Danskøya is an uninhabited island north-west of Spitsbergen. This place is famous for its extremely rich fauna – many species of birds and polar bears that can be seen in the vicinity throughout the year.
There are about 3,000 bears on Spitsbergen, they appear all over the island, but it is in this area that they are seen most often. For example – in 2017, it was here that the sea threw a dead whale ashore and to the delight of tourists bears were seen there very often.
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Polar Bears Walking on Spitsbergen
Modest Relics of the Past and Rich Fauna
In the north of the island there is the famous Virgohamna bay. It looks gray and uninteresting, but it is an important cultural monument. Here are the remains of a Dutch whaling station and whale blubber ovens. It was from this place in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century that Andrée and Wellman started their famous unsuccessful attempts to reach the north pole with a balloon. The name Virgohamna comes from Andrée's steamship - Virgo. The whole area is under protection, because there are remains of polar expeditions preparations everywhere: fragments of hangars, gasworks, wires, nails, boards, etc. To visit the area, a written permission from the Governor is required.
For the lovers of fauna Danskøya is primarily a place where you can meet polar bears throughout the year. Because they feed on seals, carrion and bird eggs, there are more of them in spring, when ice does not melt yet and it is easier to find food. In summer, bears mainly roam small islands in search of bird eggs. They often stick to glaciers' toes, because there are seals here.
In the Danskøya area, from Magdalenefjorden to Hamiltonbukta, a large number of bird species residing on the cliffs can be observed. In total, there are 16 colonies of northern fulmars and a dozen or so colonies of auks, guillemots, black guillemots and glaucous gulls. Two unique islands located just off Danskøya - Moseøya and Skorpa - have been completely turned into bird sanctuaries due to valuable specimens. From May 15 to August 15, getting to the islands at a distance of less than 300 m is strictly prohibited.
Polar foxes appear near the cliffs with birds. Sometimes you can also find walruses and seals here - mostly bearded seals, ringed seals and harp seals. And in the sea, of course, whales, especially dwarf whales and belugas.
On the island of Danskøya and nearby Amsterdamøya there are many lakes with a freshwater kind of a trout - the arctic char, as well as its anadromous varieties that migrate between the sea and the fresh water.
A polar bear breaks through thin Actic Ocean ice Aug. 23, 2009.