www.naturetrek.co.uk As ice levels recede annually, the impact on wildlife has entered uncharted territory. The sea ice hunting ground of Polar Bears takes longer to form and lasts for fewer weeks and migratory transits of avian species are altering as their food sources are diverted by changing ocean currents. All these effects are distant rumbles for those of us inhabiting major population centres but for the Earth, the changes are huge with as yet, unforeseen consequences. Naturetrek offer a 12-day expedition to the High Arctic including a 10-day voyage circumnavigating Spitsbergen, observing at first hand, the effects of climate change. Naturetrek’s exclusive charter of MV Professor Molchanov searching out breeding seabirds, Polar Bears and Walrus, in the company of expert naturalist guides, departs London 15th and 16th July 2008.
After an overnight stay in Oslo, there is a transfer by air to Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen’s capital, MV Professor Molchanov awaits. A clockwise course is intended, north out of Isfjorden, round the island of Moffen, through the Hinlopen Strait that separates Spitsbergen and the ice-covered Nordaustlandet (north Island) then south around Barentsøya and Edgeøoya before returning north to Longyearbyen. There are glass-like fjords backed by huge glaciers, such as Monaco and Hamilton Glaciers, and polar deserts, where only a few lichens and other low-lying plants exist in an almost waterless environment. Forays are made deep into the pack-ice, the summer haunt of the true king of the Arctic, the magnificent Polar Bear. Here, are huge Walrus basking on the ice alongside Bearded, Ringed and Harp Seals with opportunistic Arctic Foxes on patrol Out on the tundra, Brent, Pink-footed and Barnacle Geese breed alongside King Eider, Grey Phalarope, Red-throated Diver, Long-tailed Duck, Purple Sandpiper, Arctic and Long-tailed Skuas and Ptarmigan, can be seen. During landings at Smeerenburg (Blubber Town) and Danskoya there is a visit to the remains of 17th century whaling stations and polar exploration camps of past adventurers, such as that of Swedish balloonist Andree. Once back at Longyearbyen, a spectacular flight over huge glaciers, braided river valleys and snow-capped peaks brings guests back to mainland Norway and homeward flights.