By Emma Källgren

This is my first visit to Svalbard (which is super exiting in itself) and so far I have spent less than one hour on solid ground before boarding R/V Helmer Hansen and the ARCEx cruise 2016. But today that was about to change. On May 20th, I and my fellow scientists had a little slack-time in the sampling schedule and we used the opportunity to visit the Polish research station in Hornsund.

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We suited up and the crew drove us onshore where we were met by the Polish scientists. The Polish crew managing the research station had lived there for the past 11 months and we were their third visit ship in two days. There had been more polar bear sightings then visitors, so they were very happy to show us around. Taking my first real steps in polar bear country I was breath taken by the wonderful nature surrounding the research station. The residential glacier was one of the features which majestically rushed into the ocean and the small ice bergs were drifting into the bay made the whole scenery surreal. When I pictured Svalbard from my office in Tromsø, I thought of snow covered mountains and ice, but I could never had imagined the sight that played out in front of me.

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After a tour inside the research station and greeting the husky puppies, that had been born this past winter we all set out for a country stroll. Less than 1 kilometer away, the Polish scientists had risen a wooden cross near water and this was our destination.

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After a few days on board R/V Helmer Hansen it was nice to stretch or legs and breath in fresh air. As we walked, several species of birds flew past and a few snow balls. Arriving at the monument I quickly realized that the wooden cross was probably put up there for the Polish scientists living on the station to have a place of prayer. The wooden carving placed there together with other religious ornaments made little hill very peaceful and spiritual.

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But all good things must come to an end and since the time were closing up to our next sampling station we had to get back to the ship. After this wonderful little excursion, everyone is back onboard R/V Helmer Hansen in great spirits and eager to continue our ARCEx cruise and experiments.