June 24 - Franz Josef Land

84-81.5 degrees N

We spend the day traveling through the Austrian Channel in Franz Josef Land. 

Franz Josef Land is the largest Archipelago in the Arctic, composed of 200 island. An Austrian Expedition led by Julius Payer aboard the Tegethoff originally sighted this Archipelago in 1873. Franz Josef Land was named after Franz Josef who was the emperor of the Austrian- Hungarian Empire at this time. It became a Russian territory in 1926 and was proclaimed a National Park in 2010.

  Franz Josef and our route through Franz Josef Land. 

Franz Josef and our route through Franz Josef Land. 

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Zodiac trips to Jackson Island on Cape Norway begin at 5:00am. Jackson Island is located in the northwestern part of Franz Josef Land at the beginning of the Austrian Channel. 

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  Jackson Island, Cape Norway

Jackson Island, Cape Norway

We reach Cape Norway and set out for Jackson Island on the zodiacs. Jackson Island is filled with beautiful colored moss and vegetation. It also has beautiful snow formations which might be great as an infrared photograph. 

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Another Polar Bear Sighting!!! A mom and her small cub coming towards the ship. Very cute. 

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Then a male bear appears and the mom and her cub leave. The male is also interested in our huge icebreaker. As he is looking at the boat at quite close range, he immediately turns and charges towards a seal that happens to be lying on the ice behind him. 

He runs as fast as he can, the seal sees him and dives into the water at exactly the same time as the bear. We expect the bear will come up to the surface with the seal but he emerges quite disappointed. For the next 30 minutes, the bear wanders, sniffs, and submerges his nose into the water in search of a seal. He finally walks away. 

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Traveling through the Austrian channel, we stop at Stolicska Island near Apollonova Island. This area is surrounded by glaciers and a popular place for resting Walruses. 

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Continuing through the Austrian Channel, we stopped at Wilczek Land where we flew over extraordinary glaciers and sea ice. 

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