A Saturday “mørketid” promenade

Since Tuesday, 28 November the sun does not rise above the horizon anymore in Tromsø. In English this time is called Polar Night, in German Polarnacht.But is it night 24 hours a day? No, not really. Here are some images I took on a promenade in Tromsø yesterday. The photos have been shot between 10:48 and 12:13 CET.

As you see it was not dark at all.  The Norwegians differentiate better and have two words. What we have in Tromsø now they call Mørketid – “darkness time”. The sun is below the horizon the whole day, but less than 6° (civil twilight). Only when the sun is below 6° all day the Norwegians call it polarnatt – “polar night” as well. This however never happens on mainland Europe. You would have to travel north to the island Bjørnøya or the archipelago Svalbard to experience that.

So yes, we have seven weeks of mørketid in Tromsø, but that does not mean seven weeks of darkness. Fortunately!

 

An otter at the Telegrafbukta

When I took a promenade along the sea at the bay Telegrafbukta nearby I saw a family watching something. It was an otter. It was swimming along the shore while two crows were complaining loudly. I took a snapshot with my small Sony camera just to get a picture.

The otter continued swimming near to the shore until it came to the small breakwater south from the sandy beach of Telegrafbukta. There it went on land. I followed.

From there it was swimming out for food and coming back with some crustacean as prey. It went on land again where I could watch and hear it crushing and eating the prey. It was below me, hardly more than two metres away. Never before I had spotted an otter so near for so long. I’m sure it saw me and the other two people standing nearby but it appeared pretty fearless.

It swam for a short other round and again came back. This time I had configured my litte camera a bit better to take sharper photos and the otter was so nice to stand still for a while. Click!

The otter however had no interest in extending this photo session. It jumped into the cold sea water again and continued its hunt. Soon it vanished behind a small rocky promontory.

When it was out of view I continued my short promenade. Thanks for showing up, otter. It was a pleasure meeting you.

The last sun in Tromsø 2023?

Today I saw it twice. The sun. An orange orb hanging low above the horizon that seems to wander from mountain gap to mountain gap.

Tomorrow it will be invisible due to grey and stormy weather (wind gusts 20 m/s). And soon it will be gone for this year, at least in Tromsø.

It is incredible how much I value every single minute of sunshine before the weeks of polar night. The last days I even tried to find a place in the cafeteria where I could look right into it. And today I went out to take the photo above.

On the other way – there are other light phenomenons that I like too. Polar light for example. I just managed to take a slightly shaky photo, before it faded away. And the season has just begun.

 

A short November promenade

This weekend I planned to be lazy and so I was but since the weather was so beautiful today that I decided to take a walk by the coast. There are only two other weekends with a chance to see the sun in Tromsø, then polar night begins.

Some today’s snapshots:

 

Snowy mountains in the blue hour

I’m lucky. The place where I shot this photo in yesterday mornings blue hour is less than 500 metres away. The snow here by the coast has melted away but as you can see the mountains are white now and probably will stay like this for many months.

The last Thursday kayaking 2023

No, I haven’t joined many of “torsdagspadlinger” organised by the Tromsø sea kayak association this year. But at least the first one on the 4th of May and the last one this evening.

We were a group of ten heading to the island Grindøya in the west. When I arrived at the boat houses round half past five the sun was already disappearing behind the mountains of Kvaløya. Half an hour later we were on the water. The weather was quite warm and it was very calm –perfect conditions for a relaxed tour.

We headed to a sea mark – resting place for a small flock of cormorants. They flew away, when we gathered there.

While we were continuing to the northern tip of the island it was becoming dusky. We all had lights at our kayaks or our lifejackets. Less to see but to be seen.

After we passed the northern tip of Grindøya we turned left (meaning south) and calmly paddled along the forested island.

When we arrived at the beach at the southern tip it already had become pretty dark. The lights of the mainland illuminated the horizon. The single light at the left top corner of the next photo is the mountain station of the cable car Fjellheisen.

On the way back it was really dark. We paddled in pairs to ensure that no one was left behind and it was too dark to take snapshots. Just before we arrived at the boat houses again I took the iPhone out of its waterproof bag and took a photo. With a bit of help from Lightroom it’s surprisingly sharp.

It’s a pity that this was the last torsdagspadling but understandable, because it gets darker and darker every week. And if the weather forecast is correct it may snow next week.

Takk for turen – thanks for the tour, especially to the tour guides. See you next year.

Thursday paddling around Grindøya

Two weeks ago we were only five paddlers at the traditional Thursday paddling. Today we were almost thirty. While most followed the coast to the bay Telegrafbukta I joined a group of seven that paddled to Grindøya. The conditions were gorgeous. No wind, hardly any waves and beautiful light. We took a break on the island with a special bonus: Two eagles sitting on a dead tree. There were too far away for taking good pictures but beautiful to observe anyhow. On one of the photos you can spot them as tiny specks.

