Cruising the Hinlopen Strait

Added 02 Sep 2012

This morning sees us cruising through the Hinlopen Straight and our first landing at Kinnvika. Sweden and Finland established a large research facility here in 1957. This was to carry out observations in various fields of geophysics such as Meteorology, the Northern Lights, and the Earth's Magnetism.

At Kinnvika the long hikers go ashore followed by those of us who wish to look around the site at leisure. We are allowed in one or two of the buildings and find it interesting to see how the scientists lived in such a remote and unforgiving part of the world.

This afternoon, we're treated to an interesting lecture by Polish born Tomas Zadrozny about polar bears. About 10 minutes before he finishes we arrive at Alkefjellet, a 100 metre high cliff and home to breeding birds such as Guillemots, Auks and Puffins. Sadly most of the birds have started their migration but a few are spotted and the cliffs themselves are very impressive. Guests run off to see the cliff and poor Tomas has to regroup and conclude his lecture in due course. He does well.

Still in the Hinlopen Straight our next landing is at Torellneset. The highlight of this landing is a colony of walrus (or is it walruses?). What is a group of walruses called? A herd or pod, apparently. We're able to get about 30 feet from a large group or approximately 50 to 70 animals. As some of the Polarcirkel boats arrive at the beach, a group of 6 walrus are swimming close to the shoreline and seem to be very curious to see this new species of blue (jacketed) tourist. Some others including a young pup are in the sea close by, and it's great just watching their behaviour when we are so close.

This evening we are treated to an ice carving show in the FRAM's lounge by our Philippine crew. One of the chef team carves birds and animals from vegetables, and another decorates a cake with sugar icing flowers. A third crew member carves two large blocks of ice into a fish - although this takes some imagination until you get up close. However, it's a whole lot better than Richard could do, even if he knew where the kitchen was.
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