It was a difficult decision to separate from our white shark research project assignment on Cape Cod and venture to the Arctic for two weeks but the chance to join longtime friends on this expedition to the Svalbard Archipelago was too good to pass up. Thus we found ourselves pulling our cameras and cold weather kit together (barely two weeks after returning from steamy Amazonia) for the long journey to the “Top of the World”. The landscapes above the Arctic Circle are barren and stark but the wildlife is distinctive and rare to see. Whales, arctic foxes, walrus, reindeer, nesting seabirds and shorebirds along with waterfowl are all possible as the Arctic enters its short summer. Thus we had many things on our list to find but stamped in bold letters at the top was the iconic polar bear. It would be a first for us if we could find them.
Temperatures in the high Arctic in July are in the 4 degrees to 15 degrees Celsius. Low pressure storms are always possible at high latitudes but we were blessed with calm seas and broken overcast skies for each of our 24 hour days! Our base for the trip was a converted freighter with accommodations for our group that were cozy and our French chef made mealtime extra special. And yes the sun never sets so the search for wildlife on the beaches and slopes never has to stop. Our crew and expert wildlife guides were brilliant at getting us to the places we needed to be. Below are some of the more memorable moments.