Takk for turen – thanks for a great tour, my fellow kayakers. Now I’ll leave Tromsø for a while until I’ll be back for more tours to come.

 

Back to Thursday paddling

Today I just did my second kayak tour in Tromsø this year. The first one was on 4 May and it snowed. Then the weather was bad and I hardly had time. Then I was on an Arctic cruise, then home in Sweden and then it was holiday period. Today was the first “Thursday paddling” with the Tromsø Sea Kayakers Club after summer and I was happy to join.

Together with four other kayakers we paddled to the island Håkøya where we took a short leg stretcher. Then we paddled a bit along and back. I didn’t make many photos. The others were fast and on the way to Håkøya it was quite wavy. So I was challenged and even a bit stressed, but in a positive way. Now I’m looking forward to the next time. Takk for turen, fellow paddlers! Thanks for taking care of me.

Travelling from ice to summer

This article is part of the series “2023-06: Arctic Ocean cruise KPH”.

This photo was taken three days ago:

These photos were taken three hours ago:

Quite a contrast, isn’t it?

18 June (four days ago)

I stand on the sea ice for the last time as part of the polar research expedition with the ice breaker Kronprins Haakon. It has become quite foggy and we will close the ice station earlier due to bad visibility. If you cannot spot the polar bears it is not safe and we had quite a few of them the last two weeks.

19 June (three days ago)

Today we stop the ship several times for the usual CTD casts to get the salinity and temperature of the sea water in different depths. For science it is always interesting to get comparable measurements. One way is to do a transect, a series of the same type of measurements in different locations, mostly in a line. Today we do CTD casts at 2° W, 1° W, 0°, 1° E, and 2 °E. So today we have crossed the Prime Meridian.

For doing CTD casts the ship must stand still. At 1° E I use this to fly my private drone from the helicopter deck for the first picture above. (Memo to myself: do not fly a drone in fog, it is hard to land.)

20 June (two days ago)

After four days of fog it finally clears up in the evening. And for the first time in 18 days we can see land again, the long and narrow island Prins Karls Forland.

We can get a lot of information about what’s going on on the TV. On channel 9 there is OLEX, a navigation system. I see, that Helmer Hanssen, another research vessel owned by the University of Tromsø is nearby. The ships are getting closer and closer and I go up to the helicopter deck to take some photos. There’s a reason for the ships to meet. Malin, a researcher in the field of arctic and marine biology is transferred from our ship to Helmer Hanssen by boat. She will join another cruise.

21 June (yesterday)

In the morning we have approached Adventfjorden, where the main city Longyearbyen is located. Due to the touristic cruise ships occupying all dock places we will stop in the open water. From there we are transferred to land by boat as well. I’m in the first boat because I want to meet people in Longyearbyen at Forskningsparken. There UNIS, the university of Svalbard is located and a department of the Norwegian Polar Institute, too.

We get a car transport there and I meet Vegard, that helped me with drone flying and Luke, that I have worked with quite a bit. Luke and I have even time to get some outdoor lunch in the summery town. It’s sunny and more than 10 °C. (Too warm for me.) He mentions that it got quite green in Longyearbyen. And I spot the first flowers.

At the airport there are long queues everywhere. It is not build for large groups of slightly disorientated tourists. But we arrived early. Shortly after half past two we lift off. I glue myself to the window to see the fjords, the mountain chains and the glaciers of Svalbard passing by.

Amidst between Svalbard and Tromsø I manage to spot the arctic island Bjørnøya in the haze. For the first time in my life! The photo is heavily processed to make Bjørnøya visible.

And then we land in Tromsø where the vegetation just has exploded in my three weeks of absence. Everything is green and there are flowers everywhere. I am lucky and get a lift home. (Thank you, Tore!)

22 June (today)

I drop by in the office to meet my colleagues. Good to see them in real life. We talk about the cruise and many other things. But after work I take a bath in the sea. So refreshing when it is summer and 25 °C! That’s more than twenty degrees warmer than four days ago when I navigated my small drone to take a photo of Kronprins Haakon in the sea ice somewhere between Greenland and Svalbard.

23 June (tomorrow)

Tromsø is my work home, but Obbola in Sweden is my home home. Tomorrow I will travel there. If everything goes well it “only” takes 18 hours. And then I finally will be united with my wife Annika again in our cosy house by the Baltic Sea.

Snowy intermezzo

Last week it felt like spring is finally coming. Flowers were blooming in the forest, the snow had melted away rapidly and even the birch trees finally had become green.

Since then it had been raining a lot. Yesterday it got quite cold and the rain turned into wet snow.

There were snow showers the whole night and this morning, too with temperatures round 0–1 °C. Is this what spring looks like? And we’re talking about the end of May.

Alas it was only a short intermezzo and while the mountains still look whiter than before snow has melted away throughout the day.