This afternoon we arrived off the eastern shore of Prins Karls Foreland, a narrow island west of Spitsbergen.
This is a known walrus haul-out, and although we saw none onshore, during our long hike along the beach we had fantastic views of three animals cruising along the shore. Purple saxifrage was in full bloom on the tundra, and Arctic terns, Kittiwakes and skuas fluttered overhead.
As we prepared to rejoin the zodiacs, a single walrus, perhaps inquisitive but more likely just sleepy, nearly came ashore right where we were standing. The animal reared it’s huge bulk upright in the shallows, examining the strange creatures on shore, but then thought better of it, and slowly swam down the beach.
We entered Woodfjord this morning at 0600 and immediately sighted a group of upwards of 50 Beluga whales, an exceptionally large group for the Svalbard area. The animals were lazily moving south into the fjord, and after watching for a bit from the ship, launched Zodiacs for a fantastic encounter with these diminutive white whales.
Moving further into the fjord we took a walk on the tundra before another fantastic Zodiac tour along a massive glacier face. It obligingly calved some impressive chunks of ice as thousands of kittiwakes fed on the upwelling in front of the ice caves.