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Svalbard (me too)


vikramghanekar
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vikramghanekar

Than you

@janzin I didn't know Ivory Gull was such a rarity. I just wanted to see which birds were scavenging on the kill.

Thank you @kilopascal. It's worth spending couple of days in Oslo.  I loved the ambience of the Vigeland Park. One can spend hours  watching both birds and people.

Thank you @jmharack, @The_Norwegian, @Jil, @Kitsafari.

 

Here comes the last instalment.

 

We were now in Isfjorden, not too far away from Longyearbyen. It was evening by now and Lady Luck was not smiling. We had usual dinner at 8pm. I retired early but a few guys were up on the bridge scanning. 

At midnight, Theo knocked on my door. Wake up, there is a bear on the shore. We should be in the Zodiac in 15 minutes!

I scrambled from the bed, half asleep. Jumped into the "suit", carried my gear and was out on the deck in less than 10. I scanned the ice edge but couldn't see anything.

Within next 5 minutes everyone was there!  Apparently, there was a mother-cub duo out on fast ice, although a little away. There was another ship standing by. Their Zodiacs were already in water motoring to the sighting.

Soon enough, Zodiacs were lowered and we were away.

Now I could see a bear mother and her cub some distance away from the ice edge. The low hanging sun was directly behind them and it was a bit difficult to see. But 2 more Zodiacs were already near the ice edge with lenses pointing in the direction of the bear.

At the same time, on our right, the sail ship MS Arctica was anchored practically on the ice edge, looking at the same bears.

As we got closer, suddenly, someone realised, there was another bear on the right side of Arctica! Our guide swiftly manoeuvred the boat towards right, away from the mother-cub sighting towards Arctica.

 

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Amazingly, the bear on the right (a young male apparently) was nosing close to the sail ship! It had probably caught scent of the meat cooking in the ship's galley.

 

As we waited and watched , the bear gradually made its way to the left side of the boat, giving me an opportunity to click an interesting photo. The bear was up on his hind legs, paws on the ship's deck poking its nose through the railing. It looked too close for comfort. Had the bear managed to get up (I don't know if it could have done it), it would have been a major disaster. The captain of ship didn't pull away or fire a flare gun to scare away the bear. I guess he was walking a thin line there.

 

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Finally the bear realised it wasn't getting anything from the ship and lost interest. Immediately, it noticed the mama-cub duo in the distance and started to make its way towards them. This was going to be interesting.

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Beautiful light 

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The bear mother (Frost as she is known) realised the approaching danger, turned around to face the stranger.

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Her cub is hiding behind her

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The cub decides to peek.

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Frost was much larger than the intruder but she didn't want to take any chances and decided to move away.

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She has kept herself between the intruder and the cub. The intruder tried to follow, but she turned around and gave a warning. Looks like a snarl .

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The duo were away.

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They started walking briskly, away from the water's edge

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The intruder now could be seen at the spot Frost had previously occupied, standing looking "forlorn". I am sure this is my anthropomorphic interpretation. It was probably just standing at a seal blow hole, waiting for a seal to poke its head through.

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Our guide decided to let the lone bear be and try to find out what Frost was upto. Unfortunately she and the cub had retreated away . By this time more than an 1 hour had passed when we had entered Zodiac. It was getting really cold and painful. I couldn't feel my toes and fingertips. Finally, a decision was made to head back to the ship for a quick warm up, back in the Zodiac if Frost started to move. One of the ladies in our Zodiac was on the verge of tears. She had reached her tolerance for cold and wanted to be back on the Freya asap. Our guide motored our way back. Out of 5, 4 of us got down. However, as soon as we were on the deck, the guide shouted, "Get back, she has started moving". The lady and her husband, decided to call it a day while the rest of us speeded back to the sighting.

Frost walking along the ice edge. Her collar is visible.

 

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Cub

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Playing with an ice "diskette"

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Tumbling along

 

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A quick reprimand from Frost

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Walking away

 

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The smile says it all

 

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It's 3 AM, time to head back to the ship ! 

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Back on the ship, the mood was high. Finally after all the hurdles, this one sighting had made up for it.

 

Later on in the day, we had one more sighting of a bear walking along the ice edge for good part of an hour.

Photos

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Northern Fulmar and bear. (Lucky break)

 

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Some tight shots

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Decided to try something different. Z6 + 14-30 F4

 

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Extreme wide angle gives a different perspective

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Bear walks, Zodiacs follow

 

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After we had our fill, we headed back to the ship.

 

Later in the day, we headed back to Longyearbyen and docked in the port. 

The Captain joined us for dinner that day.

Next day, my flight was at 2pm but we had to vacate our cabins by 9 AM. Fortunately, they allowed our luggage to be stored in the lounge. It was windy and snowing. Some of my co passengers headed to the town in taxis. I stayed put in the lounge, doing nothing till the cab came to pick me.

Flight back was uneventful. At Tromso, we had to not only deplane with our cabin baggage but also collect our checked in baggage, go through the customs and recheck it in. A hassle.

Back in Oslo I stayed at Radisson Conference Centre. There are 3 Radissons at the airport. The Conference centre and Red are in the same building about 800 metre walk from the arrivals. With all the luggage it can be a hassle. Radisson Blue is right across the road, just 100 metres from the arrivals. Better choice.

SO that brings an end to my trip report. I hope you enjoyed it!

Arctic was good but it's a tough trip, weatherise. I am not sure I will do it again. Africa and India, on the other hand, well it's a different matter.

Till next time

Cheers

Vikram

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Kitsafari

awesome encounter! first the interaction with the ship - oh my i see a guy bending down, is he nuts? his head was close to the bear's paws!, then the interaction with Frost and cub, then the wonderful moments of the cub playing. what a sighting to end the trip on a high note!

You had some great viewings that made the trip worthwhile, despite the non-starter at the beginning. 

Thanks for sharing. 

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pomkiwi

Superb pictures and a lovely sighting 

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kittykat23uk

Wow! Looks amazing. Theres no sea ice around longyearbyen now and very little snow.. 

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michael-ibk

Wonderful Polar Bear sightings, you really deserved those after the disappointments at the start. Love all the landscape shots, so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

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jmharack

Wow!  Incredible bear sightings and beautiful photographs!  You were as lucky with bears as you were unlucky with your first two days...  I think I'd be happy with that trade-off!

 

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Atravelynn

You made good use of your time in Oslo.  That's how far I've gotten.

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Atravelynn

That Ivory Gull is so delicate.  What a disappointment to be delayed a couple of days.  Even without those days you had some wonderful sightings, including the ice.  Your nausea must have been between good shots. Those of us from cold climates already know not to lace the boots too tightly. 

 

You have an exciting report going!

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kittykat23uk

Oh that guide of yours has a familiar face! Rinie was our expedition leader on Ortelius! :)

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Thanks for sharing your sightings. Loved the Bear with Artica passengers. Superb.

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I really enjoyed your report 

So frustrating for you at the start but you had some wonderful sightings once the ship got going. Beautiful photos of the bears, and of the scenery. Really stunning 

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Atravelynn

That polar bear so close to your boat does look a little scary because humans are seen as food.  Worth waking up for the polar bear encounters.

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