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August 13, 2010

                                                   Carolyn on zodiac cruise


Expedition Update


Good morning!

After a busy day of on board activities and presentations, our expedition team is ready to disembark the ship for an icy zodiac cruise! Let the hands-on / experiential learning commence! 

As is customary, the team will start the day with a delicious breakfast in the ship's restaurant. While the team is fueling up, our expedition field team will be fueling up the zodiacs for the journey ahead. Half the team will visit Monumental Island while the other participates in a marine mammal presentation on board the ship. Afterwards, the teams will switch.

After lunch, as the ship relocates to a new location, the students will be able to attend a number of workshops. Today’s workshops include Species at Risk, Sample Collection, Journal Keeping, Art, Music, Growth and Flow of Ice Sheets, Formation of Glacial Valleys, and When Ice Melts -- as well as a presentation on Critical Media Consumption. Phew! As usual, too, students can choose to spend time out on deck or on the bridge of the ship watching the Arctic world go by.

Later in the day, staff will moderate a “Polar Bear Conservation” panel in which students will be invited to discuss potential way to conserve the habitat polar bears, a species at ever-increasing risk as the arctic sees less and less ice each year.  

Following the panel students will be encouraged to complete their “International Year of Youth” presentations to celebrate the power of youth and the beginning of the first International Year of Youth.  

The students will then be treated to presentation on the Arctic and its global connections by John Crump before having a healthy dinner.

After dinner the evening celebration begins! The theme of the day is “Dialogue and Understanding” and students will display their projects and give their presentations to their peers o further the understanding of a variety of topics for everyone on board. It will be a truly engaging learning experience for everyone involved. Once the celebrations have finished the students -- it will be a quick cup of cocoa, some journal writing and lights out!

 

To follow the expedition at Monumental Island click the Spot logo below:

Student Journals / Photos by Lee Narraway:

Ezra Manson
North of Monumental Island

Hi,

Today we took the zodiacs over to Monumental Island. I got to see my first polar bear! In fact I got to see 3 – a mother and her 2 cubs. They were sleeping on a big patch of moss about 100 meters away from us. It was absolutely incredible! Geoff Green, the expedition leader, was driving our zodiac and he took us right up to a massive iceberg. It was rock hard. He explained to us that it had probably broken off of Greenland and the Ocean currents had swept it all the way to Monumental Island.

That’s all for now.

Ezra


Donovan Taplin

These last days have been the ultimate recovery from seasickness. Traveling and landing on Diana Island, Digges Island, Walrus Island (which was so loyal to its name), not to forget a community visit and archeological visit to Cape Doreset. It was this morning, however, when I was totally awed. Along Monumental Island I had the honor of cruising through the swelling waves and tasting the salty spray over my face. It was also during this time that I saw a Polar Bear climb along the craggy inclines of the island with her cub, in addition to seeing three other Polar Bears dispersed in their white husk along the sides of the island. It has been, as most will proclaim, a very lucky Friday the 13th. My stomach is also still in kinks from the incredible evenings over this past week where we saw the Arctic spectacles of the Northern Lights and coming within arm’s reach of an iceberg more immense than our expedition vessel, as well as performing a parody of the staff members with my fellow pod-team members. A wicked ol’ time- to say the least.

 

Alex Taylor videos in scenic location.

