STUDENTS ON ICE EXPEDITIONS | Natural Heritage Building | 1740 chemin Pink | Gatineau, QC J9J 3N7 CANADA | 1-866-336-6423


International Polar Year

August 2, 2009

11:17 a.m. Update

Students pose on the deck of the Lyubov Orlova
Photo by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

Click Above to watch "Ice Ice Baby"

On the bridge of the Lyubov Orlova
Photo by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

9:18 a.m. Update

Good morning! We have just heard from our Expedition Leader Geoff Green who is reporting to us from the Davis Strait about 100 miles off the coast of Baffin Island.

Click here to see the ship's location at 06:47 am this morning.

Students get to know the Lyubov Orlova
Photos by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

They are encountering a good amount of sea ice presently. Lots of icebergs, and plenty of sea ice coverage. This is all old ice that is being kept along the Baffin Island coast because of strong 15 knot winds that are coming from the east.

Click here to see an ice chart of the eastern side of Baffin Island.
The letters and numbers on the chart indicate the sea ice coverage. The darker the colour, the more ice coverage there is on the water. ("Red" means that 90% of the water is covered with ice.)

All this means that we are taking the scenic, icy route to Pangnirtung. Instead of arriving today, we will be there tomorrow to visit the community and plan for our hike to the Arctic Circle in Auyuittuq National Park on August 4.

A pod group gathers in the lounge of the Lyubov Orlova
Photo by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

Student Alicia Vanin examines one of the bottles for the bottle drop project
Photo by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

Evening Update:

The team had a fantastic day in the ice today. Once out of the Hudson Strait - with the waters smooth at last - those who were feeling a tad queasy emerged from the bowels of the ship to enjoy the sun and sites of beautiful Cumberland Sound.

Student Jeremia Amarualik enjoys a view of a sunset on the deck of the Lyubov Orlova
Photo by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

This afternoon, as they navigated through heavy pack ice at the mouth of Cumberland Sound, the students saw hundreds of towering icebergs, seabirds and we are told -- whales! Students spent the afternoon out on deck or inside the ship involved with workshops.

Tomorrow morning, the team will visit beautiful Kekerten Island - followed by a community visit to the hamlet of Pangnirtung.

Student Tara Saber-Khiabani writes in her journal
Photo by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

Elise Jackson - Student
Cumberland Sound (or thereabouts)

Another fabulous day in the beautiful Arctic. Fortunately, the seas calmed down overnight, so everyone was feeling much better than yesterday, and we were all able to really enjoy the day. I think we were meant to be landing at Pangnirtung today but due to the large amount of ice we had to take a detour, so won’t land until tomorrow (fingers crossed). So we just spent a day on the ship. After our usual wake-up call at 7:30 a.m., and a wonderful breakfast -- it was great to feel like eating again -- we headed to our first lecture for the day: Arctic plants, by Julian. Once again, we all learned so much. We then had an hour in which to reflect on our experiences, either by journaling, reading, writing or doing art, and I chose to spend the time getting my journal up to date. After that, we got into our pod teams, and got to know each other a bit better, and took some time to discuss our goals for the expedition, and how we plan to achieve them. We also wrote our messages for the bottle drop which, for those who don’t know, is a scientific experiment which aims to track the ocean currents. People drop bottles into the ocean, record the time and place, and they are carried by the currents until someone picks them up, and submits the time and place where they found them.

After lunch, there was an announcement saying that an iceberg was coming up ahead of us. We all grabbed our coats and rushed outside to see it. It was incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so majestic and awe-inspiring. The fog had cleared (finally) and the sun was shining on it. It was just amazing. We saw an iceberg yesterday, but it was just the sheer magnitude of this one that made it so amazing. It’s just so peaceful and serene here -- a huge expanse of sky and sea stretching out as far as the eye can see. We spent some time outside and then went off to our first workshop of the afternoon. Once again we had several choices: art, music, traditional Inuit games, photography and bird surveying. I chose to go to the art workshop and began an oil painting of the iceberg from earlier. We had wanted to paint from the surrounding, but the fog had set in again and there was very little to paint.

