STUDENTS ON ICE EXPEDITIONS | Natural Heritage Building | 1740 chemin Pink | Gatineau, QC J9J 3N7 CANADA |

International Polar Year

August 1, 2009

Students and staff get up close and personal with an iceberg - The first one of the trip!
Photo by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

Click Above to Watch "Departure!"

Click Above to Watch "Kuujjuaq"

9:17 a.m. Update

Click here to see the team's current location as of 9:17 a.m.

We just heard from our Expedition Leader, Geoff Green, who has reported that the team are all well! After a full day in their first Arctic community - Kuujjuaq - the team bid farewell to their friends and set sail at 6:00 p.m. yesterday evening.

This morning, the team - as of 9:20 a.m. - is leaving Ungava Bay and heading into the Hudson Strait. Here they have encountered some strong winds and the students are experiencing their first taste of a rolling ship! There is some sea-sickness - but our Expedition Doctor - Iqaluit's Dr. Melissa Allan - is patrolling with sea sickness suggestions and remedies in hand.

Because of the winds, Geoff has decided that Hantzch Island is too exposed for a visit this afternoon, and so instead they headed for Resolution Island off the tip of Baffin Island - where they made their first Zodiac cruise and remote Arctic landing!

Before arriving at Resolution Island around 4:00 p.m. this afternoon, the team will spend time both out on deck watching for sea life and in the presentation hall learning about the Arctic. This morning, Eric Galbraith will present an introductory briefing on the Arctic oceans - and Garry Donaldson will present an introductory briefing on Arctic Birds.

As Geoff was speaking to us on the satellite phone a few moments ago, we had a chance to speak with two students - Tara from New York, and Jen from Burlington, Ontario - both of whom were outside on deck getting some air! Tara reports loving the Zodiac ride out to the ship yesterday and seeing her first icebergs this morning - and Jen, clutching the satellite phone in one hand and a sea-sick bag in the other - said she was having a fabulous time, and wishes her friends and family were here to see what she was seeing, but not what she was feeling! Inuit elder Jushua Illauq - who was nearby told the students that being sick makes us appreciate being human!

Our expedition ship, the Lyubov Orlova in the fog
Photo by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

Evening Update: Resolution Island

At about 5:00 p.m. the team arrived at Resolution Island at the southeast corner of Baffin Island. The winds finally subsided and those who were down for the count with some form of sea sickness were up and about and out on deck taking in their first encounter with hundreds of icebergs.

Our Captain found us an exceptional cove to visit - and shortly before 6:00 p.m. - the ship dropped anchor, the Zodiacs were lowered into icy water and the exploration was underway!

After exploring the icebergs, weeping sea-cliffs - chocked with sea birds - and the spectacular craggy inlets of this coastline - it was back to the ship for a hot, nourishing dinner! But just before dinner, there was a call to come back out on deck as some whales had been spotted off the side of the ship. Much clamouring about for cameras and jackets ensued as everyone rushed to the side of the ship for the team's first whale sighting!

Students got to touch an iceberg. This ice is probably thousands of years old.

Photo by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

After an exuberant dinner - where the laughter and chatter was reaching high decibel levels - it was off to the presentation lounge to break up into workshop groups: Photography with Lee Narraway; Music with Ian Tamblyn; a follow up exercise to John Streicker's presentation on The Other Side of the Moon; and Art with Linda Mackey and Jolly Atagoyuk.

Following the workshops - Ian Tamblyn presented a song that he wrote that day called "Big White Phone."

Click here to hear Ian's song!

And so after a long day of a rolling and pitching ship, giant icebergs, Zodiac rides, whales off the port side, hearty meals, print making, singing and likely a fair share of friendly goofing around.. it was time for bed!

Lights out at 11:00 p.m.


Student and Staff Impressions from August 1

Agatha Kang - Student
My first day on the ship has been confusing so far. I’ve been seasick for the past ten hours, but I am now feeling much better after the Zodiac cruise. We got to see some icebergs and we even went close enough that we got to touch the iceberg! We also observed bubbles coming up from the bottom of the ocean! The iceberg farted! The unfortunate fact was that the icebergs were melting. There must be a way to slow this down! We must find a way to preserve the beautiful icebergs!!  

Sophie Tukalak - Student
The ship is really cool. The motion is so calm feeling – that is if you’re not sea sick – which I was for most of the day. The air is colder but still nice. A lot colder then Kuujjuaq though. The crew workers on the ship are awesomely cool.

