Category Archives: Svalbard

TO THE VISITOR WHO TOOK OUR POLAR BEAR SIGN: Not to sacrifice journalistic impartiality or anything, but you suck

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So now you’ve got our famous sign countless thousands of people took photos of themselves with as their requisite Svalbard “trophy” shot. What are you going to do with it – hang it on your wall so you can brag to your family and friends about your trophy? (Seems fitting for your judgement and very hopefully not theirs.)

LOTS OF HELP – BUT TOO LATE FOR SOME? Government proposing 25M kr. in COVID-19 aid for tourism companies in Svalbard, but some said this summer help needed before fall

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The Norwegian government is proposing a supplemental 25 million kroner in assistance for tourism companies in Svalbard due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to previously-approved crisis aid targeted toward businesses, the Ministry of Trade and Industry announced Monday.

OFF TO A HEALTHY(?!) RUNNING START: Locals running crazily amok in the streets just a positive diagnosis the spirit of this year’s month of telethon fundraiser activities is starting strong

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So at least we’re back to this part of, um, normal life where a giant carrot, a coal miner with briefcase and a pink flamingo raft running wily-nilly through the streets of Longyearbyen isn’t the beginning of a bar joke.

COLD CASHLESS: Sparebank NordNorge closing half of its branches, including Svalbard’s only physical bank outlet

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Sparebank1 NordNorge is closing 16 of its 31 branches, including Longyearbyen’s only physical bank location, due to increased digitalization by customers that has accelerated during the COVID-pandemic and a desire to cut costs to increase profits, the company announced Thursday.

The impacts of the closure immediately resulted in widespread harsh criticism from locals, including Longyearbyen Mayor Arild Olsen stated the matter needs to be brought to the attention of Parliament.

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Sept. 8, 2020

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Month of local ‘TV auction’ activities start Saturday, with virus-related restrictions

A month of local activities for a national fundraiser – this time to remedy trash in oceans – is scheduled to start Saturday with the traditional relay race starting and ending outside Kulturhuset.

THE THICK BLUE LINE: For Svalbard governor’s new vehicle, ‘community policing’ means big blue reflective strips so people can easily recognize it when seeking help and see it the dark

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It won’t make getting pulled over for traffic stops any more pleasant, but The Governor of Svalbard is hoping an abundance of distinctive blue light emitting from its new police vehicle offer a more enlightening encounter with residents and tourists during dark times.

POLAR BEAR DIES WHILE BEING ‘TAGGED’: Researchers were fitting bear with monitoring device commonly used to track species’ population Svalbard; governor investigating death

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A polar bear being “tagged” for observation by researchers in north Svalbard died on Wednesday, according to The Governor of Svalbard. The cause is under investigation.

A CRIMINAL ACT? Person who fatally shot polar bear that killed Longyearbyen Camping manager faces charges – but such probes are routine and ‘to save human lives’ a legit defense

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It surely seems like common sense that 1) the death of a manager at Longyearbyen Camping and the polar bear that fatally attacked him are tragic, and 2) the person who shot the polar bear trying to save the manager during the attack acted reasonably.

But that’s what a full-blown investigation by prosectors – routine and often lengthy in human/bear encounters resulting in the death of the protected species – will determine, The Governor of Svalbard declared Tuesday.

HOTTEST SUMMER EVER IN SVALBARD: Temperature was 3C above ‘normal,’ including hottest day ever – but archipelago has been abnormally warm for the past three decades

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Photo by Jesper Madsen /Norwegian Polar Institute

It’s not exactly a shock that a summer that saw Svalbard’s hottest day in recorded history is also the hottest summer in history, with an average temperature of three degrees Celsius above normal.

But while unusually warm, that “normal” is a somewhat skewed figure since it omits a marked period of overall warming during the past 30 years.

‘ILLEGAL/RECKLESS DRIVING NOT COVERED BY DAMAGE WAIVER’: Tourists take rental truck beyond road in Bjørndalen, abandon it when it becomes stuck; now also face criminal fines

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Photo by Thomas Nilsen

Instant classic for the “don’t this if you’re a tourist in Svalbard” list: Visitors who drove a rental truck beyond the road onto the soggy tundra in Bjørndalen to “see wild animals in their proper element” got hopelessly stuck in mud and abandoned the vehicle without reporting it. So in addition to some hefty extra rental penalties they’re now facing criminal charges (and fines) for illegal driving that also violates environmental protection laws.