Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of March 12, 2019


Mary-Ann Dahle strongly considering selling Mary-Ann’s Polarrigg because she is seriously ill with cancer, Svalbard’s walruses making a strong comeback after being nearly hunted to extinction and two intoxicated men found crawling/walking barefoot in the snow are saved by observers.

Mary-Ann Dahle seriously ill with cancer, may sell Polarrigg
Mary-Ann Dahle, the eccentric owner of the rustically renowned Mary-Ann’s Polarrigg during the past 20 years, is seriously ill with cancer and considering selling the business, according to her daughter. “It is not quite certain, and it is mum who still decides this,” Iris Dahle Bjørkmann said. “She is strongly considering selling, but has not decided completely.” Bjørkmann said she and her three siblings are not in a position to purchase and manage the lodge in Longyearbyen, but if an arrangement where they remain on the mainland is feasible it might be considered. The lodge has grown to 73 guest beds under Dahle’s ownership and last year had total revenues of 13.8 million kroner and a profit of about 1.6 million kroner.

Svalbard’s walruses, nearly hunted to extinction, making strong comeback
Walruses in Svalbard, which were nearly hunted to extinction when they became a protected species in 1952, have rebounded strongly in number and the most recent count shows a population of about 4,000, according to the Norwegian Polar Institute. “Now it is gratifying to see an increase in the stock,” said Kit Kovacs, a researcher for the institute who has tracked the population since the 1990s. “Especially in recent decades, the number of animals has grown strongly. In many places, researchers are seeing that the walrus is returning to the areas where their ancestors had resting places on the beaches. Also on the west coast of Svalbard, walruses are an increasingly common sight.” Studies by Kovacs and fellow researchers show Greenland whales and blue whales, two of the world’s largest mammals, are also increasing in number along the coast of Svalbard.

Drunk man crawling on snow, another walking barefoot saved from themselves in separate incidents
Anders Olsen was walking his dog near the ski hill Sunday night when he came across a rather startling sight: an obviously intoxicated man who “looked like he was swimming” by trying to crawl while lying in the snow in temperatures below minus 15 degrees Celsius. “It was just luck that I saw him,” Olsen said. “I followed and carried him to what he said was his apartment, but when I got there it turned out to be the wrong address.” Olsen called the police at The Governor of Svalbard’s office to report the man also had bruises all over his face and said he came from a fight. The man was brought to Longyearbyen Hospital for treatment and Olsen later received a message from the police stating “you saved a life.” The incident occurred a day after another intoxicated man was seen in about the same area, who took off his shoes and began walking while an onlooker called the governor’s office, with an official from there taking the man to safety.