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June 13, 2013

WalrusWe 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.

Polar BearThen 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.

Pack IceThe 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.


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


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