Since this is the second day on the ship there isn’t much to write, but for sure there will be more.

Eden Full - Student
I have just returned from a Zodiac cruise around Acadia Cove of Resolution Island, an area previously unexplored by Students on Ice expeditions! It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life, and nothing else I have ever done before. I am so thankful that we were given a checklist of clothing items to bring; it was freezing, but I was able to stay warm and dry. We got up close and personal to a few icebergs, a nesting site for gulls, a waterfall and the shore of the cove. We even got to see a glimpse of a small otter!

Whenever I need some time to think to myself, I go for a walk, or I do something that gives me the opportunity to enjoy my surroundings while being able to contemplate. Going on a Zodiac cruise provided me this opportunity. With the wind blowing furiously in my face and the salty mist splashing everywhere, the tranquility that came with all of that was absolutely amazing. Being technologically deprived and away from everything I am familiar with has provided me with a certain clarity regarding my own perspectives on myself, those I care about, what I value in life and of course – climate change and environmentalism. I cannot wait to see what else is coming next!

If this gets published on the website – Mom and Dad, I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to contact you. Don’t worry, I’m still alive. (Yes, Vivian, this means you can’t have my room.)

Minke whale ! Minke whale ! Did you see it ?
Photo by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

Gabrielle Alix - Étudiante
Ce matin, le réveil a été accompagné de vagues énormes qui éclaboussaient le hublo. Nous naviguions dans le détroit d`Hudson, l’une des mers les plus agitées que nous aurons à traverser durant l`expédition. Le vent a fait s’élever les vagues, faisant tanguer le bateau de tous les côtés. Selon notre équipe d’éducateurs, la mer était plus agitée qu’elle ne l’avait été depuis quelques années d`expéditions de SOI. Le mal de mer a frappé plusieurs étudiants, y compris moi-même, et certains éducateurs. Au programme ce matin il y avait deux présentations sur l`Arctique. Malheureusement je n`ai pas pu participer, comme plusieurs autres, puisque j`étais trop mal en point. Cet après-midi, le capitaine du bateau a changé de direction vers Resolution Island. Le bateau tangait donc beaucoup moins et le mal de mer se dissipait. Nous avons eu droit à des ateliers avec les éducateurs. Puis, vers 16h, nous avons encré le navire dans la petite baie au sud de Resolution Island et nous avons fait une balade en Zodiac.

Alica Vanin - Student
So far: Sea sick. The morning seemed like this: breakfast, regurgitation, sleep, draw, feel better, regurgitation, lunch, etc. You get the picture.

There were lovely workshops in the afternoon, and I attended the photography class led by Lee Narraway. It covered the basics, which was great, and it also managed to incorporate the more advanced concepts surrounding compositions, lightings, focus points, and apertures. I thoroughly enjoyed learning from her, and I hope to do quite a bit more in the future.

Just as the class was ending a voice boomed over the PA that there was our first glimpse of icebergs, and more truly “sensational” sights if we wished to dash up onto the decks. Being in the photography class we were instantly excused, and all us students toppled through the doors. It was our first clear look at the Arctic. Crisp, cold, refreshing air that was clean, and blustering – beautiful!

Janet Waldon - Staff
8 AM and I have done my first round of morning room checks, had a cup of coffee and JUST missed our first iceberg off the starboard deck!  Tina and Jayne were there to see it; another one will have to be MY first!  I continue to be amazed by the collective knowledge on board; casual conversation has a depth that is so rich and varied!  Now that we are into the large swells people are starting to stagger a bit as they move about the decks. A few are nibbling crackers, passing cards of Gravol around and staring blankly off the deck into the distant waves and mist. There is an attitude of respect for the sea and a wonder at our surroundings – a start to another eventful day! 

4 PM. Perhaps all the years aboard my parent’s boat served me well today – I was upright and smiling though the morning and afternoon, which was a good thing because there was a lot to do and see! Highlights of my afternoon included the Artist workshops with Linda and Jolly… only upstaged by the call from the bridge on a whale sighting!  It only escalated: MY first iceberg, seals on the rocks, birds on the cliffs and a polar bear with two cubs high on the shore!  Geoff called an immediate Zodiac briefing and we suited up the first of two groups (the Polar Bears) to send out cruising for an hour.  My group (the Orcas) is anxiously waiting the return of the drivers, the lifejackets and our shipmates… so we can have our turn!  Energy is high.  A safe harbour on the southern tip of Resolution Island has afforded us some respite from the constant rolling of the ship and as expected there are many happy (less green) faces emerging from below deck!

