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"Arctic" Expedition to Svalbard

Fairly far north of the Arctic Circle lies an ice-encrusted island group in the Arctic Ocean, Svalbard. Formerly known as Spitsbergen, this archipelago is currently under Norwegian jurisdiction although numerous countries have setup their international polar research stations in selected regions there. Icy mountains and large glaciers characterize the terrain of the islands. There are no native inhabitants but arctic explorers have used Svalbard as their base since the early years. In the winter, the shallow seas around the islands are covered with pack ice but during summer seasons, eco-tourists, including yours truly, visit this unique place.

We flew from Oslo to Longyearbyen (via Tromso, on the northern tip of mainland Norway), where we boarded Prince Albert II of Silversea to start our “arctic expedition”. We explored the area using zodiacs up to twice a day during the 10 days. In many cases, we landed and explored the location; wet landing was necessary on a few occasions. We visited the following areas before sailing back to Tromso:

1) Hike and close view of the 14th of July Glacier
2) Ny Alesund - a settlement of numerous international research stations
3) Breaking some pack ice past the 82-degree North and in search of polar bears and other wildlife.
4) Magnificent Raudfjord of mixed landscape sceneries with some wildlife
5) Poolepynten where walruses hang out
6) Alkhornet with vast tundra landscape, Ahlstrandodden where whale bones from past whaling activities littered the beach, Keulenfjord with amazing icescape scenery
7) Edgeoya - the third largest island of the archipelago where seabirds nests on the cliff
8) Bear Island, located between Svalbard and mainland Norway, this island seems to be a favorite spot for nesting seabirds. This is our last zodiac exploration before sailing back to civilization.

Thank you for visiting this gallery. I hope you enjoy the images and please feel free to leave comments as you see fit here.

Photographic tidbits:
During the planning/preparation, I saw some incredible images of wildlife, especially of polar bears that just made a killing on the internet. I was hoping we would see a fair amount of wildlife although I realized from a fairly long distance. I took a heavy lens with a long reach (200-400mm) plus a 1.4X TC in anticipation but in reality, the wildlife sighting I encountered left a bit to be desired. In a few cases, even a 580mm reach was not sufficient and due to its bulk/weight I didn't take that lens on our zodiac excursion. That’s my (not so good) luck, I guess. In the end, I ended up using a shorter zoom lens (70-300mm) with image stabilizing feature, which turned out to be easier to handle on moving zodiacs, where changing lenses was a chore. For your information, the time on the EXIF data is Pacific DST

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Rainbow at Longyearbyen
Rainbow at Longyearbyen
Resting Place
Resting Place
Posing in Front of 14th July Glacier
Posing in Front of 14th July Glacier
Crystal-clear Running Water
Crystal-clear Running Water
A House of Research Station Staff
A House of Research Station Staff
Nesting Arctic Tern
Nesting Arctic Tern
Defending Their Nest
Defending Their Nest
Locomotive  from Coal Mining Days in the Past
Locomotive from Coal Mining Days in the Past
View From Ny Alesund
View From Ny Alesund
Somewhere Around 82-degree North
Somewhere Around 82-degree North
Nothing But Ice
Nothing But Ice
And a Single Kitiwake
And a Single Kitiwake
Do You Spot the Polar Bear?
Do You Spot the Polar Bear?
Another Exploration Ship
Another Exploration Ship
Ready for Action
Ready for Action
Spotted Near Raudfjord, Svalbard
Spotted Near Raudfjord, Svalbard
Dang! A Bunch of Eco-Tourists.... :)
Dang! A Bunch of Eco-Tourists.... :)
A Bull and His Harem
A Bull and His Harem
Getting Ashore After Feeding
Getting Ashore After Feeding
Juvenile Reindeer
Juvenile Reindeer
Watchfull Bear-Guard
Watchfull "Bear"-Guard
Bear-Proof Dwelling
Bear-Proof Dwelling
Remnants of a Boat
Remnants of a Boat
Remnants of a Boat II
Remnants of a Boat II
Lookout Post for Whales
Lookout Post for Whales
Arctic Wild Flowers
Arctic Wild Flowers
Skelletal Remains of Beluga Whales
Skelletal Remains of Beluga Whales
Skelletal Remains of Beluga Whales
Skelletal Remains of Beluga Whales
Eco-Tourists in Action
Eco-Tourists in Action
Ice Sculptures of Nature
Ice "Sculptures" of Nature
Icescape
Icescape
Icescape
Icescape
Blue Iceberg
Blue Iceberg
Iceberg from Paierlbreen Glacier
Iceberg from Paierlbreen Glacier
Iceberg from Paierlbreen Glacier
Iceberg from Paierlbreen Glacier
Tilted Iceberg
Tilted Iceberg
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