Arctic Day 1 – Hornsund, Svalbard

Morning humpback whales

Our first day out in the arctic started with a very early wake up call.  Humpback whales just in front of the ship the expedition leader said over the ship wide intercom.  Having laid out all my photo gear the night before in preparation of getting the call at any moment I was ready to jump on a moments notice.  The call came and I was the first (other than the crew) out on the bow of the ship with my camera in hand taking pictures of the magnificant humpback whales.

Humpback whale in the arctic

The excitement wasn’t nearly over that day.  Shortly after our first whale sighting we had our first polar bear far off in the distance.

Polar bear through a spotting scope

One of the ways to get good polar bear pictures if you don’t have a mega zoom lens is put a small point and shoot up to one of the many spotting scopes around the ship.  Miki was able to get some pretty nice shots using this technique.  It’s sure a lot cheaper and more convenient than buying a 500mm lens.  But it still doesn’t have the quality that a good slr/lens combo can have… or at least that is what I tell myself to justify all this gear :)

Polar Bear on pack ice

The reason the bears are out on the ice this time of year is because that is where there food is.  This seal was a couple hundred yards away from the resting polar bear.  The seal also seemed to be trying to take a nap but always had one eye trained on the bear… just in case.

Seal trying to rest on polar bear infested pack ice

After our whale and polar bear sightings we arrived at our destination for the morning, Gnålodden.  It’s a rocky landing with a vertical wall covered with what seems like thousands of chattering geese.  The geese weren’t the main attraction of this landing though.  An arctic fox shuttling it’s pups from one den to another right in front of us was the photographic highlight of the day.  This was a very rare sight and to see it up close was a treat.  We were confused what the fox was carrying at first.  Looking at the back of the LCD screen it looked like the fox was carrying a teddy bear.

Arctic fox carrying its pup

Arctic fox carrying its kill

In between photographing the amazing arctic fox sighting I took the time look around.  It’s important not to get tunnel vision on focus on only one subject.  The best shot could be behind you.

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