Arctic Wildlife and Landscapes

Becky Ramage

29 Sep 2017

Witnessing Whales, bears and seals in Svalbard

Through Gemma of Natural World Safaris, I spent 10 days and 10 nights in the Arctic in the ‘land of the midnight sun’, viewing wildlife and majestic landscapes from the M/S Malmo and from zodiac boats. 

This phenomenally beautiful and exquisite experience has left a lasting impression on me.

Polar bears were close to our ship, minke whales frolicked near our ship, and a blue whale with her young calf swam from one side of the ship to the other for around an hour.

I was able to see the mother blue whale and her calf because I was sitting in the captain’s area, which he had told everyone they could sit in at any time of night or day  (because we were in the land of the midnight sun, it was sunny 24 hours every day). He told me that he had seen a huge female blue whale swimming with her calf, so I was looking for what the captain had described. 

At that moment the whale appeared and I, and the captain, both said “Thar she blows!" 

We were the only people in the captain’s area at that moment, and we said the same thing out loud simultaneously. It was the perfect moment! The captain was extremely happy and jolly! 

The female blue whale and her calf swam alongside the ship for about an hour, always staying close together. Numerous times the mother blew water, and then the calf followed suit - unfortunately I was never able to take a picture of the calf blowing water! I know that it would have been spectacular to have one picture of the two of them blowing water together, but I was never able to do that because of their timing. The problem with viewing and taking pictures from the deck of the ship is that it can be very wet and slippery, and dangerous to run from one side of the deck to the other due to all of the ropes, metal, and other rigging bolted to the deck, which would be easy to trip over when moving too quickly.

I advise everyone to sit in the captain’s area whenever possible because you have the best view of the whales and arctic landscape, best chance of spotting other ships, like the Stockholm, and because you get to experience what the captain has to navigate around and through in order to keep the ship safe from an ever-changing land of ice. Sometimes it appeared that the ship was blocked in on all sides by huge ice walls, but then all of a sudden water would appear and the captain, who knew where everything was before I did, navigated the ship safely through the waters. It was magnificent for me to experience the magnitude of the Arctic landscape, and the whales swimming and frolicking in the ocean without fear of our ship or the people on board.

Whilst we trekked on various islands, we saw reindeer, walruses, foxes, bearded seals, and abundant flora.

Because it was sunny 24 hours a day, some of us didn’t want to sleep in order to not miss seeing any of the whales or polar bears which might appear close to our ship. The chef prepared wonderful meals, and the crew catered to our every request. The captain chose a perfect time for all of us who wanted to take the ‘Polar Plunge’ from the ship, and we could stay in the ocean as long as we wanted. I loved the Polar Plunge and would have enjoyed swimming in the icy waters for five minutes! The crew of the M/S Malmo treated all of us like royalty and our safety was their utmost concern.

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Comments

lejin

9/10/2017 2:09 PM

Hi I like this Blog

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