This morning we awoke to truly spectacular conditions: barely a breath of wind, flat and calm waters, a clear blue sky, and sunshine. We couldn’t have wished for a better start to our trip!
Our delicious first breakfast on board was followed by briefings about our scheduled activities for the day by expedition leader Stefano. The first appointment was an introduction to the expedition team in the Ice Lounge. We enjoyed learning about the staff who will be our guides for the trip. This was followed by two important safety briefings concerning safety measures for Zodiac operations and polar bears. Then it was time to take our outdoor gear to Base Camp, where the expedition team hoovered our clothes and scrubbed our boots to ensure biosecurity.
At 11:45, photography guide Steve Morello gave a lecture about using iPhones for photography, but this was interrupted by the very exciting announcement that our first Atlantic walrus had been spotted! Everyone excitedly filed out onto the open decks and to the bridge to get a look at this amazing Arctic animal.
After lunch, we went ashore at Gnålodden. Not only was the weather still on our side, but also the wildlife. We had fantastic views of an Arctic fox that was transitioning from its white winter coat into its brown summer coat. Black-legged kittiwakes flew over our heads, journeying from their breeding colony out to sea and back again, calling loudly as they went. The highlight came right at the end of the landing when a large pod of beluga whales was spotted passing right by the shore! We couldn’t believe our eyes! Back on board, Captain Aaron and his bridge team skillfully maneuvered the ship so we could enjoy a prolonged viewing of these milky-white whales. We spotted numerous dark gray calves among the pod. What a fantastic conclusion to a brilliant first day!