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Picture Library catalogue: Cambridge Bjørnøya (Bear Island) Expedition, 1932

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Cambridge Bjørnøya (Bear Island) Expedition, 1932

The Cambridge Bjørnøya (Bear Island) Expedition, 1932 was a small expedition with two members, Colin Bertram and David Lack, both zoologists. The aim of the expedition was to make a detailed study of the wildlife with Bertram studying the fresh-water wildlife and Lack studying the land wildlife. They spent slightly longer than the original six weeks planned on the island, and were there from 20 June to 10 August 1932, working from Tunheim in the north as a base.
They left Hull on 14 June in a trawler and sailed directly to Bear Island. The start of the summer was much later than usual, with snow lying in many places when the expedition arrived and most of the lakes were still frozen. It was therefore, possible to begin the zoological survey before the majority of the smaller animals had emerged. Apart from general collecting, the main work was a study of the animal communities, both land and fresh-water, to discover the reactions of the various animals to physical conditions, to plant life and to each other.
The intention of the expedition had been to use one of the houses in the abandoned village of Tunheim, but they received a very welcome and unexpected invitation to use rooms from the staff of the Norwegian wireless and meteorological station, who were the only other human inhabitants of the island.
Bear Island regularly experiences rough weather with strong winds and fog, and during their visit, the expedition only had five days with clear skies. For twenty-two of the days they experienced thick fog and the remainder of the time the weather was unsettled. This tended to delay the work, but fortunately, because they were able to extend their stay on the island, they were able to complete the survey. The expedition returned to Norway on the ship that brought the Polish International Polar Year Expedition to the island, which arrived on 4 August. They then made the journey back to England from Tromsö on board a trawler.

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Data in this catalogue was last updated on Tuesday, 13th June 2023.