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Birds And Animals At 70° North

Reindeer are a part of the fauna up here, as several deers live on the different islands.
Sometimes they are mooved from the mainland to an island, or the other way around,
to allow them finding enough food at different times of the year.

By the sea-side you can often observe the Otter coming out, and some times
when fishing from the shore, it pops up right ahead of you out in the sea...
Once overnight in a tent, they made so much noise that sleeping was impossible.

(This picture is captured as an illustration from http://www.bigwig.net/otters/
where you will find another 40 pictures of otters...)
(Not valid as per Sept .2010)

Seagulls are dominating, and no wonder. They don't need fancy nests and
don't ask for what is not available, but take what they can get.
(The eggs are used as illustration, the youn gsters had left when we found this nest.)
more here

Lundefugler, latin name: fratercula arctica
Read a short description in norwegian, by Winjar, 7th grade, Longyearbyen School, Svalbard

Lundefugler - or puffins, you meet them every time you go out by boat.
They pop up all around youand they disappear again just as fast as they show up.

Grågås - latin: anser anser
From Frode Algrøy's great birding-page

One evening we suddenly heard a strange sound, and there were 200 seagulls
flying over us, heading for the open sea. But then - the last ones were much
bigger in size, and their were longer, too. Strange seagulls....
But we soon realized that the seagulls were followed by 70 geese.
Why? Well, we also have white-tailed sea eagles around here....
and such a one was in for a night-meal right there.

Fugløy - Bird Island - what does it have to offer?

Photo from BBC Wild Facts - White-tailed sea eagle

Nord-Fugløy (North Bird-island) is a steep cliff-island way out towards the Arctic ocean.
Back in 1660 it became private property, after having belonged to the danish crown.

It is here we find one of the largest populations of the White-tailed Sea Eagle, but also lots
of lundefugleri/puffins/fratercula arctica and ærfugl/eider/somateria mollissima. Because of
this special situation, it is no wonder taht BBC in 1996 did some very good shots of eagles
here. The island is situtated close to the fishery-fields, and because of that, there was a small population there up to the 1950's.

A fishing-industry was going on for more than 50 years, and they even had their own public school, and from 1900 a regular ferry-connection to the other islands, and even their own post-office from 1911. In the middle of the 1930's they got telephone by means of radio-relay. That one was closed down by the enemy during WW2, as they said 'it could be misused...'.

As many as 100 persons could live out here at the most, and another 100 visiting fishermen
during the seasons. Not much protection against the ocean, and boats were landed right on
the beach with man and haul. When the weather was worse than normal, the fishing-crew
had to put the fish on hooks, and hanging behind the boat when it landed - to catch the fish
again, so to say, when ashore.

From time to time stormy weather could last for days even weeks, and they had no
connection with anywhere else, so they had to be prepared relating to food etc. Therefore, agriculture was an important part of their living. Also picking up cloudberries and eggs from
the many birdnests were an important part of their food.

It is claimed that more than 100 lives are lost on the island when collecting eggs. However,
this number is not comfirmed. Anyway, many young men has lost their lives during the past centuries.

Photo from BBC Wild Facts - White-tailed sea eagle

After WW2 ended, the fishery-industry could no longer compete with those on the mainland -
and with the larger motorized vessels, so in 1951 the post-office was closed, and soon
thereafter the last inhabitant left the island for good.

In 1923 a man and his wife moved to 'Bird-island', which she had received as a weddinggift -
or her marriage portion. He had been sailing all over the world for several years, and spoke
many languages fluently, i.e. spanish and english. (which I don't...).
She also were well-educated and spoke more foreign languages, and in addition she played
the piano and was also a painter.

It sounds like a fairy-tale that those two well-educated people (at least at that time), and whom had seen most of the world, could settle down and be satisfied on this tiny little island, where the ocean did its utmost to break everything down in its fury.

Indre Gamvik , sommeren 1996
Remaining buildings in Indre Gamvik, summer 1996

Whether you like it or not, you just have to tie it to the ground,
to have a place to sleep when you come back next time...
(From: NORGE, Geografisk Leksikon, bind III. J.W.Cappelen 1963)

A few buildings are still to be found there, tethered to the ground by heavy chains to keep the houses where they should be.....

Fish, whales, dolphins etc....
coming up

Lastly, a few pictures just for your pleasure. click here:
 More birds from this island
 Pictures and info on fish in this area - (norwegian)
 Foto galleri - Vannøy (swedish)


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