After that, we had another lecture from Richard about marine animals, specifically whales. Once again, a very informative lecture. Afterwards, we began our bottle drop with pod teams one and two dropping theirs into the ocean. Unfortunately I’m in group eight (out of eight) so I’ve got a little while until it’s my turn. We then had an impromptu workshop, and I chose to go to David Gray’s one on bones and skin where we learned a lot about the Arctic animals. We had dinner, and now I’m writing this journal, before we have recap and briefing and head off to bed.

This has been such an amazing experience so far, and I know that it will just continue to get better each day. I have learnt so much, and I know that the educators still have so much to share with us. I’ve met so many amazing people, and the things so many of them have accomplished already in their lives just inspires me to make a difference myself, in whatever way I can. I’m looking forward to coming back and sharing everything I’ve learned with people at home.

I’ve just been told that there is a beautiful sunset outside, so I’m going to go out and see that. Sorry to everyone for the delay in starting my journals, but it’s been so busy, and I was too sick to write yesterday. I’ll try and write everyday from now on.

Until then!

Student Zuneza Cove throws a bottle overboard for the bottle drift project
Photo by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

Janet Waldon - Staff
6:30 AM  An early morning for me today, only by choice!  Quiet time to myself seems precious the last day or so and after so many extroverted exercises in getting to know our staff, students and crew – I am craving this bit of solitude.  It is peacefully quiet as people begin to stir and to circulate on decks and in the lounge and tech room. Although Geoff tells us we will be moving into large masses of ice today, the waters are still clear where we are now. The ship continues the constant deep rolling motion and although I personally feel fine, I know others are still struggling to find their sea-legs.

My goal today is to connect with Mariane and to work with her on some media interview techniques; what an opportunity to have her aboard! We spent some time in conversation yesterday – her job rivals mine in variety; if I ever need another career I would consider hers in a heartbeat!

My head dances between the two issues that hang in the air everyday here.  We delight and marvel in the scenery that surrounds us and we talk and ponder the future of a global community that continues to be so shortsighted in caring for this environment and beyond.  It does hit home here.  Hardly is this the “wasteland” people consider the north to be.  It may be perceived as vast, static and empty – nothing could be farther from the truth. Conversations around me are scattered and I sense a shift from just “seeing the sights” to “setting a sight” - brainstorming how things might translate from this experience to something elsewhere. For now I am content to listen, to ponder the same myself; it seems too early yet for me to have any idea where this will go!  Museum school classes have crossed my mind… wondering what would catch their imaginations and creativity. I have a new appreciation for the community of curatorial staff that spend seasons in the field. And I continue to find enormous respect for the youth around me – their passion is obvious and individually they seem to be seeking a “hook” to call their own. Many have obviously found their niche – others diligently are still trolling ideas and possibilities. It’s my privilege to listen and watch.

Student Jack Krantz bundles up to keep warm
Photo by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

Éveline Arpin - Étudiante
(en route vers Cumberland Sound)

Si seulement il existait des mots permettant d’exprimer avec exactitude toute la splendeur de cette aventure. Les journées à bord du navire sont ponctuées d’activités de toutes sortes variant au gré des événements et de l’humeur de Mère Nature. La gratitude de cette dernière a été telle qu’aujourd’hui l’épais brouillard qui pesait depuis quelques jours s’est dissipé l’instant de nous laisser contempler l’horizon et le majestueux iceberg qui se dressait fièrement à quelques mètres de nous. Tout en poursuivant de plus belle notre route vers le Nord, nous eurent le privilège d’être initié à de véritables jeux Inuits favorisant la fraternisation et les rapprochements amicaux. Le souvenir le plus marquant de cette journée demeure cependant la mise à l’eau de bouteilles scellées contenant un message qui sera découvert, enfin nous l’espérons, par un riverin d’une des côtes bordant l’océan Arctique. Je ne saurais vous décrire la beauté de ce que nous offre la nature à cette extrémité du monde qu’est le pôle Nord, mais je peux vous assurer qu’un sourire est perceptible sur chacun des visages en regard au privilège que nous avons de nous trouver où nous sommes aujourd’hui.

