June 13, 2013
cruised around the north side of Spitsbergen Island to the northeast.
The weather was very snowy and the pack ice much thicker. We were
awakened to the announcement that there were 2 walrus on the ice
in front of the ship. We got in fairly close but with the snow it
wasn't possible to get real clear photos.
the ship repositioned for a polar bear spotted sleeping on the ice.
We watched as he rose up and lumbered away, jumping between patches
of ice. What a nice way to start the morning.
After breakfast, one of the naturalists gave a slide presentation
about polar bears. They are related to brown bears but have been
around alot longer. There are about 20,000 polar bears in the world
today, with about 3000 up around the Barents Sea where we are. They
were hunted almost to extinction but hunting of polar bears has
been outlawed here since 1975 so they are making a comeback. They
are totally dependent on the ice for their food supply. Their main
prey are Ringed Seals and Bearded Seals. They need at least 1 Ringed
Seal every 5-7 days to survive. With the ice melting faster than
before, there is concern about the survival rate of the bears.
rest of the day we spent searching through the pack ice for more
polar bears but none were found. A weather front came in with snow
and low clouds so it was hard to see. But it was fun watching the
ship go through the ice. We reached just over 80 degrees north latitude
on the northeastern side of Spitzbergen, just about 10 degrees from
the North Pole.
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