Hugh Verrier

Leaving Monumental Island

To anyone who may read this document,

Hello everybody! It is currently reaching 12:00, and we have already done a thousand things. After a 7:00 wake-up (during which we were informed that a Bowhead Whale had surfaced around 6:00), we ate breakfast and prepared to leave on the Zodiacs almost immediately. At around 8:30, our Zodiacs started leaving for Monumental Island, named as a monument to Sir Franklin who perished trying to find the Northwest Passage. Apparently it was used as a major landmark by whalers coming from Greenland. We arrived and almost immediately saw a polar bear, sitting high up on a steep slope. We drove counter-clockwise around the island after everyone had had some time to enjoy the moment, and quickly saw three more polar bears: a large polar bear standing quite picturesquely on a small hill, and a mother with her baby climbing a hill quickly to get out of our reach. After driving further counter-clockwise around the island (and fishing my Students On Ice cap out of the water after a poorly timed blast of wind, thanks to the kindness of Dion, the Zodiac driver), we saw three creamy-yellow polar bear heads drifting in the water. Seeming wary of us and only slightly disgruntled by our intrusion, the three polar bears walked single file out of the water and across the rocky sloping hill and marched up the hill, occasionally stopping to wait for each other and eye us carefully. We also saw the mother with a cub on the other side of the rocky island, before heading off to the ship to board and attend a lecture on plankton and symbiotic relationships. Overall, a good start to a day by any stretch of the imagination, by far.

Nicole Rodriguez-Fierro
Monumental Island

Today has been one amazing day regardless of the fact that it’s Friday the 13th. It is only 10am but my morning was full of icebergs and polar bears. After breakfast I went on a zodiac cruise around Monumental Island with the Bowhead group while the Polar Bear group stayed on ship for a presentation. During the cruise I got to see many icebergs and get close to a massive one. I got to see 4 polar bears and one polar bear cub. It was amazing to see such majestic creatures and it was my first time seeing a polar bear. The cruise itself was a lot of fun because of the swell, which caused the sensation of being on a roller coaster.


Yesterday, though it was a sea day, was a day full of learning and having fun. During workshops I learned a lot about the seal hunt, the Arctic Council, and more about Inuit culture. Then with my pod group, the Natsik Bipods, we put on a farce skit to celebrate the launch of International Year of the Youth. It was a very entertaining night with presentations from every pod group, some relating to the International Year of Youth and others irrelevant but hilarious. I can’t believe we’re half way through the trip, though it seems we’ve been on board the ship for weeks, I don’t want the trip to end.

Marine Riponi

Hier, Geoff a dit “Today is a sea day”, c'est donc ce qu il s'est passé toute la journee d'hier, c'est a dire rien de tres interessant. Sauf le soir, ou on s'est beaucoup mare: en effet, chacun avec nos team deviont faire une petite mise en scene pour ouvrir a notre facon “The Internaional Year of Youth”, qui commencait hier.

Aujourd'hui, ca y est, on les a vu, les POLAR BEARS !!!!!! Certains en ont vu 7, moi je n en ai vu que 3. Au debut ils dormaient, c'etait tellement beau a observer, puis ils se sont reveilles et nous ont observes curieusement. Comme la mer etait houleuse, mes photos sont un peu floues, je me demande ce que ca va donner une fois sur l'ordi. Sinon on a approche un iceberg de pres, j'ai meme pus le toucher! Les nuances de blanc bleu et turquoise etaient magnifiques. Bref, la matinee d'aujourd hui etait super!! L'après midi, a part les presentations, j'ai peint un peu plus la baniere et passé pas mal de temps sur le pont a parler avec Kim. Ce soir, une derniere presentation geopolitique puis un briefing puis… suspens… DODO! Je suis vraiment fatigue en ce moment!

Chantal Bavard

Today we are sailing in the Hudson Strait heading towards Pangnirtung, which is pretty cool because it’s the farthest north I’ve ever been in my whole life. One of the things I really want to see is a polar bear and some beluga whales.

Also, I really miss home. The other day before Peter Mansbridge left to do other things, he talked about some pretty neat stories and one particular question he asked us or he was asked is “What is a Canadian?” I started thinking about it and thought, “Wow, I really can’t think what is a Canadian”. So, I asked my friends and they said the same thing, “I don’t know, I can’t explain it”. So, I thought really hard and said, “Hey, I’m Canadian!”, then I realized we are very self-less, hockey-loving people who apologize too much. Afterwards, I started laughing and said to myself “I’m a proud Dene-Canadian from the North”.                         

