Svalbad Archipelago

(East of Greenland between the Greenland Sea and Barents Sea)

Some of my photographs from the Svalbad trip have been published. They have been used to illustrate Angie Butler's article in the weekend edition of the Sunday Independent in the UK.

In the main picture on the title page spread you can see the "Sergei Vavilov", our Russian oceanographic research vessel viewed in the background through the arch in the iceberg and the top photograph of the next page is of a section of the cliff face where more than one hundred thousand pairs of Brünnich’s guillemots are nesting before their fledglings take their first flight – that is before any wily arctic foxes can raid the nests perched precariously on the sheer cliff. We have already sighted two raiders making their way along the precipice. Both of these shots were taken from a Zodiac as we bobbed in the seas beneath the escarpment.

Magdalena Fjord on Spitsbergen Island in the Svalbad Archipelago

Magdalena Fjord on Spitsbergen Island in the Svalbad Archipelago

Bottom right is Frank Wild's hut, special for all of us who went to the Antarctic last year. This is what remains of Frank’s aborted attempt to mine coal above the Arctic Circle. Special too for Angie who was with us on this trip and whose book, “The Quest for Frank Wild” chronicles the life of this exceptional polar explorer.*

Again, we have been very lucky on this trip with many polar bear sightings, here a female and her two cubs found sleeping on an ice flow as well as whales; both orca (killer whale) and bowhead whales. Below is a killer whale and calf and we’ve seen many seals and walruses as well as some rare sightings of narwhal.

The Arctic is not all in grayscale. Indeed, the ice predominantly white of course is often airbrushed with many colours principally indigo and turquoise of varying hues. Flora too is often found in bright colours clinging to rocky outcrops and stoically fighting the below freezing temperatures and bleak winds. We have been lucky too as we had all been hoping for an appearance of the aurora borealis, the northern lights – the mystical, celestial light show. For just one night we were privileged to witness a wonderful display lasting almost an hour. As a bonus we also had the glow of bioluminescence in the wake off the stern of the “Vavilov”. So, in combination, a magical display of light works - the swirling, spinning neon-like green incandescence above and a myriad of twinkling, bobbing golden light bulbs left in our wake.

*More on Frank Wild at a later date.

#Photography #Arctic

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