The Dragon Wagon

The Dragon Wagon
The landscaping changes often.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Svalbard Wildlife - Part 1

On the evening of June 6th the ship went out to where the continental shop drops off into deep water in hopes of finding some whales.  We were rewarded with a sighting of Fin Whales, the second largest whales.

A couple of Barnacle Geese.

More guillemots packed onto the cliffs.

We found our first couple of walruses. 

Chief Engineer's Tour

We were told by our good friend Bob to ask for a tour by the chief engineer.  We asked about such a tour soon after we were on board.  They took our names and were told that such tours depended on the chief engineer's available time.  We finally got an invitation for a tour and promptly accepted.

The chief engineer at the control panel.

They were well equipped with tools, including a metal lathe.

This ship is powered by two BIG 12 cylinder, turbo-charged, diesel engines.

This is the trash and recycling storage room.  Since disposal at Longyearbyen city in Svalbard is prohibitively expensive, they have to store solid trash and recycling until they return to the mainland.  This was just the beginning of their summer around Svalbard.
They have to do laundry for the crew, naturalists, guests, restaurant and housekeeping, so they keep several machines very busy.

Into the Ice!

Early on June 6th we finally reach the archipelago of Svalbard.  This large group of islands is well above the arctic circle and the sun does not set for about four months during the summer.

One of our first views of the southern end of Svalbard.

Soon we were sailing into the pack ice off the south-eastern edge of Svalbard.

A group of seals swimming in the pack ice.  This was a good sign, since seals are the primary prey of the polar bears.

Lots of seals.

We headed back into open water and sailed around the southern end of Svalbard to get to the western side.
Here are several images that try to convey the majesty of the that scenery.

Polar Bear Tracks!!!

Monday, June 27, 2011


On June 5th we were approaching Bjørnøya (Bear Island) in the Barents Sea.  As we near the island, we saw increasing numbers of Common Guillemots on the water.

Once the ship got too close, they would commonly dive.

Our first view of Bear Island.

Near the island we saw large numbers of guillemots.

Some of the individuals are the "bridled form", having a monocular like marking around the eye.

One of the waterfalls coming off the cliffs.  Notice the "frozen waterfall" of ice in the grotto in the lower left.

Many of the non-mating guillemots were "hanging out" at locations like these rocks near the water.

The guillemots are very graceful underwater, but because of their plump bodies and short wings they really struggle to get airborne off the water.

Kittiwake nests are found at the tops of the white streaks.  They look pretty precarious to me!

The nesting guillemots take any little bit of cliff ledge that they can get.

This wreck was a Russian fishing boat.  Supposedly, the captain and crew were drunk and nobody was on watch when they hit the island.

Norway's Fjords - Part 3

On June 3rd, we sailed to the head of Tysfjorden where the ship dropped anchor and we went ashore via zodiacs.

A hike up to a ridge top gave us a fabulous view of some large waterfalls.

The ship anchored at the head of the fjord.

An old building we passed during the hike.