Svalbard 2023


Here are some photos from my 2023 summer vacation trip to Svalbard. For years I have wanted to visit this Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. With my research background, I expected sooner or later to travel to Svalbard on a job-related mission. However, realizing that it may never happen, I decided to visit Svalbard as a tourist instead. I booked a flight on short notice (expensive!) and flew to Longyearbyen in mid July 2023.

I stayed in Longyearbyen for four days, and did two boat trips to see the local wildlife. The seond day I went on a walrus safari, and the third day on a wildlife and glacier catamaran tour. The last day I rented a car and explored the surroundings of Longyearbyen. Weather-wise it was a mixed experience. The first days it was cool and windy (6-7°C). On the final day it was sunny with temperatures up to 20°C!

I had two main target species I wanted to see. First, the Ivory Gull, and secondly the Walrus. I managed to see both species, but the Ivory Gull only from a distance. In terms of birds, there were not many species present near Longyearbyen. Being on Svalbard in mid July, I also took the opportunity to photograph some Arctic wildflowers. All in all, it was a very nice short vacation, and one more bucket list destination ticked off.



Walrus, Borebukta, Isfjorden


Target species one. Walrus / Hvalross (Odobenus rosmarus)


Target species two seen from a distance. Ivory Gull / Ismåke (Pagophila eburnea)


Beluga Whale / Hvithval (Delphinapterus leucas)


Minke Whale / Vågehval (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)


Borebreen, Isfjorden


Svalbard glacier






Arctic Skua (Europe) or Parasitic Jaeger (North America) / Tyvjo (Stercorarius parasiticus)


Glaucous Gull / Polarmåke (Larus hyperboreus)


Northern Fulmar / Havhest (Fulmarus glacialis)


Black-legged kittiwake / Krykkje (Rissa tridactyla)




Old shipwreck, Billefjorden


Pyramiden. A deserted Soviet/Russian settlement in Billefjorden


Interesting. Somebody has written "world peace" ("мирy мир peace") in the mountain above Pyramiden. Below is the Soviet "hammer and sickle"!


Nordenskiöldbreen, Billefjorden


Hybrid electric catamaran "MS Bard" boat cruise, Nordenskiöldbreen, Billefjorden


Arctic Tern / Rødnebbterne (Sterna paradisaea)


Long-tailed Duck / Havelle (Clangula hyemalis)


Barnacle Goose / Hvitkinngås (Branta leucopsis)


Leuctistic Barnacle Goose


Pink-footed Goose / Kortnebbgås (Anser brachyrhynchus). In Sweden called Spetsbergsgås!


Svalbard Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus). A subspecies endemic to the islands of Svalbard


Common Eider / Ærfugl (Somateria mollissima)


King Eider / Praktærfugl (Somateria spectabilis)


Red-throated Diver (Britain and Ireland) or Red-throated Loon (North America) / Smålom (Gavia stellata)


Black Guillemot / Teist (Cepphus grylle)


Little Auk or Dovekie / Alkekonge (Alle alle)


The Little Auk is very common on Svalbard near Longyearbyen


Brünnich's Guillemot (Europe) or Thick-billed Murre (North America) / Polarlomvi (Uria lomvia)


Brünnich's Guillemot


Brünnich's Guillemot breeding cliff in Billefjord


Brünnich's Guillemot breeding cliff


Atlantic Puffin / Lundefugl (Fratercula arctica)


Atlantic Puffin


Red-necked Phalarope / Svømmesnipe (Phalaropus lobatus)


Red-necked Phalarope. Did not see the Red Phalarope, unfotunately


Dunlin / Myrsnipe (Calidris alpina)


Common Ringed Plover / Sandlo (Charadrius hiaticula)


Purple Sandpiper / Fjæreplytt (Calidris maritima)


Nice to see the Purple Sandpiper in summer plumage!






Svalbard Rock Ptarmigan / Svalbardrype (Lagopus muta hyperborea) - female


Svalbard Rock Ptarmigan - male


Snow Bunting / Snøspurv (Plectrophenax nivalis)


Snow Bunting 1K


Pygmy Saxifrage / Polarsildre (Saxifraga hyperborea)


Stiff Stem Saxifrage / Stivsildre (Micranthes hieraciifolia)


Svalbard Poppy / Svalbardvalmue (Papaver dahlianum)


Marsh Saxifrage / Myrsildre (Saxifraga hirculus)


Draba oxycarpa / Bleikrublom


Most likely Draba pauciflora / Tundrarublom. There are many Draba species on Svalbard. This one is not found on mainland Norway


Hairy Lousewort / Lodnemyrklegg (Pedicularis hirsuta)


Woolly Lousewort or Arctic Hairy Lousewort / Ullmyrklegg (Pedicularis dasyantha). I hoped to find two plant species on Svalbard, the Woolly Lousewort and the Broadsepal Saxifrage / Trådsildre (Saxifraga platysepala) (the latter was not found)


Nodding Campion / Polarblindurt (Silene uralensis arctica)


Artic White Campion / Polarjonsokblom (Silene involucrata furcata)








Main street Longyearbyen






Ready for the winter! Snow machines in Longyearbyen


Longyearbyen. Housing for the miners?


One of many dog kennels in Longyearbyen


Polar bear warning outside Longyearbyen


Mining site near Longyearbyen. Gruve 7 is the last mine operated by Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani on Svalbard


Adventdalen, view from Gruve 7


Adventdalen, Gruve 6


Adventdalen, Gruve 6


Mining ropeway, Longyearbyen


Leftovers from Gruve 2


My rental car under the midnight sun in Adventdalen


Tourists with an armed guide. Must admit I took my chances exploring the surroundings of Longyearbyen. Polar bears are extremely rare near Longyearbyen during summer