August 7, 2008
Eastern Baffin Island - Sunneshine Fjord:
Click here to explore yesterday's photos and journal updates! We have videos posted, too!
Photo by Lee Narraway
We just spoke with Expedition Leader Geoff Green via satellite phone - and he reports that the team is all well, healthy and extremely busy on board the "Polar Ambassador!"
They were off the ship for most of the day today in a spectacular location called Sunneshine Fjord. After breakfast, the team had a botany lecture by Canadian Museum of Nature researcher extraordinare Dr. Julian Starr - and immediately after the lecture, it was all hands on deck, as the ship turned into the fjord and sailed through some spectacular pack ice.
Once safely anchored, everyone jumped into zodiacs for the day's landing and adventure!
The team broke into workshop groups to study geology, ornithology, botany, marine biology and plankton studies. See if you can match the group names with the disciplines, we just listed: Rockheads, Hawkers, Veg Heads, Beachcombers and the Aquarians. At least we think Geoff said Aquarians!
It was, by all accounts, a spectacular day -- combing across beaches, exploring arctic tundra and cliff faces, zodiac cruising through ice, plankton nets in tow.
The team was just assembling on the beach at 6:00 pm to head back to the ship for dinner and the evening program!
Photo by Lee Narraway
Graham May, Student
Today I officially arrived in the North, as we finally crossed the Arctic Circle. We went to shore for a much needed hike and crossed the line at some time on the slow climb up the mountain side. The mountain was incredibly beautiful. When we first came ashore there was an extremely heavy fog, but as we climbed we rose above it, the neighboring mountaintops stuck out above the fog like islands. At the top there was a snow bank that hadn’t melted yet, and Marianna, a quiet girl from Mexico, had never seen snow before. We introduced it to her with sliding, snow angels, and, to her great excitement, a huge snowball fight. As we descended the mountain, the fog lifted and the last rays of sunlight lit up the river canyon. It is in moments like that that I am reminded how lucky I am to be here, not just on this trip but in this beautiful country, and this irreplaceable world. And that makes me want to protect it.
I am constantly amazed by the interesting and unique people on this journey. A common goal brings together the most unlikely of personalities. There are kids (just kids!) here that speak 5 languages, have written books, or have founded vastly successful environmental groups. There are adults here who have had award winning movies made about their lives, have received the order of Canada, or have explored the deepest depths of our oceans. The kind of things these people have achieved is truly inspiring, and I hope that they will inspire me to also do great things. This is, without question, one of the best programs I have ever attended.
P.S. - Lots of thanks to Bali, as it is mainly thanks to her that I am here at all. I’m sorry I can’t meet you today, but have fun in Singapore!
Lauren Law, Student
Today we crossed the Arctic Circle near a place called Cape Dyer which is near the southeast coast of Baffin Island. We entered an area called Sunneshine Fjord and we experienced our first land expedition. I participated in the first bird survey for this area, however, we saw no birds. I built my first Inuksuk with an Inuit named Willia, from Nunavik. I also had the privilege of spending time with Ann Hanson, the Commissioner of Nunavut. Ann showed us these leaves you could eat from a plant called Sorrel. The leaves had a tart taste to them and were high in Vitamin C. We also hiked and got about 1,500 m above sea level. I was completely awe-struck by the view. There was fog that hugged the mountains and it gave everything a mystical aura. I felt free and calmed. I took a few moments to be alone and I could hear in the distance a shrill cry. I later found it was the cry of an Arctic fox. I have never felt so at peace with myself and with the environment.
Photo by Lee Narraway
Phillip Hanson Comeau, Student
The best part of my trip so far was meeting new people and getting to learn where they are from, and their cultures and what they believe in. Also learning words in new languages, including words like “good morning, good afternoon, and thank you” were fun.
Today’s hike was very amusing because I got to talk to people while I was hiking, and got to know more about them. I also got to see the views, and learned about many different species of plants that I never knew existed.
