Spitsbergen and at sea 10/08/14
Have been heading steadily north since we left yesterday's glacier excursion, sailing up the west coast of Spitsbergen and heading for some fjords at the top of the island at about 79,50N. Should be above 80N latitude by tomorrow or only about 600 miles from the North Pole.
After breakfast dressed warmly and loaded our zodiacs, temp about 3C and a chilly wind blowing. Drove through Liefdefjorden, a very large bay filled with ice floes and surrounded by ice covered mountains and large glaciers emptying into the sea which are calving icebergs into the bay. Hope to see one of the icebergs break off and land in the sea but don't want to be too close, water not conducive to leisurely swimming.
Some bearded seals on ice floes and many birds. We did not land and disembark but chugged around the bay and along the face of the glacier and weaved our way through the ice floes. Interesting and very good light but with the wind from our passage in the zodiac, very cold.
Ship sailed for another fjord while had lunch and a repeat performance of the morning. Cold, bright and a bay filled with glaciers and ice floes. We should be very grateful for our weather so far, as it has been very bright and while not clear blue skies there have only been broken, scattered clouds with great light on the mountains and the ice.
At dinner Virginia spotted two whales a couple of hundred metres off the side of the boat, the word spread and the captain maneuvered the ship to try and stay close to them. They were minkie whales, not one of the biggest species but wonderful to see them broaching and blowing huge plumes of water out of their blowholes. As an aside, minkie whale was on offer at one of our Oslo restaurants and while I am adventurous when it comes to trying new foods, I was not tempted. Independent of its culinary virtues, I have ethical concerns about killing and butchering whales for food. Yes, it is relatively easy to find inconsistencies in my position, and there are lots of arguments that can be made for the other side, don't care not going to do it.