Svalbard: Poolepynten – Walruses
Next stop – a sandbank beach at the Poolepynten on the outer island of Prins Karls Forland or Forlandet. It’s the easternmost island of the Svalbard archipelago and the most exposed to the Atlantic winds and pounding waves – desolate and exposed. But it’s the perfect place for walruses to haul out. A group of about 15 of them just lounges on the Sandy beach at the tip of a sand spit, occasionally turning, showing flippers and lifting heads with giant tusks. Walruses are truly massive, at 2000 kg/4400 lb, quite immobile on land but good swimmers in the water. They were hunted for blubber and got to near extinction, with populations now slowly recovering. Still, the Atlantic walrus is quite rare and groups are relatively small compared with massive haul-outs in the Pacific.