To Eastern Svalbard - Cruise Day 3
On cruise day 3, we continued south to Russebukta located on the southwest coast of Edgeoya. This area is a boggy tundra where we embarked on a 2 hour hike encountering more Svalbard reindeer, the king eider, and barnacle geese. We also saw an arctic fox that may have been sleeping, very deeply sleeping…but it was more likely dead, sadly. Boggy is a good description for the tundra here. Patches of dark bray/brown appeared solid but squishing down on them with the waterproof boot was downright spongy.
When we left on the zodiacs instead of returning back to the ship, we make a fantastic detour to a huddle of walruses. You could smell them way before you could see them! Many were sunbathing nestled snugly together. A few active walruses did manage to put on a little show in the water. Very amazing to watch them surface with 2 long tusks! As you might recall from our Alaska article, our only previous walrus encounter was when on a “unofficial” tour with a local guide in Barrow, Alaska who showed us a dead walrus head his buddy had in the snow to make a future soup. No joke.
For the afternoon, we cruised north to Freemansundet, the sound between Barentsoya and Edgeoya. The eastern portion was blocked by ice so we had to turn around when we encountered a large ice mass. We did test a bit of our ship’s ice strength through some freer flowing ice. We were hopeful to see polar bears here as they frequent the shores. We did manage to see a few polar bear tracks across some snow covered ice, but no luck on the bears. Still hopeful!