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Ocean Ports of Call

Bellsund - Svalbard, Norway Highlights:
Van Mijenfjord, Van Keulenfjord, Recherchefjord
Bellsund is a fjord on the west coast of the island of Spitsbergen. It has two main arms, the Van Mijenfjord and Van Keulenfjord with the smaller Recherchefjord going south. The northernmost - Van Mijenfjorden - is separated from the main fjord by a long narrow island, Akseloya, which extends almost across the fjord. There are some historically interesting sites in the area. The land south of Bellsund and Van Keulenfjord is part of the South Spitsbergen National Park.

The Bellsund was one of the first fjords in Spitsbergen to be visited and used by whalers in the early 17th century. At Kapp Toscana on Ahlstrandhalvoya at the mouth of Van Keulenfjord, there are piles of Beluga skeletons - a reminder of the 20th century exploitation of these small white whales. In Recherchefjord the fragile tundra which backs the fjord may yield sightings of Reindeer and the remains of a 17th century Dutch whaling station at Lagerneset. At Midterhuken you can explore the remains of 17th century English whaling sites. Also the Pomors used the area as a hunting ground for centuries; there are several remains of their hunting stations near the west coast, especially north of Bellsund. Here, some of them may be older than 1596, the date of Barents' discovery of Spitsbergen.

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