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SVALBARD 2013: II. - Krossfjorden Glacier and the First Polar Bear on Ice
Views: 3210225.8.2013 21:06:48
My dear girls!

Even though I can't bear even a children's swing, as you very well know, I couldn't resist and for what seems about a fiftieth time I enjoy the "pitching and rolling". To put it simply, in the rhythm of waves I'm sliding up and down in my bed, where I took refuge when it was no longer possible to stand by the cabin window, and the skin on my back feels like one of a skinny Shar-Pei. Instead of calming down, the waves seem to have grown since yesterday, rolling over my little window every now and then. Still, a moment before eight a.m. I'm going to eat some breakfast, not feeling exactly sea sick, but not in the top form either. Only the Norwegian, Roy, and the Swedish, Martin, are at ease, having breakfast. Martin is a professional yachtsman, so no wonder. But, surprisingly, there's the Indian guy too. The peaceful atmosphere of a children's swing is coloured by an occasional ringing of falling dishes and as means of a diversion, the 120 kilos worth Indian suddenly, very gracefully, flops back of his chair directly down at my feet under the table. After that I definitely eat only one piece of bread with jam and tea. On the starboard side we have an open sea, on the larboard there is broken ice, individual floating pieces close to one another. Sometimes I look in that direction to make sure where the horizon is.

I'm expecting a hard day.

...from my cabin window... Svalbard. Norway.

In Krossfjorden Fjord where we arrived early in the morning the surface of the sea is calm. Overcast and cold. And strangely quiet. The creaking of the glacier seems a natural part of the quietness. My first real glacier surprised me a little, against the expectations, with its expressive opaline blue colours. We sail in the Zodiac round the floating ice where we see standing kittiwakes, Glaucous Gulls and sometimes a Black Guillemot with red legs in contrast with the ice.

Kittiwake. Krossfjorden. Svalbard. Norway.

Black Guillemot with red legs. Svalbard. Norway.

Martin suddenly: "...look, look!" Pointing at the glacier's wall, where silently a tower of white blue ice is tumbling down to the bay waters, and another one, even bigger, following in a moment. Only after that comes the sound. It is something like a very deep and dark crescendo tumble and thundering. The sound shifts the scene to yet another level of perception towards something vast and dark. These very deep sounds on the border of infrasound have also physiological effects, so it's no wonder that it impresses me even more than it perhaps should. Amazing show altogether, although we are 150 metres away from the head of the glacier. From Svalbardian point of view the Krossfjorden glacier (N 79° 20') is an easily accessible typical glacier calving into the sea. Its head is made of typical towers which are the product of its horizontal and vertical movements, they are beautiful in colour, but in a photo they create a rather chaotic picture, and the towers' falls into the sea are more suited for video than photo.

One of the glacier's towers is falling into the sea. Krossfjorden. Svalbard. Norway.

That was on 16th July. Today, 17th July, we are heading on our boat further north and by the afternoon we will have spotted four polar bears!
Unfortunately they are all quite far away and not willing to wait until we get to them through the "broken ice". Yet I'm filled with hope, because I now know that the polar bear does exist and what's more it exists "here", that means where we are too. The first spotted bear causes an excitement, of course, and Yann, the French professional photographer puts up a contest: "One bear, one beer," presumably to agitate our vigilance. We change at outlooks and everybody tries to find his own bear. In the end, I'll be an explorer of bear no 8.

Polar Bear. Svalbard. Norway.

I don't want it to look that the place was swarming with polar bears, so I want to reveal right at the beginning that we saw, and mostly photographed, only 14 (!) polar bears. We also discover the quite well known fact that polar bears are not white. They are more creamy, lightly like rancid butter. Or to be honest exactly like a thoroughly rancid butter. And that is a good comparison, even though the polar bear's fur colour depends slightly on current light, it really shows how much fat the spoken bear has. This simply means that the fatter a bear the more rancid its fur and consequently the better condition the bear is in. Females bringing out their cubs are whiter and the cubs are usually almost white.

Polar Bear. Svalbard. Norway.

That evening we found our fifth bear. And as we discover it's not alone! There is another one! They might be siblings just before separation, or they might even be a couple! And they have a prey! At that moment we don't even realize how lucky we are. Broken ice is not so dense now and so it provides good conditions for shooting from Zodiac. Before the night I have photographed 130 GB of data. Mostly "face to face" with the two polar bears.

Polar Bear. Svalbard. Norway.

Polar Bear. Svalbard. Norsko. Norway.

Bohdan Němec, Latitude N 79°20´ and N 49°45 (Pilsen, Czech Republic), July/August 2013

Coming next: Two Bears - Siblings or Couple, Game or Love?

Polar Bear. Svalbard. Norway.
Comments on article 'SVALBARD 2013: II. - Krossfjorden Glacier and the First Polar Bear on Ice'
Comment 1-5 / 5
27.8.2013 17:42:13
Michal Mašík
Netrpělivě jsem čekal na pokračování. Ta druhá od konce s tím rackem je úžasná. Ostatní fotografie jsou také super. Musí tam být hezky. Zimu nemusím osobně :-), ale určitě to stojí za návštěvu takové místo.
29.8.2013 15:17:52
Bohdan Němec
Michale, jsem rád, že se Vám líbí. A doufám, že si další pokračování také přečtete a nezklame vás text ani fotky.
27.8.2013 10:31:23
Roman Šlejmar
Dobrý den, zábavné čtení a krásné fotky! Na člověka dýchne to dobrodružství, které jste jistě proživali. Je fajn, že vaše a Ondrovo fotky jsou stylem tak odlišné, jako byste byl každý někde jinde:-) Těším se na další článek! Ať se vám daří! Roman
29.8.2013 15:15:44
Bohdan Němec
Děkuji za zastavení i za přečtení. Pokud to vidíte tak, že Ondra i já máme svůj úhel pohledu, svůj styl, pak jsem jedině potěšen. Asi bych ani nechtěl (v tom nejlepším slova smyslu), abychom měli fotky stejné. Možná se ale v některých fotkách od Ondry a ode mne ze stejného místa najde více shody...
25.8.2013 21:28:52
Jiří Míchal
Prima čtení a fotky.
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