Chantal Bavard

 

Estelle Simon

Hudson Strait vers Monumental Island

Hier, c’etait une journee d’ocean. Partout autour de nous, de l’eau a perte de vue. Nous avons passe la journee entier sur le bateau, a ecouter des presentations et a faire des activites. Plutot relax, meme si relax ici c’est la folie! Alyssa est moi avons pris une session de musique avec Remy, le musicien, et nous sommes alles chanter et danser sur le pont superieur avec du soleil plein la tete et les yeux! Remy nous jouait differentes chansons avec sa guitare alors que nous l’ecoutions, le sourrire aux levres. C’etait un super moment. Comme aujourd’hui etait le depart de l’International Year of Youth, nous avons fait un “show” avec differentes representations qui symbolisaient cet evenement. Disons que nous avons bien ri! Et puis le soir est arrive, et ne peut pas dire que la nuit soit vraiment la, puisque vers 11h00 PM il fait encore clair! Nous avons attendu un peu plus longtemps, et nous nous sommes couches sur le pont, les yeux vers les etoiles pour regarder les aurores boreales et les etoiles filantes, puisqu’il parait que c’etait une nuit speciale pour ca!

Ce matin, nous nous sommes reveillees, Alyssa et moi, de bonne heure, comme d’habitude, pour respirer l’air frais du matin, et je peux vous dire que ce matin, l’air etait specialement froid. En fait, nous voguons vers le Nord, ce qui nous a permis de voir de plus en plus d’icebergs. Sur le pont, les yeux encore bouffis, nous avons admire ce spectacle de formes asymetriques perdues dans la brume qui tranquillement, ont commence a refleter les lueurs du soleil elatant sortant des nuages. Et oui! Une autre journee de plein soleil! On aurait dit d’immenses miroirs refletant la lumiere et nous eblouissant par le fait meme.

Je me suis finalement decidee a faire une lessive, et les deux mains dans l’eau en train de laver mes pantalons, j’entends :”Polar Bear!”. A moitie habillee je cours sur le pont,et la, sur la montagne de Monumental Island, je vois mon premier ours polaire! Nous sommes donc partis en zodiacs vers l’ile et nous avons admire cette bete immense qui nous regardait avec ses grands yeux. Nous faisions le tour de l’ile, et voila qu’un autre ours etait perche sur une roche! Et le highlight de tout ca, c’est que nous n’avons pas vu un, ou deux, ou trois, ou quatre, ou cinq, mais SIX OURS POLAIRES! Nous ne pouvions demander mieux! Nous avons meme vu une femelle avec ses deux petits, qui se prelassaient au soleil tout pres de nous. Personne ne parlait, meme nos respirations etaient ralenties. Nous etions sans mot devant ces animaux sauvages qui ne semblaient pas avoir peur de nous du tout. Nous sommes ensuite alles autour d’un immense iceberg, et ca aussi, je dois dire que c’etait genial! Il y avait des chutes et des craques tout autour, et sa structure ressemblait a celle d’une pyramide. Bref, il ne nous reste que les baleines qui manquent a notre tableau!

Bon vent!
Estelle

 

Francis Himiak

Hudson Strait

On the first days I got seasick, but those were lived. But on the 2nd day it wasn’t that bad. Today was very awesome, got to see navigation readings at the bridge with Andrew Wong. Andrew and me were pretty happy we seen the navigation systems. The 2nd officer did the navigation readings today on August 12 2010.

Today I got up at 7:30. I saw five (5) polar bears with the “bowhead team.” And today my zodiac driver was “Pitsulak”…. Pitsulak was a great driver today, but today we didn’t do any landings today (Friday the 13th). So far I am enjoying this trip and I’m probably gonna be back next year. Today we went around Monumental Island.

