The Arctic is very rich in birdlife. A regular species is the Northern fulmar (photo 1) gliding closely above surface of the water. Flocks of Brünnichs Guillemots (photo 2) are regularly passing by. Several species of gulls cana be seen.
The Ivory gull with its completely white plumage always is a welcome guest, but could not be photographed.
However, Giulia managed to take pictures of a Kittiwake cleverly seizing a fish from between the icefloes (photos 3 and 4). A small gull like that has to take care that its prey is not stolen by the big Glaucous Gulls (photo 5) around.
During the past week also some parasitic gulls (skua’s) were observed: they are the real experts in stealing prey from other bird species: Arctic Skua (photo 6) and Pomarine Skuas were seen around the ship. These large streamlined birds have different coloured feathers and a long tail which gives them an elegant appearance.
The North pole is also of course the home of the Polar Bear (Photo 7). The researchers have seen this beautiful animal a couple of times from the ship. One might expect that the Polar bear can hardly be seen in between all the ice. However, its fur is slightly yellowish which makes it stand out against the white. According to Polarsterns crew members we have not seen many Polar Bears compared to other Arctic expeditions. There are however a lot of Polar bear tracks visible in the snow. Seeing these tracks up close is a good reminder of how large these animals actually are.
The last week of the Arctic Transsiz expedition has started. The last work is being done after which the researchers can start packing. Summer has now really started. This is clearly visible in the sea ice. At the surface of the floes, melt ponds are appearing. They have a bright blue colour because of the ice underneath. The melt ponds reflect the melt of surface snow. In the Antarctic you will not find them because in general it is colder there. With the sunshine of the last few days, this view is fantastic last impression of our journey through the ice.