Tromsø and Fugløya, Norway

May 28, 2019 - National Geographic Explorer

The morning is gorgeous: sunny, warm and windless.

Ha! When is morning? Just after sunrise? That was days ago. At this time of year, at this latitude of almost 70° north, the sun does not set. So, morning begins when I wake up!

This morning we are at the city of Tromsø, tied up to a dock right in downtown. Tromsø, with over 75,000 inhabitants, is the third largest settlement north of the Arctic Circle. The two larger towns are in Russia and they are climatically much harsher as they do not have any ocean currents warmed by a tropical sun.

After breakfast there are planned and unplanned activities. Some folks opt for the nature walk, which is a bit of a bus ride from the ship. Others opt for the city tour visiting the Polar Museum, the Arctic Cathedral, and the Tromsø Museum. At the museums we learn about Norway’s exploration and exploitation of the Arctic. Some people go for the “do it on your own” option and go about this pretty town by foot, maybe grabbing a coffee at one of the numerous cafes to sit outside, enjoying the sun and the sights.

After lunch we leave Tromsø in our wake and head for one last site in Norway proper, the cliffs of Fugløya Island. The island is over 2,000 feet high. The cliffs are composed of layers of gneiss providing lots of ledges for nesting sea birds. As the sea is extremely calm, we explore the imposing cliffs by Zodiac. While the nesting season is just getting started there are still plenty of birds of numerous species. However, today’s big-ticket items appear to be the puffin and the white-tailed eagle—we see plenty of both.

The eagles are soaring about, above the cliffs and in front of the cliffs. Although their usual prey are fish, they will take birds and mammals. The puffins are also seen in the air, fast and furious. They are difficult to see on the ground because they are short and disappear in the vegetation. They are best viewed on the water with a patient approach by Zodiac.

All and all a splendid day and a long evening—an evening that looks just like day!

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About the Author

Dennis Cornejo


Dennis began scuba diving during the mid-1970s as part of a research project. At the time he was a research associate at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona, studying the population of winter hibernating sea turtles.  What began as a scientific study soon became a conservation project that expanded to three species of sea turtles along the entire Pacific coast of Mexico.  This project received major funding from the World Wildlife Fund and was eventually taken over directly by that agency with Kim Clifton and Dennis Cornejo as co-principal investigators.

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