VIRTUAL EXPLORATIONS > ARCHIVED EXPLORATIONS > ELYSIUM ARTISTS FOR THE ARCTIC
Part 5: The Most Stunning Landscape Available on Earth
Posted: Thursday, September 3, 2015
GPS Coordinates to the Svalbard Archipelago: 76.8372004, 6.7904879
This afternoon, we were treated to some of the most stunning landscapes available on planet Earth. The sun emerged from a thick layer of clouds just before we all boarded the Zodiacs revealing a polar bear swimming in the distance. Our day star cast its warmth and light on the glacier and icebergs we were about to explore, highlighting their stark yet whimsical character. The icebergs, which are so luminous as to seem they were glowing from an internal energy source, were scattered across the waters of Hinpolen Stretet. We were so astounded by the incredible natural beauty of this particular area that it took us a few moments to realize that there was a group of walruses frolicking in the water not far in front of us. First there were five, then seven, then ten young walruses all poking their heads out of the water and behaving the way dolphins do when they spy hop. It was exciting to see these big marine mammals bobbing up and down in the water checking us out and enjoying their afternoon as much as we were.
Some Zodiacs stayed on the water for a couple hours cruising next to the glacier, and others made land so Elysium members could disembark and explore. This landing in Palanderbukta could not have been more rewarding for photographers if we had designed the place ourselves. We anchored on a rocky beach made up of stones created by glaciers and polished by an unforgiving sea and punctuated by ice chunks of every shape and size that looked as if they have been forged from glass. From wide angle to macro, this location provided gorgeous images for absolutely everyone. If it had not been for the encroaching cold and sharp wind, we probably would have stayed there for days.
These few hours we spent on sea and land will forever be ingrained into our collective memories and will serve to remind us of the incredible beauty that envelops the top of our blue planet.
Going Up North:
GPS Coordinates to Sjuøyane (The Seven Islands Group): 80.6514417, 19.369785
Overnight we sailed to the Seven Islands group — the farthest north we have been so far. We are near Phippsoya and we already have reports of walruses swimming around the ship. We don’t want to put any divers or snorkelers in the water for safety reasons — because of those walruses swimming around. Our goal for the morning is to spend a few hours cruising around on zodiacs to see and photograph some of these juvenile walruses. Some of the team have polecams (cameras with underwater housing that can be extended underwater from a small boat on a pole to take underwater shots — while staying dry!). The other exciting bit of news is that on previous visits to this area by our guide team, there has been some good polar bear viewing.
Hopefully, there will be an opportunity for diving and snorkeling this afternoon!