Jenna Gall - Student
It is now 1:30 p.m. here on the ship and the day has been great so far…well for me anyway. I am NOT sea sick, which I thought I would be but I am feeling 100%, although many of my fellow expeditioner’s are very sick! It finally got sunny outside today which got me really excited although the fog is covering it, it seems to create a magical glow from the deck and I love just sitting and taking it all in. This has been such a great experience so far and I really love it. We listened to some lectures this morning and I really loved the Arctic Bird presentation by Garry Donaldson! I also got a chance to have a great conversation with Lee Narraway, our amazing photographer and she gave me some great tips and pointers about my shots. It was great! I am really anxious to get off the ship and onto the Zodiacs for some shore landings. While I was out on deck earlier today watching the miles and miles of ocean pass me by, I was thinking about a really special person in my life who would have loved to be there with me to see the sights and experience an adventure like this one. We are headed across the Hudson Strait as we speak and the waves are tossing the ship as I type; I love the feeling, it seems to make me feel like I am floating! Walking is quite a comical challenge as well!

Jenny Donovan - Student
Today I write as a member of the “Horizonal House”!  The lounge has been re-named.  As a result of strong NE winds on our voyage today, and quite a few of us did not have our sea legs on. The rule of “crawling before walking” has taken on a whole new meaning!  I missed the morning lectures unfortunately, but got a chance to participate in an Art workshop which was very interesting.  The green I saw on people’s faces will be featured in my next painting for sure.  The angry sea (according to my body anyway) caused us to divert paths to the Acadian Cove of Resolution Island.  I got some “ice in my veins” when we passed through an iceberg!! (Don’t worry Dad, I took a video) We also saw hundreds of birds’ (Glaucous Gull) nests and orange lichen (extremely popular in the Arctic) caused by their ploppings.  Other wildlife sightings include Black Guillemots, seals from the Zodiac and some people saw 3 polar bears and a whale from the deck (I was still horizontal at the time). The fog here certainly added to the surreal scenery and acted as a welcome very appropriate to the upcoming adventures to come!  Lots of love!

Tony was all smiles in the zodiac
Photo by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

Laurissa Christie - Student
WOW! What an experience.  This is the fourth day of the expedition, and the first full day at sea!   We all of gotten to know each other so well.  This morning, I looked out my window and the first thing I saw was a huge iceberg, the view of the iceberg followed by the pounding of cold crashing waves at 40 knots an hour.   This morning before breakfast we went to the upper decks and the bridge.  If you are now awake before getting to the top deck, it does not take very long!  We were afraid that we were going to blow away. 

Yesterday when we arrived in Nunavik we were welcomed with open arms.  Many participants are starting to feel the effect of being on a ship on the Hudson Strait.  But thankfully I am feeling great thanks to sea bands!  My goal for this trip is to keep a positive attitude even when things get rough.  It is so cold on the ship. The Arctic air is freezing from the icy waters that are below us. Our days are very busy, and cold. So far, the scenery has taken my breath away. 

The key to this trip is flexibility. Due to rough waterways, we are changed our plans for this afternoon because it is too rough and foggy for the Zodiacs. We have seen four polar bears, many birds, a whale, and a seal so far. This afternoon I also saw my first iceberg close up which was incredible.

Hi Mom, Dad, and Loral, and to everyone that is following the journey virtually.  The Arctic has been amazing and I know that we have not even touched the best part so far. Have a great Civic Holiday Weekend, hopefully the weather is great! It was 11 degrees in Nunavik yesterday. However, it is much colder with the wind and salty spray coming off of the ocean right now. This afternoon will be another great experience as we do some exploring on zodiacs to Resolution Island, a place that Students on Ice has never been. 

Randi Karstad - Staff
Strong NE winds in the Hudson straight today forced us to change course and aim for Resolution Island instead of the bird colonies at the exposed Hantzch Island. The swells this morning were a rough start for many, and we were busy collecting and distributing puking bags for a little while. By lunch time most of us were up and about in time for another amazing lecture. One of the ornithologists on board, Garry Donaldson, introduced us to the arctic birds in the area. In the Hudson Strait we spotted one long-tailed jaeger, there were plenty of black guillemots, stocky and round birds. They flap so hard and fast to keep moving that you wonder how they can go so far away from shore.  n most abundance were the kittiwakes, the charming little gull bird, called “krykkje” in Norwegian. Joshua, our Inuit elder on board calls it “tiratirak.“ Does the name in all three languages refer to the sound it makes in its call?

