2003 Expedition Blog - Day 5

Date:

Friday, 30 May 2003, 17:29

From:

Val Byfield

Expedition:

2003 Expedition

Subject:
Arrived in Hornsund, Spitsbergen
Attachments: -

After crossing more sea ice in the middle of the night, we reached Spitsbergen in the early hours of the morning, and are now heading up the fjord known as Hornsund. It's called that because the first people to arrive here in the 1600 found a deer horn.

It's freezing, and the wind-chill makes it even colder. Glaciers sweep down off the jagged mountains into the sea, and we have hit drifting ice more than once. Luckily the Noorderlicht has a reinforced hull.

Today was our first chance to set foot on land. Saw polar bear tracks, but luckily no polar bears. Also a pair of rock ptarmigan. The female is camouflage coloured speckled brown, but the male stays white all summer, so he can draw predators away from the female and their young.

We hope to pay a visit to a Polish research station near the entrance to the fjord. They have been doing plankton research in this area for many years, and I am sure they will have a lot to tell us about the ecology of the area.

Val

Date:

Friday, 30 May 2003, 18:29

From:

Sarah Fletcher

Expedition:

2003 Expedition

Subject:
Trek across the ridge
Attachments: -

Today we did our Scott impression - trekking across the snow and ice for a chance to stretch our legs! Before we went onto the land, we were giving a talk by Ko, our guide, who told us that we all had to stay behind him because he was the man with the gun. Now, in this environment, the "man with the gun" is a very important individual.. he's the one we all have to stay behind just in case we should happen to meet a polar bear.

At this time of year, the bears are very hungry. However, they are cautious of humans and are unlikely to come too close. But it's always better to be safe than to be sorry! As it happens, we didn't see any bears, but we did see lots of bear tracks. Those guys have big paws! We also saw Arctic Fox tracks and Reindeer tracks.

Now we're all back on board and heading for the Polish Research Station. We have decided not to meet the Poles tonight, but to have a quiet night in and meet them in the morning.

All the filming is going well - we have happy directors on board, and everyone else is busy doing their individual tasks. Tomorrow after we've been to the research station we are heading for another Fjord - and if we find an ice shelf Val and I will be doing another plankton trawl. We'll let you know how it goes.

Sarah

2003 expedition route map