Ever since I joined the expedition in Iqaluit, I was able to obtain more knowledge about my land from a different perspective. Instead of always thinking about the Arctic the way I knew it, I learned how to think outside of the box. Instead of looking at my home the way I knew it, I learned how to think differently.
Max Liddle, Student (written on August 6)
Today was amazing! We had a great breakfast (bacon and eggs). They are actually pretty good chefs! We then had long, loooong lectures in the lecture hall. Afterwards we split up into our previous bus groups. One went out on the zodiacs while we stayed back and learned about ice and water. We heard about the composition of ice crystals and how it is different in snow than in glaciers. I will embellish on this upon my return to the U.S. so if you have any questions please ask then!
The most exciting part of my day was the zodiac cruise. We went out on these boats and cruised the coastline of rocky cliffs with tens of thousands of birds. There were penguin-birds that could fly and swim. It was really cool! Apparently they fly up to 100 miles from their nest and dive up to 600ft down into the frigid Arctic Ocean. They truly are amazing! There were also gulls nesting on the same cliffs which were the penguin-like birds’ predators. I got tons of good pictures and a few videos of the zodiac cruise.
Another unexpected thing that we did on the zodiacs was going into an iceberg. These things are huge!!!
In conclusion, I think I may be picking up a bit of a Canadian accent, eh? It’s funny because I thought the Canadians talked really funny, but now I don’t think so anymore. I guess you will all get to be the judge when I return. Well I am sitting at my computer hitting extra keys every few seconds because of the rocking of the boat. LOL. Well I just want to thank all of you who helped to get me out on this trip; I really would not have had this amazing opportunity without you
Mariana Hill Cruz, Student
Hoy fue nuestro primer dia de actividades en el barco. Despues del desayuno el grupo Glaciar fue al zodiaco y a los Tundra nos dieron una conferencia del hielo, despues nos toco ir al zodiaco.
Fuimos a las islas salvajes a ver aves, un monton de aves, fue realmente increible. Estuvimos un buen rato observandolas y aunque no nos bajamos del zodiaco, fue realmente divertido.
Ya en el barco, nos dieron una platica de los inuit, despues a cenar y por ultimo a dormir.
Photo by Lee Narraway
Mariana Hill Cruz, Student
Fue un gran dia ya que en la manana lanzamos botellas con mensajes dentro al mar, fue muy bonito y despues llegamos a una zona con hielo, eso nadie se lo pierde, fue muy emocionante ver como el barco pasaba por una zona llena de iceberg.
Al principio no nos dejaron ir al zodiaco porque estaba muy nublado pero cuando se despejo el cielo pudimos ir. Increible, todo el mar lleno de hielo y neblina y focas, muchas focas. Ese dia fue toda una aventura sobre el zodiaco, incluso encontramos una foca bebe.
Despues de la cena, un senor que crio unos gansos nos platico su vida y luego nos conto como le mostro el camino a sus gansos hacia el sur guiandolos con un aeroplano.Luego, a dormir.
Wayne Lovstrom, Chaperone (written on August 6)
It is foggy this morning but I know that somehow ‘Students on Ice’ will provide another full day of adventure. After all, our motto is “Flexibility is the key.”
Yesterday gave me my first experience of an iceberg up close and personal. It was more awe inspiring than I expected it would be; any photo I have seen of one has never relayed to me how tiny I would feel in the zodiac when we were next to it.
Being with the students on the trip is awe inspiring in itself. The questions I have heard after the presentations show that there is an incredible amount going on inside those heads.
I decided to take this trip based on the experiences my daughter has told me about when she took it in 2007 but her stories, as exciting as they were, did not convey what the experience is really like. Even though the expedition is only 2 days old, I know it is going to be over too soon.
