Bear Island: Just like the Moon
Bear Island (or Bjørnøya in Norwegian) is a fascinating island in the Arctic that completely took my breath away… It was a place that altogether felt like another planet! It is the sort of place that makes you fall in love with our world all over again, because it its purity, since it has remained practically untouched by humans since its discovery.
Bjørnøya is the southernmost island of remote Svalbard Archipelago in the Arctic Archipelago. Click here for a map. The island was named Bear Island by the Dutch explorers in late 16th century, because they spotted a polar bear swimming close to the island. Unfortunately, there are no more polar bears remaining this far south due to global warming; regardless Bjørnøya will stay permanently imprinted in my mind.
This tiny uninhabited island, apart from the permanently staffed Norwegian weather station (there was only one staff member at the time we visited), mesmerised me with its barren, raw beauty: massive waves crashing into the jagged monumental rocks along the coast; expanses of rolling rocky hills covered with sparse Arctic vegetation; small tranquil lakes only visible if you climb the hills leading inland; massive bird colonies of along the high-rising cliffs facing the sea. Visiting this island is a big lottery due to rough weather throughout the year: more or less permanent blanket of thick, impenetrable fog; strong, gusty winds that can knock you of your feet; massive, rolling waves that make landing here often impossible. And I am so happy that we won this particular lottery!
I am not sure whether my pictures can do Bjørnøya’s beauty jutice…