September 28, 2010

Northern Light

Despite popular belief, 24hours day light isn't really that conducive to seeing the northern lights. Not so, it lends itself more to staying up too later because it feels like midday instead of midnight.

My time in the Arctic was spent aboard the 115m long Sergy Vavilov (a russian ship) working for an American company called Quark. Our tasking was 11day voyages around the island of Spitsbergen which is the largest island in the Svalbard archipelago.

home sweet home

My job on the ship was to run the sea kayaking programme and make sure none of the kayakers were eaten by polar bears. Not as easy at it may sound. A typical day on the ship started with a staff meeting in the bar which seemed fitting because it was usually where the day would end. Following the days brief it was off to the dining hall for a massive cooked breakfast. After another oversized meal it was off on the first of the days excursions. Most of the passengers would head out for a zodiac cruise or a shore landing. This is when we would load up in the sea kayaks and head off for our own adventure.

not a bad day in the office

spot the polar bear

Excursions would range between 1.5-3.5 hours long depending on where we were and who would turn up (polar bears and walrus are a little further up the food chain). Following our morning trip it would be back to the ship to warm the bodies and eat another amazing meal. During lunch and the resulting food coma, the ship would often relocate to another site for the afternoons excursion. This meant we could maximise our, eating, sleeping and adventuring.

79 degrees north. Moody

They kind of look cute until your see their teeth and realise that they will eat you... not good.

We the conditions suited, we would push our way into some of the massive ice flows and go in search of polar bears. There is quite an art to finding a white thing (the bear) while they're conserving energy (we call it sleeping) in the middle of a giant ice thing (sea ice). During this time we would have a staff member posted on bridge watch looking for bears. When the conditions were really good we would do this from 6am thru to 2am the next morning.

How close.... this close. Priceless

Reindeer with the infamous red nose

finding polar bear is harder than you realise... white on white

polar nap time

One of my favorite photos from the summer. White bears can jump.

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