Sailing Franz Josef Land: Exploring a frigid world of insubstantial whiteness

September, 2018

This place is ephemeral. Matter morphs fr om liquid to solid; melts, condenses, evaporates. The sea, usually liquid in motion hovers between states. It glitters in pale sun, turns crystalline, shatters like glass. Icebergs glow turquoise, bringing blues fr om sky to earth. The ocean cracks and fractures like white toffee.

And through it, through steel blue waves, thrust walrus like overweight swimmers breasting and dipping for the finish line. Tusks stab the sea. Walrus are red-eyed like a nightmare; bewhiskered and fat like a bedtime story.


franz josef land polar bears


When the ice-cold air turns liquid, envelopes the glaciers and hovers above the sea, 700 kg polar bears melt into the mist. Deadly, muscled carnivores pad the ice; silent phantoms. This is the Russian Arctic where marine mammals protect their young at all costs and where armed Russian rangers protect us (who are spectacularly not adapted to this environment), from them. Read more on www.stuff.co.nz

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