First sight of polar bears today, what a view! Mommy with two cubs took off from the water and climbed up the rocky slope and onto a snow patch before disappearing behind a boulder and out of sight. A small whale played at the bow as we entered the quiet waters of Resolution Island. By mid-afternoon the islands were shrouded in mythical fog, creating the perfect scenery for imaginary minds. This place hides so many secrets, what will it reveal for us tomorrow?

Shane McNamara - Student
Today I experienced what I consider the most grueling ship ride I have yet to experience.  As I stepped foot out of my cabin, a churning feeling in my stomach crippled my body, and I became one of the many victims to sea sickness.  Unfortunately I was unable to attend the lectures and events which were planned for the day, but I had many experiences nonetheless.  I spent the majority of my time at the make-shift infirmary along with the other fallen shipmates where we shared many funny stories.  As Joshua had explained to us, it was all part of the human experience.  After going through the rigorous test to acquire my sea legs the day only seemed to get better. 

Tanya Taggart-Hodge - Student
It is sometimes hard to understand the depth and the meaning in the word “travel”.  However, as I stood out on the deck for the first time yesterday, I found myself astounded to realize we had been in Ottawa just that morning. Throughout the day, we experienced flying over Nunavik, spending some time in the northern town of Kuujjuaq, meeting the people of Kuujjuaq (and learning the word “Nakurmik” Thank you), and setting foot in a Zodiac for the first time. As I was not part of the first ones to head over to the ship, I took the opportunity to explore the shores of the beach and admire the amazing rocks: a combination of black, white and grays forming what seemed like thousands of miniature crystals. One could feel the electricity in the air and the excitement in the group as we, one by one, climbed the ladder of the ship and began this adventure together. As I rested my head on my pillow at the end of the day, I was amazed yet comforted to hear the sound of the sea, clearly speaking to me through my dreams. Having been pleasantly surprised by the luxury of the boat, the tasty food, and the experienced Russian crew (yes we are learning some Russian as well!) upon our arrival yesterday, we felt things would only get better. However, standing up this morning and feeling the jolt of the boat as we tried to steady ourselves on board was a different story. Sea sickness has kicked in and seems to have affected at least half of us (including myself) forming the club of “horizontals” and has in fact inspired our musician Ian to write a song about it:(hurling, spewing, lord won’t you leave me alone, hurling, spewing, talking to god on the big white phone…) Who would have known Hudson’s Strait would lead to such inspirations…

Jushua has many stories to tell about this land.
Photo by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

Tina Kieffer - Staff
Hello from the ship! Yesterday, we landed at the Kuujjuaq Airport. The enormity and reality of this trip finally sank in and tears came to my eyes (and in fact trickled down my face) as I looked around me. The landscape, although different from home, there were some aspects of the familiar. Upon walking from the airport to the Community Centre, where we were so warmly received, I happened to look along the side of the road. There were “horsetails” (equisetum of some species, that is my guess) and it reminded me of the fossil stories of calamites we share with visitors at the New Brunswick Museum. My first contact with the northern wildlife happened just outside the airport, when a LARGE mosquito landed on my left hand; mind you it wasn’t the only one to introduce itself to me during my time here.

After a stroll though Kuujjuaq and a visit to the local post office to mail a postcard (a great souvenir that will arrive home before I do (thanks Sam K. for that idea), we made our way to the beach. It was time to get both ourselves and our luggage to the ship. The Zodiac ride was awesome – rugged, free and invigorating! After settling into our life aboard the ship, some great presentations, my sea legs had not yet arrived. Feeling less than steady from a GI standpoint, it was time to go to sleep. Feeling more human, and in fact rested at 3:46am, I decided to get up and look out my porthole. The window was splashed with water but amazingly, at this hour it was light out (not a fully blown blue sky sunny day but an overcast brightness). As it was a little too early to venture out, I slept in until 5:30 when it was time to unpack and go out on deck. Needless to say, I had no trouble finding room to walk around. Looking out over the water I tried to take in the view and to look for anything and everything. The waves were cresting and the swells were deep but luckily Gravol made my world a more stable place. I was soon joined by a Liz and together we enjoyed the view. Then the most unexpected thing came into view, an iceberg. It was my very first sighting and it was shared with a friend. It has been a great day.

Stay tuned for more adventure!

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Natural Heritage Building
1740 chemin Pink
Gatineau, QC J9J 3N7 CANADA