FRANZ JOSEF LAND - CAPE FLORA
We arrived in a total fog which, thankfully, lifted so we could see a huge walrus haul-out. Nikita told us it was a maternal group, hundreds of mothers and their cubs. We also saw Ivory Gulls here. They are one of the iconic birds of the Arctic.
Cape Flora, located in an unglacierized area in the Southwest of Northbrook Island (79°57′N 50°05′E) camp is historically significant. Norwegian explorer, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Fridtjof Nansen (10/10/1861 – 13 May 1930) led an expedition aboard the FRAM (1893–1896) attempting to reach the geographical North Pole, reaching 86˚14’N before having to turn back with the ship’s stoker, Fredrik Johansen (15/5/1867 – 3/1/1913). On 17 June 1896, during a stop for repairs after the kayaks had been attacked by a walrus, Nansen thought he heard a dog barking as well as human voices. He went to investigate, and a few minutes later saw the figure of a man approaching. It was the British explorer Frederick Jackson, who was leading an expedition to Franz Josef Land and was camped at Cape Flora on nearby Northbrook Island. The two were equally astonished by their encounter; after some awkward hesitation Jackson asked: "You are Nansen, aren't you?", and received the reply "Yes, I am Nansen." Their lives saved, after regaining strength, they headed back to Norway, and were reunited with the comrades on the Fram which had also survived.
While there, we viewed a huge walrus haul-out.... Nikita said it was a maternal group, hundreds of mothers and their cubs, at first totally hidden by fog but it lifted and we had amazing views. Also iconic North Pole Ivory Gulls.