SVALBARD, A Journey to the Top of The Earth
I have always been excited by the“exploration and discovery” aspects of photography. Over the years I have been blessed to travel and explore the seldom-visited corners of our planet. These last few years I have become sort of an “Arctic-Antarctic”explorer, spending time in Iceland, Greenland, Antarctica, Norway, the Arctic and the Northwest Passage. I love the sense of loneliness, remoteness and vastness found in these places and being able to witness some of the most pristine nature in our world.
My most recent “exploration” took me to the remote archipelago of Svalbard, famous for its wildlife and stunning landscape. After 36 hours of travel I made it to the Hanse Explorer, our ship and home for the next 10 days. Our journey took us to the outskirts of the North Pole, latitude 82.1°N, a mere 483 nautical miles from the Pole. We explored every corner of Svalbard, without a schedule, just studying, with a late cup of coffee, the weather patterns for the next day in order to make a decision as to where to sail.
Zodiac rides provided a front row seat into the magnificence of this universe.Wildlife here thrives and flourishes, thousands of Guillemots fighting for an inch to nest, returning from months at sea, Artic Terns in an exquisite prey-searching aerial dance, Walruses invading beaches in an endless mattress of fur, resting before going out to sea for the rough winter, and the King of the Hill, the Polar Bear, roaming uncontested on his white realm taking care of her young after months of freezing hibernation.
Everyday and every corner held a surprise. One of them was the opportunity to watch, from a very close range, the fight between two females, each one with cubs, for the rights to eat a dead seal. The first female’s cubs where 6 months old, from this years litter, learning to hunt and still breastfeeding. The second, with last years’, 18 months siblings, that are very much into hunting. It was fascinating to watch as the two families struggled to get food, and how at the end, they learned to share and respect each other’s space.
Svalbard is a place like no other, a place you don’t want to leave, a place to get lost in and never come out of.
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