Jenna Gall - Student
It is only 10:00 a.m. right now and the day has already been such a great success. I was up at 6:00 a.m. and in the lecture room with the new Yoga group. Everyone was really enthusiastic about the day. Dominique started with some stretching and sun salutation and then I led the poses. It was such a blast and I think we all really needed that. It got me awake and ready for the day ahead and I feel much more centered and my mind is clear and ready for another great day in the Arctic.

Yesterday afternoon we headed out in the Zodiacs around Resolution Island. We had stopped in the beautiful Acadia Cove and went touring around the beautiful rock and ice bergs. We even drank water from an iceberg that had floated over all the way from Greenland. My jaw dropped as we toured past a beautiful waterfall with flowers all around the shore. I was amazed by the size of the cliffs, caves and rocky mountain range all around us. I was absolutely mesmerized by the way the mountains had just appeared out of the water. I got to see a Minke whale today and many people saw polar bears as well. The birds here are absolutely beautiful and if my mom ever went on a trip here I am almost certain she would quit her job and come study the gorgeous birds here. The sights and the good times were incredible!

After supper last night we all headed to the lecture room for a recap and briefing. When we are all in the room together, I feel like one big family because we share stories and laughs from the day and everyone is just at an all time height in mood from the day’s sightings. We have changed our course slightly due to the ice conditions here, we had to go around a bunch of ice. I think it is so exciting to not know exactly where we are going or what we may be doing! It keeps us all in great suspense and excitement. The sun is shining and we are now passing through a lot of ice, so I am going to head to the bow of the ship and take some more great pictures!

Student Shane McNamara from Narragansett, Rhode Island, USA
Photo by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

Florence Albert - Étudiante
Je ne savais pas encore à quel point la journée d’hier allait être mouvementée (littéralement dans certains cas) lorsque je me réveillai dans ma cabine du troisième étage. Je décidai de monter sur le pont pour avoir une vue d’ensemble mais entre notre départ et le moment où je posai le pied dehors, la température avait nettement changé et comme vous pouvez l’imaginer, elle ne s’était pas accrue. Après m’être un peu mieux couverte, je remontai tout en haut et là... j’ai eu  l’impression d’être un peu sur un bateau fantôme car tout autour du Lybov Orlova, un épais brouillard embrassait l’eau empêchant toute visibilité à partir de trente mètres dans toutes les directions. Cette impression s’est encore accrue le soir lorsque la lumière de la proue éclairait le brouillard, conférant à l’ensemble les allures d’un monde irréel. Les vagues ne manquaient pas à l’appel et j’allai découvrir qu’une grande partie des personnes à bord en étaient très conscientes.

 En me dirigeant vers la salle du restaurant, les lignes droites n’étaient pas droites mais je ne fus pas la seule dans ce cas. Nous marchions tous comme si nous étions saouls. Mais de nombreuses personnes à bord ne marchaient plus du tout, elles passaient leur journée à l’horizontale ou en tête à tête avec les toilettes.  Ayant prévu initialement de nous rendre à Hantzch Island, nous avons changé de cap pour Resolution Island à cause des conditions. En entrant dans l’abri procuré par l’île, nous avons aperçu nos premiers icebergs, une baleine (minke whale) et quelques personnes ont vu un ours polaire et ses petits. Après les activités, nous sommes allés sur les zodiacs toucher les icebergs et regarder les colonies d’oiseaux (des kittiwakes) de plus près. Aujourd’hui, nous ne pourrons pas aller directement à Pangnirtung car la glace trop épaisse nous en empêche. Cependant nous allons tenter de la contourner et passer par un étroit passage s’il existe encore. Comme le rappelle toujours Geoff, «flexibility is the key!» 