Mr. Hamilton just showed us a COOL presentation today in the lecture room about phyto plankton, oxygen, and algae and he is a cool biologist.

Sam demonstrates the 2 foot high kick during the Inuit games workshop

Aanchal-Ralhan
Monumental Island

Hey guys!

So today, we had a zodiac landing on Monumental Island and finally got to see polar bears! We saw 7, it was amazing and truly a significant experience for us. We saw a few lone bears standing, almost guarding, the island. We then saw a mother and her 2 cubs swimming and roaming the shore.

Although a supposedly unlucky day, we are having great luck, beautiful weather, polar bear sightings and we even got very close to icebergs! The iceberg we went close to was shaped like a mountain. Surrounding the iceberg, the water was a beautiful, greenish color.

Yesterday while talking to the crew I got the steer the ship and find out that the Lyubov Orlova is coming to St.John's for 3 days, on September 24th! I can't wait to be able to visit the crew again and show you guys the ship!

Miss you,
Aanchal

 

Andrew Wong

Close to Monumental Island

Today was one of those days that is simply indescribable. We started off the day by visiting a dramatic island named Monumental Island. And guess what? We were so fortunate to have seen seven polar bears! Seven! It was the first time in my life seeing so many of these beautiful creatures of the North, up close, in their natural habitat. The entire experience during the morning was absolutely magical. The most special moment for me was seeing a mother and two cubs cooling off in the water and climbing out to the shore. We also got to get really close to a mountain-looking iceberg. Apparently the iceberg stretches below the surface for hundreds of hundreds of metres, and we only got to see what was above the surface! It was absolutely breathtaking. For the rest of the day, we continued traveling, passing iceberg after iceberg of different shapes and sizes that guarded the horizon. Throughout the day, I also attended three captivating presentations about climate change, ocean microbiology, and, in the evening, a presentation titled, “Who owns the Arctic?” by Michael Byers, author of the same title. Anyways, tomorrow is another exciting day! We’re going to Pangnirtung!

 

Arctica Cunningham
Monumental Island

We just got back from a zodiac cruise around Monumental Island. I didn’t see a polar bear; instead I saw seven! It was incredible! Right away we saw one lone polar bear; it looked like he was posing for us on one of the rocks! As we continued our cruise, we saw a mom leading her cub up to the top of the island, and then all of the sudden there was another bear on a rock ledge not 200 feet from us! As we were heading back to the ship we noticed the same mom and cub climbing down the hill on the opposite side as we had seen her. We were all busy getting our cameras when someone noticed a mom and two cubs swimming in the water ahead of us! I would have considered myself lucky to see one polar bear during the entire trip; instead I saw seven on one island! I feel like I just found a pot of gold!

David S plays accordion and gives instruction for Inuit dancing

Carolyn Gibson

Polar bears weigh up to 450kg. They are strong, fast and expert swimmers and divers. They will prey on humans and win the fight. But yet when they are there a few metres away and you are in a zodiac they look like cute fuzzy animals that you want to take home!


Today we had not only the opportunity to get near our first iceberg but also see 5 polar bears on Monumental Island. The iceberg was so beautiful, you could see it underneath the zodiac and the water dripping off of it into the frigid waters of the Arctic Ocean.


Circling Monumental Island was magnificent! The first polar bear we saw was up on a ridge looking out. It was great to get near it, as you could see that one from the ship, so the anticipation was high! Farther down the island there was another lone bear that was walking near the water. It was so freaky how close we got. Thank-you camera zoom for some great photos!
Farther down the island we saw a mother and her two cubs. They are the most gorgeous creatures, the way they move, and the strength that they have. It was the coolest thing!


Of course, once you return to the ship, there is that incredible wind blown heat that radiates off your cheeks for an hour or so indicating that it was a great day, and that it was!

