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Outdoor museum at Virgohamna and our first Polar Bear!

Drone photo of a polar bear in the snow

16th July 2023

Yesterday we had planned a (for us) early start. The alarm went off at 9.30 am but we were not so much in a hurry that we couldn’t sit and enjoy a coffee and breakfast. So why were we in a hurry?

We really wanted to get to shore to see the remains of André’s ballon and Wellmans Zeppelin launches that are left on the beach. You have to have a permit to go a shore and when you do, you have to follow a footpath so you don’t break the remains.

These remains are placed on the North side of Danskøya (Danish Island) and the name is very suitable as it seems flatter than many of the other islands.

For this reason Sarah commented that the polar bears might not be so interested to be here, though this was just an idea she had rather than having it based on any real polar bear knowledge.

While making a pot of tea (and forgetting to make Steve a coffee which he gave her a real hard time about) Steve said “I see a bear!”.

Steve was securing the place by checking with binoculars and saw a white spot of snow that seemed to be moving. When keeping an eye on it we could see it turning around having a little bear nap on the other side of the fjord about a kilometre from us. After half an hour it started to move and then it got really exciting as we really were able to see it. It was walking away from us up a hill, so Steve quickly got his drone out and flew it towards the bear to get some photographs of it. Though he has a lot of large lenses to his camera, it is not able to make too sharp shots from that distance from a moving boat. 

He ended up getting some really cute pictures of it rolling in the snow and looking interested at the drone.

When we were sure it was staying in that area, we decided to go to see the remains. It was a wet ride in the dinghy as there was quite a few waves.

There are quite a lot of rusty kegs, ceramic pipes and iron filings and the like on the site, which seems a little weird to leave lying around, but there are also a collapsed hangar with stone piles with hooks for holding the huge balloon. The last bit is quite interesting to see as you really can imagine how weird it must be to get all the stuff to such a remote area. While walking at the beach we could easily keep and eye on the polar bear in our binoculars, but it was good we had practiced how to use the flash bangs the day before. 

Sarah drily commented, that maybe we have misunderstood the polar scaring technique, and that it may have heard liked the noise we were making the night before and come to it.

After a very wet dinghy ride back to the boat we decided to celebrate the bear watching with banana cake (and later some G&T’s too), while moving on to the next fjord. Now we would just like to see a blue whale, a few beluga whales and maybe couple of polar bears (preferably with cubs)a little closer to the boat.

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