Pulling back the curtains early this morning revealed a world of grey outside the ship’s windows. It was going to be a tough morning for wildlife spotting as a thick fog blanketed National Geographic Endurance. Reduced visibility also meant that we could not travel quickly through the ice, and so slowly and carefully we chose our path and continued northward, hoping for a break in the weather. It was a great morning for visiting the hot tub, the sauna, or to relax with a delicious beverage and listen to an engaging presentation in our Ice Lounge. Presentations this week seem to invite wildlife sightings and sure enough, we were soon interrupted by a fantastic sighting of a walrus up ahead.
The weather was kind to us, and we had clear views, albeit with cold temperatures, by the time we got to Alkefjellet (translates to Auk Mountain). Here we dropped our Zodiacs and cruised spectacular dolerite cliffs, where thousands upon thousands of Brünichs guillemots choose to nest on precarious little ledges all over the sheer cliff faces. Nesting “shoulder to shoulder” and plumed in contrasting black and white, these birds impress with their sheer tenacity to reproduce in such an inhospitable landscape, for these cliffs are patrolled by predators looking for an easy meal. Sure enough, Arctic foxes were spotted at the base of the cliff, scavenging any dropped eggs, or injured birds.
The cold of the afternoon Zodiac cruise was kept at bay by a delightful surprise delivery. Sure enough, out in the wind and waves, our hospitality team appeared with warm and creamy hot chocolate! (Plus the option of a few extra ingredients if you were so inclined.)
A wonderful day was capped off with additional excitement, just as we were slipping away into slumber. Around 11:30 pm, our captain’s voice excitedly came over the ships speakers informing us of a polar bear spotted ahead: a beautiful end to an awe-inspiring day.