Photo by Lee Narraway
Rohit Mehta, Student (written on August 6)
Reflections on our First Ice Experience:
We lined up in the gangway, unsure of what to expect ahead of us. A change in the weather had allowed us to go on a zodiac ride today. As we set off, sea ice rose from the infinite sea, and teased us with her beauty. The fog humming over the ocean gave me an eerie sense of awe. Each iceberg we passed was glowing a rich blue, unlike any other.
During this experience, I believe we were all mesmerized. As we continued, curious seals poked their heads out of the water and quickly disappeared. Struggling to get he perfect shot, we came upon a harp seal relaxing on a floe of sea ice. The innocent baby seal did not understand fear, and put on a show like no other. With its sweet innocent eyes, it directed its attention at us humans, unaware of our feelings of amazement. As we slowly inched along the water, we were reminded of what we are fighting for.
This experience taught me that nature is truly the greatest artist, for nature can evoke feeling of awe, excitement, and amazement, from even the smallest droplets of water, to the vastness of its own oceans.
Elizabeth Steves, Student
We have just arrived back froman incredible excursion. What started out being five groups doing workshops turned into a collective hike to the top of the fjord. Bird watching was not in our favour, so we walked, ate wild blueberries and other things, and hiked. Anne Hanson shared a story about how a seal is traditionally served to the Inuit. She said that the seal is divided into sections for only men and only women. Seal eyes are saved for someone higher in the community, never given to children.
There was a thick fog stopping our view of the water, but when we reached the top it was a beautiful sight. Upon reaching the summit, we heard the howl of an arctic fox. All in all, it was an exciting day.
Mariana Hill Cruz, Student
Hoy fue uno de los mejores dias de mi vida. Conoci la nieve.
Por primera vez desde que subimos al barco, pisamos tierra firme, esta vez todos juntos. Luego nos dividimos en dos grupos y fuimos a explorar la isla; mi grupo se fue por la costa despues comenzamos a escalar y de ahi, no nos detuvimos. Pronto nos reunimos con los otros grupos y fuimos avanzando, no se cuanto subimos pero jamas habia escalado tanto: subias a la “cima” y al llegar descubrias que la montana era mas alta, luego llegabas a la siguiente “cima” y descubras que era todavia mas alta, pero por los paisajes que se veian, valia la pena seguir escalando.
Cuando por fin llegue a una cima bastante amplia, el grupo se reunio y despues, a escalar mas pues esa no era la cima. Hasta ese momento no habia visto nieve pero entonces la encontre, en una zona un poco inclinada de la montana, justo cuando el grupo se detuvo para volver, pero nos dieron tiempo para ir a la nieve Y cuando llegue ahi jugamos una guerra de bolas de nieve, fue realmente divertido.
Despues de eso regresamos a los zodiacos, fue entonces cuando me di cuenta de todo lo que habiamos escalado, por primera vez me tuve que detener en una bajada porque simplemente estaba demasiado cansada para seguir. Al fin llegamos a los zodiacos y regresamos al barco donde cenamos y luego nos dieron una platica sobre el Artico.
Photo by Lee Narraway
Ophelia Snyder, Student
It is a really uncanny feeling that a place is waiting for you, calling to you. Even across an ocean and through the fog, I can feel the ice and the land calling to us, drawing us out on to the decks, flushed with expectation. It’s an odd feeling knowing that there is a place waiting for you, a place so full of beauty you can barely blink, unwilling to sever your sight from the unrelenting outpouring of spectacular views.
The serene beauty that this place possesses in effect ends up possessing us, driving us to do things we never had considered, may be even never wanted. Sometimes it seems as if you never leave and others like you have never been at all. After many trips to the north, the sight of the ice still brings tears to my eyes; the sight of a seal still takes my breath away.
