed off in pack ice, so the captain headed south down the west side to a large fjord system called Kongsfjord. We entered an arm of the fjord called Krossfjord which eventually branched into a pretty fjord called Lillihook. We stopped in a small bay called Signehamna. This is a historic site from WWII. It was the site of a small German weather radio station that was later bombed by Norway. We took a beautiful, though somewhat strenuous hike, around the hills surrounding the bay. Mountains in SignehamnaWhen we arrived, the weather was cold and snowing. Snow from the night before blanketed the hillsides so we were forced to break trail and hike through some deep snow. Fortunately, the snow stopped and the sun broke through the clouds, revealing the stunning views of the fjord and mountains and glaciers that were all around us. By the time we returned to the ship 3 hours later, it was starting to cloud over again so we were really lucky.



Looking at dolphinsThe ship then moved to the end of the continental shelf and deep water (1000 ft) where there is an upwelling of currents that bring alot of nutrients for marine mammals to enjoy. We were on whale watch! We could see a lot of spouting in the distance but finally spotted a fin whale near the ship. Unlike the humbacks, they do not show their flukes so all we could see was their dorsal fin and back as they dove down to get more food. A group of white-beaked dolphins decided to surf-ride just off the bow. Then a pair of blue whales passed close to the ship. This is the largest whale species and a rare sight as they were almost hunted to extinction.



To view more photos from Krossfjord, please go to Krossfjord Photo Gallery. To read about the next location visited, go to Bellsund.


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