Franz Josef Land & Svalbard - 2018

fragility and vulnerability of this earthly treasure had been impressed upon all of us, so there was some worry and pessimism about its fate at the hands of man. But our wonderful adventure was not over yet and there were more surprises and satisfactions to come in wonderful Svalbard.

Day 11 – Brasvellbreen Glacier & Alkefjellet Bird Cliff

After a long night of cruising (we slept until 8:30!), we heard some folks complaining that the seas had been rocking and rolling while we sailed into Svalbard. If that were so, we had slept right through the turbulence. There was a lecture at 9 a.m. which we attended.

Then a drive-by ship cruise was announced before lunch. So it was all passengers on deck. And what an impressive sight appeared “to our wondering eyes” (not a sleigh with 8 tiny reindeer— that came later). We were face to face with the 3rd longest glacier in the world—Brasvellbreen, some 113 miles long and 28 miles from its ice-cap to the sea. What a magnificent and incredible sight it was. Not only was its size impressive, but the way the blue sky reflected into its depths, and the bergs that were breaking off caught the shadows and bright spots. Glacial milk bled from the glacier’s foot into the sea water creating a clear demarcation line between sea water and water from the ice-cap. Kay’s pictures will show its glory much better than mere words. Later in the day, we had another ship cruise, this time for an hour in front of the Alkefjellet bird cliff. This very high and craggy granite cliff is home to 120,000 breeding Brunich’s Guillemots. These are very handsome black birds with white accent points. They are among the most seabirds in the world. It was mind-blogging to stand on the deck and hear and watch these hardy birds going about their business of creating, raising and feeding their chicks. Incredibly, some fellow passengers actually saw an Arctic fox descending the precipitous cliff face to steal either eggs or baby birds. Kay and I saw a flash of movement in the indicated area, but she could not get a photo and neither of us saw any detail, no did we know or not the marauder was successful.

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