Jenny Donovan - Student
Davis Strait

I’m coming in to write (with frozen fingers) after witnessing a gorgeous sunset on what has been a great day at sea!  My sea legs have set in and I got to eat three amazing meals!!  Today we had two lectures, Arctic plants and Arctic whales.  We saw a HUGE Iceberg from the bow of the ship and it was so spectacular.  The blue under the water at the foot of the berg can not be justified by pictures or duplicated by any artificial means.  The most amazing colour I have ever seen.  I tried to do a painting of it which turned out pretty well, always thinking of Grandma’s paintings as inspiration.  Off to the briefing now! Lots of love!! 

John Crump - Staff
We saw our first sunset of the trip tonight over Cape Mercy, the still distant north shore of Cumberland Sound. As the sun sank lower, a golden light washed the sea revealing a field of scattered ice. We have been thinking about this ice since we began the journey and seen it on the charts that mysteriously appear at our evening briefings. The colours on the chart translate into different densities, most of which are more than a match for the Lyubov Orlova. Yet we have pressed on and as I write it looks like we will make it into the Sound. Tomorrow, we hope to land at Kekerten Island and journey on to Pangnirtung. But for now my mind is filled with the golden evening light and the sound of excited students on the bow applauding as the sun finally vanished into the Arctic dusk.

Expedition Leader Geoff Green help student Sarah Hennekens to board his Zodiac
Photo by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

Laurissa Christie - Student
What a fantastic day!  This morning we awoke to yet another day at rough seas.  Thank goodness everyone is feeling much better than yesterday.  This morning, we were divided into our pod teams, a group that is used for reflection.  We have also started the Bottle Drop, a scientific research experiment.  We are throwing the bottles overboard hoping that people on shore will find them, and contact us.  In the bottle we also included information about our expedition and our e-mail addresses.  We have had plenty of on-deck time to soak in some of the most spectacular scenery on earth.  I love spending time on deck. 

This afternoon, we saw more icebergs.  They were huge!!!!   The captain circled around the iceberg for us.  The water beneath them is crystal clear blue.  This afternoon, we also saw the sun for the first time!!!  I think everyone is seeing the effects of global warming.  This afternoon after seeing the first iceberg, and hundreds of smaller ones, when we go home we will think a lot more about the environment and our impact.  It was very clear…the perfect day to go whale watching.  I have not seen a whale yet, but there will still be plenty of opportunities.  The air in the Arctic is much different then that of Ontario.  It is very cold and fresh.  Tonight we are hoping to go on the zodiacs and do some exploring.   The days are going by so fast, we will be home before we know it. One of the things that we as a team are trying to make meaning of is the Students on Ice slogan:  ”Protect the Poles, Protect the Planet.”  What does this mean?  What can we do?

Susan Nanthasit - Student
First journal entry and I just don’t know where to start. It’s only the fifth day but we’ve been so active. So I guess I’ll just start from the beginning.

Arriving in Ottawa had its rough patches. A thunderstorm delayed the landing and many of the other students and staff had delayed or cancelled flights. Apart from the humidity and jet lag, it was fun to meet everyone at the Carleton University.

The next day we had a chance to really explore Ottawa and got a behind the scenes tour of the National Heritage Building in Gatineau.

On the third day we finally left for Kuujjuaq. Even though we had to wake up at five in the morning, I was still very excited but probably not showing it in those hours. We were welcomed into Kuujjuaq by their mayor and even received a town tour, where I purchased some souvenirs.

Around four in the afternoon we started boarding the zodiacs for the first time to board the ship. A fairly bumpy ride but what else would you expect.

