Svalbard – gateway to the Arctic

Text and photo by Roy Mangersnes When I first started thinking about Svalbard the only thing that went through my mind was the thought of missing the opportunity to see Polar bears in the wild. It was back in 2008 and people, at least some of us, where already seeing the changes happening to our planet as temperatures had started …

Where is Svalbard

WHERE IS SVALBARD   Svalbard is considered to be one of the highlights of the Arctic. This is largely due to the magnificent landscape that greets you. With peaks 1700 meters high, mighty glaciers, fjords and valleys, there are many who fall in love with this place. The permafrost and Arctic climate characterize the landscape, but because of the warm ...

Geology of Svalbard

GEOLOGY OF SVALBARD   Geological mapping of the Svalbard archipelago before 1900 showed deposits of coal, phosphorus, gold, zinc, lead, copper, gypsum and marble. These resources commanded good prices in Europe, and several companies began mining. Most of the enterprises were short- lived, and many lost big money. One of the most hazardous projects was the production of marble in ...

Plants of Svalbard

PLANTS OF SVALBARD   With the North Pole as its nearest neighbor it may be surprising to find fertile areas on Svalbard, with many beautiful flowers. Several of the mountain flowers from the mainland of Northern Europe can be found on Svalbard. Some of the plants of Svalbard that are the most characteristic to the archipelago are species like Svalbard ...

Whales of Svalbard

WHALES OF SVALBARD   Off the coast of Svalbard, it is not uncommon to see whales. Most often, they are belugas, or minke whales, but humpback whales and fin whales are also seen regularly around Svalbard. In the last few years the blue whale has also become more common. This is the largest mammal in the world! The bowhead whale ...

Seals of Svalbard

SEALS OF SVALBARD   The bearded seal is the largest of the Arctic seals. This seal is characterized by its moustache, rectangular body and relatively small head. Bearded seals are almost always seen resting on sea ice and rarely on shore. In areas free of hunters you can closely approach these seals when they are on the ice. Ringed seal, ...

Walrus

THE WALRUS   The walrus is one of the most spectacular marine mammals on Svalbard. From the 1600s, and for almost 350 years there was an intense hunt for walruses, especially because of the valuable tusks. The walrus was virtually eradicated from Svalbard in the early 1900s, but a few hundred survived on the east side. In 1952, it became ...

Arctic fox

THE ARCTIC FOX   Svalbard‚Äôs second largest predator on land is the Arctic fox. This curious little fox is highly adapted to a varying food supply. In summer it specialize in stealing bird eggs or chicks. In the winter it must endure long, cold days with little food, and sometimes encounters human settlements while in search of food. Today, there ...

Svalbard reindeer

THE SVALBARD REINDEER   Svalbard reindeer are significantly smaller than their relatives in Scandinavia, Russia, Canada and Alaska. They have shorter legs, more compact body, and are very well adapted to the extreme conditions of Svalbard. You will find reindeer mainly on Spitsbergen in the wide, long valleys that turn green in summer, but they do also venture into more ...

Snow bunting

SNOW BUNTING   The snow bunting is the most common passerine species in Svalbard. It is often found close to settlements but ts is also breeding among auks in the bird cliffs around Spitsbergen. Like many Arctic species it has a perfectly adapted plumage in white and black. For many people in Longyearbyen, the arrival of the snow bunting is ...