As is very typical for operating expeditions in Svalbard, plans change based on many variables, which is exactly what happened this morning. With building winds offshore being driven by the massive icecap that covers Nordaustlandet, we had to abort our landing efforts at Agustabukta and set off in search of another adventure Svalbard was waiting to offer us. With near bluebird conditions and surrounded by stunning beauty in panoramic glory, we chose to seek out an area of the Hinlopen Strait where good ice conditions afforded us encounters with Svalbard’s most famous residents, polar bears. As fate would have it, we found 2 lone male polar bears out on the fast ice, sea ice held fast to the shore that is a critical habitat for the bears and their forage. It’s such a powerful experience to witness these magnificent rulers of the ice in their natural habitat, watching them from a distance in a “fly on the wall” fashion.

Our afternoon was spent kayaking and Zodiac cruising just north of Bjørnsundet in glass-calm conditions, observing walrus and bearded seals, and taking in the surroundings and Svalbard’s wild, pristine beauty.