Wildlife

Franz Josef Land Expedition: The Underwater Colors of the Arctic

National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala is setting off to explore Franz Josef Land, one of the most remote archipelagos in the world, only 900 km from the North Pole. Home to polar bears, whales, seals and more, the team will investigate how global warming may be affecting this crucial ecosystem in ways we still do not fully comprehend. Follow his adventures throughout the month.

Say Arctic and the first thing that comes to mind is a vast, white immensity. But the Arctic has other worlds that are not apparent, and many colors.

Pock-marked submerged ice catches light from our divers and from the sun filtering in from above. (Photo by Enric Sala)
Pock-marked submerged ice catches light from our divers and from the sun filtering in from above. (Photo by Enric Sala)

The early explorers were heroic in their efforts to explore and survey, but missed most of the living space of the Arctic: its underwater world.

During our expedition to Franz Josef Land we are discovering this unknown world beneath the surface, and unveiling a colorful kaleidoscope.

Barely able to hold up their own weight on land, walruses reveal a far more nimble nature in the water. (Photo by Enric Sala)
Barely able to hold up their own weight on land, walruses reveal a far more nimble nature in the water. (Photo by Enric Sala)

These photos give a taste of that unseen world, showing a male walrus swimming in green water, the blue underneath of an iceberg, a delicate nudibranch with a mosaic of reds and ochres, and the deep brown of kelps streaming yellow when backlit.

The variety of colors and protuberances we have seen on nudibranchs around the world seems endless. (Photo by Enric Sala)
The variety of colors and protuberances we have seen on nudibranchs around the world seems endless. (Photo by Enric Sala)

Each day of the expedition is opening up new vistas and revealing new sights of amazing creatures such as these. Only time will tell what else we will see and discover in our time here.

NEXT: Read All Franz Josef Land 2013 Blog Posts

 

The Pristine Seas: Franz Josef Land expedition is sponsored by Blancpain and Davidoff Cool Water.

Marine ecologist Dr. Enric Sala is a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence who combines science, exploration and media to help restore marine life. Sala’s scientific publications are used for conservation efforts such as the creation of marine protected areas. 2005 Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, 2006 Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, 2008 Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum.
  • Allan Howes

    Just got my Advanced Open Water and looking forward to diving the frigid Arctic for the hidden secrets it holds!

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