Robin's Adventures

Arctic Circle, Greenland, and Iceland
Jewels of the North

Polar Bears

Later, when the bears went ashore, we boarded the zodiac boats and went out to make additional observations. They seemed to enjoy frolicking in the morning sun as they ate large amounts of grass.

Monacobreen Glacier

As we moved further into Liefdefjorden, we approached the Monacobreen Glacier, named after Prince Albert I of Monaco. Prince Albert was an oceanographer who led several expeditions in the Svalbard region.

A Closer Look

We climbed into the zodiac and headed out to the foot of the glacier for a closer look. The ocean was filled with lots of bergy bits (pieces smaller than 15 feet that have broken off of the glacier) and growlers (an iceberg smaller than 6 feet with less than 3 feet showing above the water surface).

Bearded Seal

While navigating through the ice in our zodiac, we came upon a bearded seal floating on some ice. His coloring was beautiful and we were close enough to see the long whiskers that give this seal its name. We also noticed the squared off fore-flippers that are a characteristic feature. Bearded seals can live to be 25 years old and the songs of males can be heard up to 12 miles away.

Beautiful Birds

The melt water that comes from a glacier is rich with nutrients and provides a wonderful place for birds to feed. It was no surprise, then, that we saw so many different kinds of birds. We saw arctic skua, black legged kittiwakes, glaucous gulls, and black guillmot. We saw birds on the ice and in the water, but the sky near the edge of the glacier was teeming with birds. This is one time we were glad that the zodiac did not pull up to the edge of the glacier for a closer look.

Outstanding Views

It is difficult to tell from the photos, but the glacier is huge. (about 3 miles wide) The zodiac boats were tiny by comparison. Once out in the ocean, no matter which direction we looked, the views were breathtaking.

Back to the Ship

Totally exhilarated and chilled to the bone, it was time to head back to Le Boreal. Hot chocolate, diet coke and some warm, dry clothes did the trick and soon we were ready to continue our adventure.

Pack Ice

Today we sailed through a region that had some pack ice. The views were amazing and we would occasionally see some seals floating along on the ice.

Pack ice is very different from the icebergs we had seen near the glaciers. Glaciers form on land from heavily compacted snow. Since icebergs are simply chunks that have calved off of glaciers, they are made from fresh water. Pack ice is frozen sea water. It tends to be flatter than icebergs, but not as flat as a frozen lake because of the constant turbulence of the ocean water.

Seal Sightings

The different sizes and shapes of the pack ice floes kept the view changing, but one constant was that it always created a beautiful and somewhat otherworldly landscape. We were able to spot quite a few seals on the ice. We could definitely tell that they were solitary creatures.

Splash Down

One seal decided that it was the perfect time to take a swim.