Polar Bear Hunt 2015 - Day 11

Expedition Day 6: Magdelenefjorden and Smeerenburg

What was planned
What actually happened

We awoke to heavy seas and a dark grey sky. Soon we steered closer to the coast and slipped into the calmer waters of Magdelenefjorden. This is one of the most popular tourist ship locations, and was once a shelter for whaling ships. It also featured as the picnic location for Victorian tourists. We spent most of the morning here. A few brave (mad??) people decided this was the ideal location for a swim so in they went - and came out just as fast! - before embarking again and heading out to sea. Soon we headed into the calmer waters of another fjord where we cruised in the Zodiacs around small bergs of blue ice and then close to the snout of the Smeerenburgbreen glacier. Later, as we headed north another bear was spotted and we crept up close to the cloast to watch as the bear made her way along the coast. at the birds and oher wildlife.


Magdelenefjorden is a small sheltered harbour and it is obvious why it was used by the whalers to escape from the rough sea. The small peninsula that juts out into the fjord was used as a burial ground by the whalers, but over the years the frost heave has puhed the bodies back out of the ground to the delight of the bears and archeologists who were fascinated by the clothing and other artifacts that were uncovered. Today the ground is roped off. We walked along the coast a short distance then climbed the hill for good views. But madness descended on some people and they dived into the freezing water. Back on board it was lunch time and then a short rest before our next fjord adventure.

The sky was dark and sea was rough
As we moved along the coast it brightened a little
We then moved towards the entrance to the fjord
passing a typical glaciated landscape.
The water was calmer inside Magelenefjord
Our ship anchored behind the ridge that provides calmer water
And the Zodiacs buzzed around checking for polar bears (or lack thereof...)
Then we were on shore on a flat sandy tidal beach
At this site the whalers had set up blubber ovens to render down the whales.
On the outer side of the ridge the large granite boulders give you an impression of how rough the sea can be.
The dark green shows where moss and lichen manage to survive.
Part way up the hill, the view back along the ridge to our ship in the distance.
Selfie time...
That's a better shot.
And a rare glimpe of the photographer.
Our ship at anchor and a small French ship that came in to escape the heavy seas.
Ice at the head of the fjord
Lichen struggling to survive.
All the red figures congregated on the beach...
to watch a few mad people dash into the water
They seem to be surprised that it was cold
Or surprised that they had survived.
The more sensible stayed wrapped up and warm.
Before speeding back to the ship for lunch.
We then motored out of the fjord under a grey sky.

Video of Magelenefjord

A short video taken as we passed up the coast towards the entrance to Magelenefjord. The sea was rough adn the wind blowing strongl. There is no sound on this video

Video of the polar plunge

Yes, they were mad...


With the wind still strong and the seas rough, we searched out the sheltered waters at the head of Smeerenburg and the glacier that tumbled down into the sea. It was a jumble of ice, badly fractured as it crept over the rocky land, but it provided a nice quiet environment for us to cruise around in the Zodiacs to look at the blue ice bergs that were floated in the bay. While we were there, more ice fell off the face of the glacier but we were not troubled by the ice or the wave that followed.

Smeerenburg was more of an ice fall than a glacier.
But the Zodiacs took us close
Passing lots of blue ice bergs on the way
A large block of ice fell into the water, shattered into millions of pieces.
After a pleasant time amongst the bergs we headed out to sea once more.

Along the snout of a glacier

A short video taken as we motored in the Zodiac near the snout of the glacier

Another Bear

Just when we thought we could settle down for a rest and quiet drink in the late afternoon another bear was sighted. This one was ambling along the edge of the ice close to the water, so we crept up close and watched as she walked clowly along the coast. Through binoclars we could see she had a tracking collar - hence the "she". When she reached the rocky point it became difficult to clamber over the rocks, so she slipped into the water and swam off.

There's a bear on the dark rocks....
That's better - but she was a long way away.
The rocks became too large to climb over
So she jumped into the water and swam away.

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Last updated: 30/11/2015