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Saturday, 7 July 2012


Anders and Fred

We meet people in our travels and often make short but highly meaningful connections. In this way we met two amazing people in the course of their professional life up here in Svalbard. Fred Lamo and Anders Vess Thingnes were hired by The Sysselman Office (Governer of Svalbard) for a variety of tasks over the short period of summer. There are three teams of “Field Inspectors” - each composed of a Biologist and a member of the Politi (police). They fulfill a number of regulatory obligations including making sure permits are in order, count and evaluate birds and other wildlife and check on archeological remains on the island. Brought together arbitrarily, they’d never met before. Each one’s outstanding qualifications and life experience contributed to make them a viable team.

Fred wearing Gold
We learned a great deal in our shared meetings and meals. They each made a warm bond with Linda – not just because of her wonderful zest for life and for sharing of herself and her gold medal but also because of the respect and sacrifices she’s made to travel in the Arctic and learn as much as she can. Anders described the mating displays of the Arctic tern – Linda proceeded to take the most amazing photos of the male wooing his chosen female.

Financing his MA in Biology took Anders to Greenland over four summers. His eye for spotting wildlife and birds at great distances and his amazing fitness level (attested to by his skiing over the Brooks Range in Alaska during a time-off from his studies) seem to be characteristics of many young Norwegians. Fred held Linda’s gold medal appreciatively. He’d already won significant awards and been an Olympic prospect for Norway in his road racing event when he became injured. He is a magnificent shot and in this capacity trains the Norwegian Special Services. It was our good fortune to meet him as he was supposed to go to Afghanistan - luckily his Tour was cancelled.

When we mentioned Rune Somby, Anders knew him both as a skier and as a biologist. Rune taught Anders biology class how to identify which predator had killed reindeer (15 of them – all with different marks of predation!) Amazingly, the golden eagle can take credit for many reindeer kills.

Traversay (L) and Vision in South Georgia
We mentioned two young Norwegians we were impressed with away down in South Georgia (we were there in January 2008). While we were cautiously debouching our dinghy and cruising on our super-safe steel craft, they were bombing around various headlands in kayaks, scaling peaks, lassoing and butchering reindeer to have fresh  venison aboard the  Kiwi-registered S/V “Vision” and making a Norwegian TV presentation about their Antarctic - South Georgia trip. Anders knew their names – Audun Hetland and Reidar Gregersen – and we heard that both are now married. It was no surprise that one is now gaining a PhD in Psychology in Extreme Sports.

Bear a bit too close
Bear with Flare
So these connections between the generations carry us along our voyage and enrich our lives – we greatly admire the commitment and knowledge of these dedicated Norwegians and feel so fortunate to have spent the time with them.

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