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Overnight we travelled from Jan Mayen to East Greenland, with the intention of cruising along the ice edge, hoping for Polar Bears and other marine wildlife. A slightly later start to the day as we moved our clocks back one hour last evening. Anna-Lena Ekeblad from Longyearbyen gave a wonderful presentation on her 28 years in the Arctic. Longyearbyen experiences complete darkness from 26 November to 8 March every season, Polar Bears wander the streets and the Governor exercises complete authority over this small community. Drug users and other social “miscreants” are generally removed quickly, from an environment where one has to be gainfully employed, and most stay for 2 or 3 years. Doors are never locked, just in case one has to pop inside should a Polar Bear be encountered! A somewhat artificial community, funded largely by Norway on account of sovereignty.

Micropaleontology lecturer Reed Scherer had his lecture “Climate Change over time: Is what’s Past Prologue?” interrupted by a PA announcement that a Polar Bear had been spotted on the sea ice. Indeed we were blessed with a wonderful viewing of this young male swimming and walking over the ice, searching for food. Some guests battle to take cues on where to look, as A&K staff patiently tried to point out the bear to them. In some instances I gave up trying to point out the bear, and instead took a photograph with the guest’s camera just for confirmation. The ice blocked the ship’s progress, but we had a fantastic viewing of the beautiful creature.

Photo coach Andy Coleman gave a fine lecture on photographing people and cultures, showing a large selection of his own exquisite images. I presented Lines in the Ice, a story about Nansen, Cook and Peary in their quests for the North Pole. Guests were then summoned back on deck, to view the rare, slow, huge Greenland Bowhead Whale. Hunted almost to extinction (300 individuals left), this great cetacean has gradually increased in numbers, but very seldom seen. Some staff who have lived in the Arctic for 30 years had never seen one until today. The significance of this sighting may not have been fully appreciated by all guests, especially those hoping to see another Polar Bear. Alas, no luck on that hope..
Recaps was delayed by the whale sighting, and after dinner a piano recital was given by Olena Havrylova. Captain took Le Boreal close to a massive tabular iceberg during dinner, causing great excitement.
Tonight clocks are turned back a further hour to coincide with Greenland time zone – a long way west of Norway indeed.

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