The World’s Svalbard Expedition Begins: Farewell Tromso, Hello Bjørnøya!
Tromso in northern Norway is the stepping off point for many Arctic adventures, including The World’s 2013 Expedition to the White Sea and Franz Josef Land, and is again the stepping off point for The World’s 2018 Svalbard Expedition. As we departed in calm conditions and fair seas, the scenery was stunningly Norwegian; deep fjords and the imposing peak of Store Lenangstind embedded in the Lyngen Alps.
We arrived offshore of Bjørnøya (Bear Island) at a very sensible hour. The weather, with low-clouds clinging to the bird-covered cliffs of Bear Island, made for quite an atmospheric scene. The conditions were favorable for our Zodiac cruising and the Expedition Team set out with full Zodiacs of adventurous folks, bound for the island. As we sailed closer, the intermittent sunlight played along the contours of the landscape, momentarily highlighting the crags, coves, pillars, and arches along the coast.
Bjørnøya’s seabird colonies along the southern end of the island are among the largest colonies found in the entire Northern Hemisphere, and as such, are a spectacular sight to behold. Upon nearing the cliffs, the cacophony of calls from all of the birds perched along the ledges above created quite the auditory experience!
The Zodiacs and all aboard were able to sail along the almost nine-kilometer long stretch of coastline, photographing the birdlife, plant life, and incredible geology along the way. The cliffs were absolutely alive with birdlife; Brünnich’s guillemot, common guillemot, black-legged kittiwake, norther fulmar, and glaucous gulls lined the cliff edges and wheeled in the skies above.
We said our goodbye to Bjørnøya in the late afternoon, heading north again, this time bound for the island of Spitsbergen.