Moffen is a small island in the north of Svalbard, about 5 square kilometers big. The shape resembles a muff (hence its name), or a ring – it is round with a small lagoon in the middle. At first glance it does not look interesting – it is flat and stony, covered only with moss. However, it is important for two reasons.
Firstly, it is a nature reserve and an important area for re-settlement of walruses.
Secondly, it is just above the 80th parallel, the crossing of which is the dream of many sailors and travellers. From here it is only 1111 kilometers, or 600 nautical miles to the North Pole …
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The Land of Walruses and Whales
Moffen is entirely under protection. The island has played an important part in the process of the protection of walruses, which were threatened with extinction in the mid-20th century. Today in the south of the island one can spot huge herds of these large mammals, lying lazily by the water in the number of up to 100 individuals. The waters surrounding the island are extremely shallow, which facilitates finding food, and at the same time is a natural protection against landing and threat from the sea. In the summer period, from 15 May to 15 September, you can approach the island up to a distance of 300 m and from the air to 500 m.
In addition to walruses, you can find here bears, ducks, geese and many species of birds. There is a great number of arctic terns here, but you can also find the Sabine's gulls, extremely rare in Svalbard.
The island was already known in the 17th century, when walruses were hunted here on a large scale. Whalers also buried their dead here. One or two graves have been preserved to this day.
Moffen is meeting with whales and walruses, mountains and ice fields. Overwhelming beauty.