“Every traveller knows the intense satisfaction and thrill such a moment brings; the joy of getting a first hazy view of wide new territory to be explored is not less than, and may often surpass, the joy of exploration itself” – Nino Tinbergen, Dutch Biologist, Ornithologist and Nobel Prize Winner.
Dutch marine biologist Hella Martens gave a beautifully illustrated presentation on the Cetaceans of the North. Around 90 species in total – 40 whale, 40 dolphin and 7 porpoise species. Along with soundtracks of Humpback Whales songs, bubble-net feeding, lunge feeding and echo location, it really was a masterclass presented by Hella who has more than 20 years experience with these denizens of our oceans.
Isabel Costa from the A&K office in Chicago is available to discuss possible future expedition trips guests may wish to take with A&K. Norwegian botany lecturer Nellie Nielsen spoke about flowers in the Arctic; their special adaptations and mechanisms to survive in this harsh environment, including those whose seeds are dispersed by salty, ocean currents. Nellie is so full of energy, that I believe were Eskom able to plug into her energy, our electricity woes may be over…
By lunchtime we were approaching Jan Mayen, about which Nino Tinbergen’s comment above is utterly appropriate. The island is named after Dutchman Jan Jacobs May of Schellinkhout, who first visited in 1614. For those wondering about the island’s remoteness; 342miles/550km north of Iceland, 280miles/450 east of Greenland and 400miles/640km south of Svalbard. Literally a tiny speck, only 30miles/50km long and incredibly narrow, in the ocean. A peculiar shape, much like a narrow spoon. The spectacular centre-piece is the symmetrical, glacier-covered volcano Beerenberg (7470feet/2277m) forming the spoon itself at the northern end. Conditions thankfully allowed us to land on the western shore, and guests could explore. Jason Hicks led a walk, intended to be 4km, which became 5.2miles or 8.4km! Jason clearly got confused between 4km and 4 miles, then added some for good measure, in his inimitable style. The guests who joined him loved it. Many walked shorter distances, and explored the whale bones, relics and memorial on the beach. Six Dutch whalers tried to overwinter in 1634, and perished. They are remembered by a plaque, cairn and cross. The black, volcanic beach is littered with driftwood carried here from Siberia.
Moss covers the slopes creating a visually beautiful place, seemingly softer and less arid than Svalbard. The Gulfstream ensures the temperature variation ranges between -4C and 6C (42F). The wind today was rather cool. I was in shorts creating considerable consternation amongst guests who were warmly clad and freezing. In fairness, a large cup of tea and hot shower were much appreciated upon returning to the ship.
Photographer Andy Coleman showed a photograph of a Little Auk flying along the surface of the water straight back towards the ship in the distance. He mentioned that they do this to show Assistant Cruise Director, Mexican Arthur Diaz the way back to the ship. Arthur is now driving Zodiacs. Well, Arthur has a great sense of humour, has only recently begun driving the Zodiacs, and just two days ago destroyed a propeller on rocks. The Team, including myself collapsed with laughter, as Andy calmly proceeded with his photographic advice. Captain Florian Richard then had us in hysterics at Recaps showing us the ship’s movements in the ice, looking for bears and walrus. If a control tower were observing, he assured us, they would have questioned him and his sobriety strongly.
Tomorrow we shall search for bears again in the pack ice on the east coast of Greenland. Excitement levels are high as this A&K cruise proceeds beautifully.