Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The answers to your questions

Steve Johnston has certainly been busy. Although I only expected him to answer a sample of the questions, he has not only answered ALL the questions, but has attached some wonderful images to all the answers. It will take me some time to print them out, but you will hopefully get them for your next lesson. For those who do get a reply, I think it would be good manners for you to thank Mr. Johnston for his time, and for providing a personal illustrated reply to you all...

Please do that by adding a thankyou as a comment on the blog posting where they appear. You need to click where it says Comments at the bottom, and add your comment then fill in the word verification box.
Here is a sample set of answers: they are the answers for Aaron's questions.


How long was the journey to Svalbard ?

From Scotland the journey involves flying from Aberdeen to Stavanger in Norway, and then another flight from there to Oslo. We then had an overnight stay in Oslo before flying to Longyearbyen in Spitsbergen. The first flight is just over an hour, the second just under an hour, and the final one is about three hours depending on whether the flight stops en route or not.

What makes it longer is the time spent waiting in airports and, given the restrictions on schedules, the whole journey takes about a day and a half!

Did you see the Northern Lights ?

No! You only see them in the winter months when the sky is dark. In the summer at these high latitudes there is daylight for 24 hours a day. The picture below was taken about 11.30pm, and you can see blue sky and how high the sun is.

(What a great picture and one of many to come...)

What kind of unexpected wildlife did you see ?

We weren’t really sure what we would see. We expected to see some different types of seabirds and hoped that we might see whales and, of course, polar bears. We did see long-tailed skuas, little auks and ivory gulls, all of which aren’t seen in the UK. We didn’t see many whales except a few Minke (and 1 dead beluga), but we did see walrus up close, bearded seals, reindeer and arctic foxes and lots of polar bears. The polar bears take the prize! Our captain ran the ship onto the ice flow and it was very exciting when two families of bears came to investigate. They have a terrific sense of smell and they’re always on the lookout for something to eat. Their main diet is made up of seals, but basically they’ll eat anything that moves! For this reason, whenever we went ashore, our guides carried rifles for our protection, (luckily not needed!).

See photos below :

Click for a bigger version of the photos - they really are very special...
ALL the questions, answers and images will be added, but they will trickle in over the next week or so...

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