Saturday 4 September 2010

Svalbard Guiding

The first week of August, I was guiding a group of photographers for a ten-day trip on Svalbard. I like going with a small group size and small boats. This way you get a much more intimate experience with the Arctic landscape, harshness and of course most importantly also the wildlife. Even though we might be a bit more vulnerable to the weather and ice, we almost always find all the things we are looking for. I have now eight years of experience working as a fieldbiologist/guide on Svalbard.

Some of the highlights the last trip were Pomarine- and Long-tailed skuas, total of 4 Sabine’s gull (3 observations), 20 ivory gulls in front of a fantastic blue glacier, Polar bear killing an Arctic fox puppy and all possible seal species on Svalbard including Harbour-, Hooded and Harp seal. We missed out a bit on the cetaceans due to bad whale searching conditions, but we managed to photograph Belugas in front of blue ice and addtionally a large flock of about 70 animals in one of the west coast fjords. A jumping minke whale was quite spectacular to see and photograph as well. The highlight of the trip happened when we had belugas, sabine’s gulls, polar bear and a spectacular calfing blue glacier in the same view at the same time! All this and more together with stunning landscapes, means only one thing – happy clients!

Watching seven polar bears feeding on a whale carcass was a memorable experience for the whole group - including the guide
A polar bear is close to getting crushed under falling ice

Svalbard is one of few places in the world, where you can expect to see the increasingly rare ivory gull.
Glaciers are vital to the extreme biomass productivity in many of the fjords of Svalbard. Thousands of kittiwakes feeding on amphipods is an unforgettable nature spectacle.

Minke whale breaching! On the last trip, we had about 15 sightings of this spectacular whale.

Every trip is different from the last one, so time will show what we find next time.

At the moment I am attending a scientific expedition, and although we have seen a few ivory gulls and pomarine skuas, no big surprises have be seen yet. One of the first days in the drift ice west of Spitsbergen we came across about 40 Fin whales, one Blue whale. No less than five blue whales have been seen so far on the trip. A Polar bear on a seal kill was also seen, but photographing these things from a big ship is far from ideal….

The giant of the sea! The blue whale, the world's largest animal, is a regular sight in certain areas of Svalbard. Note the embarrasing small dorsal fin and blue grey colour compmared to the more or less equally sized fin whale seen in the next image.

A flock of fin whales in the drift ice on Svalbard.

I only do guiding on chartered boats, so if you want to use my services for a Svalbard expedition you will have to book early as both my own schedule and the boat charter is allready starting to fill up for the exciting year ahead.

If you want to see sights like this through your camera lens – then you should go wild with!



  1. Flotte bilder fra det som ser ut til å ha vært en fabelaktig tur! Tøft med alle de store hvalene, det var noe jeg drømte om å se der oppe men det ble bare med vågehval. Kanskje jeg hiver meg med på en tur med deg en gang, skal du ikke se bort ifra!

    mvh Espen

  2. Hei Eirik!

    Skal ikke se bort ifra at jeg vil opp igjen en tur! hadde det helt supert nå i august! Vi kan snakkes nærmere om det.


  3. Jeg er klar for tur når som helst - når man først har vært der en gang og fått med seg basisråvarene er det lettere å eksperimentere med motiv og områder ved senere besøk. Har mange plasser og gullkorn - Svalbard er enda ikke "gjort", selv for meg som akkurat nå er i ferd med å avslutte min åttende sommer her oppe :-)