The islands farthest north

After a couple of days in thick fog along the ice edge, and with no apparent changes in weather condition to be expected for the next days we decided to move south to the northern parts of Nordaustlandet and the northernmost islands of Svalbard.

Tavleøya

The big island in the centre of picture is Vesle Tavleøya, the small island just behind it is Rossøya which are the northernmost islands of Sjuøyane (Seven Islands), which lie at the far north of the Svalbard archipelago. Photo: Jon Aars / Norwegiasn Polar Institute

Duvefjorden

Duvefjorden on the northern coastline of Nordaustlandet photographed from the helicopter on the way to commence a polar bear counting transect. The small mountains lining the fjord are reflected in the still sheltered water of a fjord. It was a relatively good day for flying. Photo: Nick Cobbing

Floating sea ice in a fjord

Small pieces of sea ice floe floating in a fjord on the north coast of Nordaustlandet. Photo: Nick Cobbing

View of sea ice from helicopter deck on boat

Looking across the port side of the Lance's helicopter deck while waiting to board the helicopter for a polar bear counting transect. Photo: Magnus Andersen

It took 10 hours of sailing, but we expected to find good working conditions there, and we would have to cover these areas sooner or later during the cruise anyway.

We came out of the fog east of Duvefjorden, one of the wide north facing fjords in Nordaustlandet, and Lance found a suitable place to lie in the fjord. We woke up to excellent conditions the next morning, high clouds, no wind and more importantly, no fog.

During the next days we covered the eastern areas of the north coast of Nordaustlandet, while our second helicopter team, based in Longyearbyen, covered the western parts and also land areas down along Hinlopenstretet. In a relatively short time we had flown transects over a large area, which we had expected to be challenging because of the typically bad weather conditions often occuring here for activities such as ours.

Before we turned north to the ice edge again, we also flew transect flights over Sjuøyane, this group of islands characterised by its protected beaches between steep mountain slopes and cliffs, and not least by the northernmost island in Svalbard, Rossøya.

Our weekend on Nordaustlandet had been a success; we had covered an important area and collected a number of important polar bear observations.