 

Carolyn St. Vincent
Monument Island

Yesturday was the first time it became revelent to me that I am actually in the Arctic. I have never seen a group of young adults so excited to be able to see their own breath when they exhaled, than I did last night. It is amazing to go out on the various decks of the ship and look up at the open sky together. It is especially heart warming when Remy plays his guitar for us and we all link arms and sing along with him. For the past few nights we were even able to see the Northern Lights. It is incredible to witness the bright colors of red, green, and yellow, dance across the sky.


This morning we took a zodiac cruise around the island, in search of polar bears and other wildlife. We were able to find about five polar bears in my particular group. They moved so gracefully around the cliffs and acted as confident models, allowing us to snap our photographs before disappearing into the scenary. I loved watching the bears socialize together as a family, with the father looking after his mate and their young.


I have come to realize just how fortunate I am and how much I take for granted, when I really should be appreciating it. The children from Cape Dorset made me see that I can be whoever I want to be; become whatever I want. My future is not pre-determined and I have the power to persue a career anywhere in the world. I loved when the children ran up to me, holding my hands, and playing with my hair. This trip is allowing me to learn so much about my planet in which I live, about nature and the wildlife, and especially about myself.

 

Carson Hardy,

Monumental Island

Today we started off with a zodiac cruise to Monumental Island where we saw our first polar bears! A mom and her two cubs were sleeping on a small mossy area.  The other zodiacs saw a total of seven bears on this one small island, but my zodiac only saw those three.  This morning was the first day of cold arctic weather.  On this cruise we visited a large iceberg and we got to touch it.  After our cruise we had a presentation on climate change.  So far we have been learning more about the arctic than about climate change, and there is a reason for that.  During a pod meeting it was said that “people who explore, learn and connect with nature become more environmentally aware”.  I believe that we have just finished this process, because we have started to talk about more political views about the arctic.  After this I think we will talk about how we can save it. 

Zodiac cruise among the icebergs.

Hannah Turner
Monumental Island

Over the past couple of days we have done a lot, from swim in the ship’s pool, located on the back deck, to the first polar bear sighting of the trip. Every moment has been amazing. Its been getting colder and we are starting to be able to tell that this is an Arctic expedition and we’re not in Bermuda. We stopped at Cape Dorset, a small community in Nunavut, a couple of days ago. Some of the things we did there I know I will never forget, from attempting the one foot high kick to eating raw seal. The experience was phenomenal. After the day at Cape Dorset, we had our first ‘sea day’ so we didn’t do any landings. Instead, we prepared short presentations with our pod groups about the International Year of the Youth that started yesterday. It was really fun and I enjoyed watching the presentations done by the other groups. Today was great, we got up early and watched a presentation followed by a zodiac cruise around Monument Island, where we saw our first polar bear! Five polar bear sightings later, we are sitting on the ship heading off towards other adventures, and I can’t wait.

 

Lavinia Hui
Monumental Island


It's sad to say that we're closer to the end of trip than the beginning. The first week of the expedition has been incredible and easily the best moments of my life. Today was definitely a highlight of the trip. When we cruised by Monumental Island on our zodiacs we passed by vast, big icebergs, that were so incredibly beautiful. I was happy to see the landscape as it was already but as we cruised by the island, I saw the wondrous polar bears that I had wanted to see all along. I saw four polar bears, two male bears and a mother polar bear and its cub. It was nice to see that they were big and healthy. It was definitey a highlight of the trip. Everyone took many pictures and videos as the polar bears posed beautifully on the island. So far on this expedition, we've seen whales, muskox, birds, walruses, and polar bears. Seeing these unique animals are the reaons why I wanted to come to the Arctic, to learn more about these animals, and learn about how I can help to conserve the wildlife, so future generations can also see the beauty of the Polar Regions. So far this trip has been amazing; I've met lots of new friends, and I have also gained new knowledge for me to take home and teach and inform my community. I can't wait to be able to visit the Arctic Circle, more Inuit communities, and travel on this expedition. It will definitely be sad to leave all the new friends I have made, and the beauty of the Arctic.