The first night on the ship was probably the best sleep I ever had, which was rudely interrupted with a slight feeling of motion sickness in the morning. But I was still able to stumble my way on deck and take some pictures when we reached Resolution Island.  Before we anchored down, we got to choose one out of five workshops to participate in. I chose stencil art which was being taught by Jolly. The colors bring a touch of life to your sketches. Although I’m not finished, I’ll be sure to try and post it up when I’m done. I’m no artist but I’m drawing an ice berg.

Now, the exciting part of yesterday, wildlife spottings! Birds flew around our ship, but they were so fast. But when we were anchored and looking on and around Resolution Island a Minke whale and polar bears were seen! The whale only popped up a little bit and seemed sort of shy. Although I didn’t see the polar bears with my own eyes, I was told of them. There was a momma bear with her two cubs, and a male bear following.

Yesterday was also the first time we went on a Zodiac excursion. The waters were so clear and the land looked positively peaceful. There was a cliff full of arctic birds, but the names of the different species escape me. For the last part of our Zodiac exploration, we went right up close and personal with an iceberg. As we were approaching the slightly blue mass, a seal heard us and slid into the water.  We touched the iceberg and I took plenty of pictures. I distinctively remember that as we were going back towards the ship, the seal kept popping its head out to watch us. Probably to make sure he could go back to his original spot without us there.

When we returned to the ship, the seasickness that everyone had been feeling was lifted. Everyone looked like they were enjoying themselves more. We had an IPY presentation from Jenny; I think everyone should really check out Cruise Cruise Baby whenever they can.

The people are great, the ship is rolling side to side, the scenery is amazing and the wildlife is fascinating. With a combination like this, I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring.

Student Bilaal Rajan participates in the bottle drift ocean current research project
Photo by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

Mike Jensen - Staff
Day 6 Traveling to Cumberland Sound

The sea ice has affected our travel plans greatly. The plan for today was to sweep into Cumberland Sound and the community of Pangnirtung. But the dense ice has forced us to move a bit east past Frobisher Bay and try to find a thin passage between the ice into Pang. With luck, that will be tomorrow.

In the meantime, our education continues into what’s being called Polar Fundamentals. Already we’ve learned about oceanography, Arctic birds and this morning we learned about Arctic plants with Dr. Julian Starr of the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa. These sessions give everyone an overview of what to expect as we make landing in some of the remote locations and communities.

My seasickness has diminished for the most part. I still feel the occasional twinge, but not nearly as bad as yesterday. I’m not sure if that’s a result of the calmer seas, or if my body is getting acclimated to the yaw and pitch of the ship. Either way, I’m grateful.

Today was also the first day of our Pod teams. These are groups of 7 or 8 students with 2 or 3 staff with the intention of creating more intimate group discussion, activities and interaction. I’ve got a great group of 7 students including Tara, Laurissa, Bryan, Eden, Bilaal, Collin and Chelsea. Already we’ve chosen our name – the Arctic Amuqaqs (Wolves). I anticipate lots of fun with this group.

Although this was an unanticipated day at sea, it was not without its wonders. We saw our first iceberg close up today, and for the very first time since arriving, we saw the Sun. It caused a lot of excitement, bringing almost everyone out on deck for some midday warmth. And even though a fog rolled in during the afternoon, it managed to clear in time to give us a beautiful sunset, a gorgeous orange moon and even Jupiter. Got a chance to do some astronomy.

As mentioned, the plan for tomorrow is to slip into Cumberland Sound. With a bit of a luck, we’ll check out Kekerten Island, an historic whaling station, before our much-anticipated visit to Pangnirtung. But after that, the news seems disappointing. The ice is so thick along the eastern Baffin coast that it is unlikely we will make it farther north to Clyde River and Isabella Bay. As unfortunate as that seems, I’m reminded of a quote by Henry Miller: “One’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things.” I wonder how I will look at our next destination, wherever that should be…

Stay tuned for more adventure!

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