Benjamin Tur, Student
D’un voyage on peut se souvenir de beaucoup de choses: des images, des moments, des chansons, ou encore des sons comme le “Good Morning Students on Ice, it’s seven o’clock” de Geoff, qui à la manière de Robin Williams avec son “Good Morning Vietnam!”, nous reveille chaque matin dans nos cabines. C’est ce genre de petite chose de tous les jours qui restera avec nous. Parfois des choses exceptionelles--- comme ce jeune phoque avec qui on est entré en communion, hier dans ce paysage quasi fantastique; un océan aussi calme qu’un lac, sur lequel flottait des morceaux d’iceberg, tout ça entouré par une épaisse brume donnant à cet incroyable spectacle quelque chose de spirituel. Cette dame assise à coté de moi a, je pense, réussi à définir cette éxperience: de la science fiction.
Delphine Remillard Labrosse, Student
La mer qu’on voit danser..
La mer nous réserve que de surprises. Tout change si rapidement. Tout est si impressionnant que ça m’apparaît irréel. Hier, on est parti en expédition à bord des zodiacs vers l’inconnu car il y avait un épais brouillard et on ne pouvait voir à plus de 60 m. Puis, soudainement, sous un arc-en-ciel fait de brouillard (un arc-en-ciel tout blanc) la banquise nous est apparue. Sur la banquise, une quinzaine de phoques avec leur progéniture semblaient peu intimidés par la présence d’Homo sapiens. Quand est venu le temps de retourner au bateau, nous devions tenter de nous orienter dans ce brouillard car on ne voyait rien. On était au beau milieu de nul part, sur l’océan Arctique. On se fiait au GPS et soudain le bateau est apparu. J’adore regarder la forme des nuages et essayer de trouver qu’est-ce qui s’y cache. Sur le bateau, je m’adonne plutôt à trouver des formes dans les icebergs qu’on croise sur notre chemin. J’ai vu, en autres, des phoques, des champignons et Elvis. Je n’ai pas écrit beaucoup ces derniers jours parce que je souffrais du mal de mer (note aux Rémillard Labrosse: tout va bien maintenant). Mais grâce à cela, je restais dehors aux côtés du capitaine de notre navire à scruter l’horizon pendant des heures, dans le silence. Peu à peu, les icebergs émergeaient du brouillard et chaque fois ça créait un moment unique auquel je me sentais privilégiée d’assister, toute seule au beau milieu de l’océan. Quelques heures plus tard, tout le brouillard s’est dissipé et on a pu admirer le merveilleux coucher de soleil. Il a duré des heures et des heures. Le ciel contenait toutes les couleurs dans les palettes orange et rouge. La mer brillait sous la réflection du soleil et l’eau était d’un bleu marin franc. Les couleurs étaient inversées rendant les icebergs noirs. Ça me faisait penser à une peinture de Vincent Van Gogh. Notre itinéraire change constamment et on ne fait que se diriger vers le Nord depuis 2 jours. Cet après-midi, l’aventure continue. On va aller sur la terre ferme pour la première fois depuis notre départ d’Iqualuit et marcher directement sur le cercle arctique.
Alexandra Polasko, Student
“…And the man you are about to hear is a farmer, an architect, a pilot, and living proof that you can do anything when you put your mind to it.” These are the words that are embedded in my mind, as Geoff introduced Bill Lishman.
Dr. Lishman has traveled to the sky and back alongside geese and whooping cranes, sold his truly inspirational sculptures in countries far and wide and experienced the glitz and glamour as Hollywood made a movie based on his life titled “Fly Away Home”.
What struck me most was not his awards, degrees, or even fame, but his passion to create dreams out of whatever interested him, his courage to chase after them with persistence, and his determination to keep going until he succeeded. It was almost as if I saw the fire in his eyes yearning for adventure. Whenever our eyes met I felt passionate, courageous, and determined for my future. He showed me that any person can do great things and pursue great adventures; it’s just up to your imagination to figure out which one to go on first! Thank you Bill. Your words have inspired my imagination to soar to new heights… literally. Stay Tuned for Further Updates!