Arctic Day 6 – Holmfjord and Continental shelf drop off (the final day)

Arctic kayaking from the NatGeo Explorer

The NatGeo Explorer is equipped with inflatable kayaks which is always a highlight with the guests… ourselves included.  Kayaking in the Arctic in the shadow of the Holmiabukta glacier is what adventure travel is all about.  We travelled along the coast line looking for wildlife hoping to see a Polar Bear.  The crew scans the area for Polar Bears to make sure there are none around before letting the kayaks out because a Polar Bear could easily take out a kayaker in the water.

Kayaking in the arctic

Our Polar Bear hunt by kayak wasn’t successful but we did find out later that one was spotted by the crew in an area we had just been.  At first we were bummed because we wanted to get one last look at a Polar Bear but its probably for the best because Polar Bears can swim much faster than we can kayak.

Also played around again with some time lapse photography.  I put the camera up on our balcony as we went out for the day.  You can see the kayaks zipping in and out from the ship.  I just wish I could have caught a polar bear chasing a kayaking on video…

After our kayaking we got a chance to go for a quick polar plunge.  Miki and I did it in the Antarctic so we figured it best to round out by taking a swim near both poles.

Arctic swim

This was our last stop of the trip.  We now had to head all the way back to Longyearbyen to disembark the ship and fly back to Oslo.  But Svalbard had one more surprise in stock for us.  A sighting of the biggest animal on earth.  The BLUE WHALE.

Blue Whale

Blue Whales are rare to spot around here so it was an amazing sighting and we had two of them that spent a long time playing in front of our ship.  Some interesting blue whale facts.

  • Can eat 4-8 tons of krill per day
  • Up to 30 meters long
  • Tongue can weigh as much as an elephant
  • Babies can weigh up to 4 tons at birth
  • Babies gain 250 lbs per day
  • Penis can be 8 feet long

Blue Whale up close

It’s hard to comprehend the size of these animal in pictures but try to comprehend seeing an animal gracefully swimming along that is the size of a basketball court.  Check out a interactive comparison to other objects at National Geographic.

Blue Whale passing in front of the ship

These whales were very curious coming very close to our ship and in one very interesting pass, rolled over on its side to get a better look at us.  One of the Lindblad staff on the NatGeo Explorer has the nickname the “whale lady”.  She has spent her entire career studying whales.  She was on the ship wide intercom as this encounter was happening explaining what the whale was doing, giving us neat facts (see above), but when the whale rolled over on her side she was stumped.  She had never seen this behavior before.  You could hear the excitement in its voice as this was the first time she has seen this behaviour.  It’s always exciting when even the experts who study an animal every day of their life get excited about something they see.

Blue Whale rolling over

After this amazing encounter (a definite highlight of the trip) the whales said goodbye and we continued back to port.

Two bue whales at dusk

Lot’s of amazing animal encounters topped off by a visit from the earth’s biggest creature.  Not a bad way to end the trip at all…

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