29-year old Kristine Tofte from Stavanger is currently living on a remote island in the Barents Sea.
Kristine has a master’s degree in Meteorology and is currently working as a meteorologist at the meteorological station on Bear Island. Her main tasks include doing hourly weather observations, reading weather reports over the radio and releasing weather balloons.
She considers herself to be outgoing, funny, and maybe a little quirky. When she is not working, she is usually found on the beach preferable with a surfboard. Other hobbies include taking photos, travelling and meeting new people. She recently moved home after living five years on the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii, in the United States.
What made you move to Bjørnøya?
- I was on the lookout for a new job after moving home from Hawaii. That is when I came across a job application as a meteorologist on Bear Island, and I remembered seeing Bear Island the movie a few years earlier. The movie was made by three brothers who explored the entire island by skiing, surfing, snowboarding, climbing and paragliding. The island looked like a giant playground surrounded by ocean. “I decided I was going to apply and I was fortunate to get the job" says Tofte.
The island life is pretty mellow. They all work, eat and sleep in the same building and spend about zero time getting to and from places. Their office is less than a minute away from their rooms and the gym might be slightly more than a minute away. There are two chefs working on the island and they order all the food and cook all the meals, so no need for a grocery store here.
"The nature is absolutely beautiful so we spend a lot of time outside. We have three huskies, Aki, Eerkki and Laban, on the station so they usually come with us on both shorter and longer hikes. The dogs are on the island as companions when hiking but also to protect against polar bears. We always bring a rifle with us every time we leave the station area. Even though there has not been any polar bears sightings since 2012, the rifle is mostly ment as a safety precaution.
Nine people living on the island
Tofte describes it as a bit challenging to live on an isolated island, but finds it to be a good learning experience.
"Living with only eight other people, I have learned a lot about myself and I have learned a lot from everyone. The hardest part about living here is missing friends and family, but luckily I know I will see them soon.”
The most exciting moment
"My most exciting experience up here was the second time I surfed a spot called Nordhamna. The first time I surfed, the waves were pretty small and not really surfable, but the second time was a lot of fun. The weather was perfect with no windy, sunny and good waves. I was also fortunate to have a photographer with me to capture the moment."
“This summer had a lot of visitors. A majority of the visitors came by sailboats and the rest came from cruise ships. The Norwegian Polar Institute had nine bird scientists on the island for a two-month period. We have also had a large number of geologists on the island, in addition to a few marine biologists, two architects and a northern lights researcher.
The Coast Guard deliver provisions every four to six weeks, and usually bring with them young privates eager to see the island. Everyone is welcome for some cake and a hot cup of coffee, and to join the “Bjørnøya nakenbadeforening” club. According to Tofte, the club consists of over 3000 members who have willing taken a swim in the cold Arctic water with no clothes on.
An adventure paradise
Bear Island is an adventure paradise. One unique thing about the island is all the rock formations like Sylen, Perleporten, Engelskstauren and Kvalkjeften. There are also two visible shipwrecks and two aircrafts. One of the planes were blown up during WW2 and the other one crashed during a snowstorm in 1954, Tofte said.
The island also has six mountains in the south. Here, large amounts of birds come every summer to nest. These birds include common guillemots, guillemots, arctic skua, little auk, skua, kittiwake, fulmars, puffin and many more. “It is a very special experience to see and hear the entire Bird Mountain covered with ten thousands of birds", Kristine says.
After living on Bjørnøya for a while, i`ve fallen in love with it. Being close to the nature, the beautiful attractions, and just the thrill and excitment of living her. I really recommend Bjørnøya- If you want to experience something different and uniq.