 

Meagan LeMessurier

Hi Followers,

              Today was an amazing day.  It started with a visit to Monumental Island, which offered so much visual stimulus.  The groups were given zodiac tours of the island and of icebergs around the island.  Upon touring the island the Bowhead group saw a total of seven polar bear (one mother with two cubs, and the rest were lone males).  I was in the polar bear group and we were only fortunate enough to see the mother and her two cubs.  It was an amazing site with them sleeping up on a ridge on a cliff on the mountain.  The fact that the bears are going through a period of time where their food source will be limited to none and the fact that there will be no sea ice makes you wonder how the bears will do over the next couple of months until their habitat returns. 

              Besides the polar bears the iceberg that we saw was amazing.  I actually got to touch the iceberg since our driver was none other than Geoff Green.  We also got to go into a sea cave on the shoreline of the island.  I really enjoyed today as it felt like the Arctic in the sense that it was much colder out and the seas were a little less calm. 

              Tomorrow should be an adventurous day with a visit to an old whaling station and then onto Pang for the afternoon.

              I will keep you all updated.

Miss And Love Everyone!

 

Inuit drum dancing workshop.

Megan Schlorff

Monumental Island, Nunavut

 

Today I had the amazing opportunity to go on a cruise around Monumental Island.  We started the cruise by circling around an iceberg which was absolutely phenomenal.  The iceberg seemed so large up close and the ice was smooth and carved into different designs.  As we circle Monumental Island we were able to see seven different polar bears.  It was such an incredible experience to be able to see these Canadian creatures up close.  It was even more amazing because it is an opportunity that so many people will not receive and I feel so fortunate to have had the experience.  The highlight was watching a mother walk with her two cubs behind her. 

 

Olivia Rempel,

Davis Strait

Today I saw not one, but six polar bears, and two of them were cubs… Life is fantastic! Unfortunately I have absolutely no time to recap the day in detail. I am currently working hard, helping orchestrate the filming of footage for the International Year of Youth video. I am also currently learning the techniques necessary to write a decent op-ed. As well as representing Iceland in a mock Arctic Council meeting, which may or may not become an ongoing activity. I may be busy, but what matters is that it is all incredibly fun.

Tegan Schellenberg,

Monumental Island

Finally I got to see the Arctic mascot, the polar bear. In fact, I got to see four: two lone males and then a mother with her cub. The sea is not as calm as it has been recently, and the air is finally cold. There was actually a reason to wear three layers, gloves and a toque today. About time. For the rest of this afternoon and tonight, we are heading to Pangnirtung. I can’t wait for another opportunity to look at the Inuit artwork and to perhaps purchase a souvenir. There is no journal workshop today, which is basically all Hannah and I have been doing, so it looks like we have no choice but to expand our horizons. The horror. In any case, I’m sure that everything will be just fine, if not better than that. Onward into the great unknown Arctic!

 

Mother bear and cubs on Monumental Island.

Hannah Jacobs,

Monumental Island

For a supposedly unlucky day our karma has been unbelievable. We started the day off with a zodiac cruise around Monumental Island where we saw five polar bears and dozens of black guillemots. We saw two lone adult male polar bears and a mother with two cubs. Our afternoon is filled with workshops and two presentations but for now it is free time to absorb our surroundings and enjoy some time on deck. It is a gorgeous sunny day so I am going to take full advantage of the weather and head outside!

 

Polar bear family portrait.

Nicolas Taylor

Monumental Island

WOW what a morning, it began with wake up call at 7am, which was followed by an early breakfast. Then at 8:30 the group “The Bowheads” loaded up the zodiacs and went on an hour-long cruise around the island. During our cruise we were lucky enough to get within touching distance of an iceberg. Yet that didn’t come close to what we seen just a few moments later. As we cruised closer to the coast we spotted our first polar bear of the arctic. But that was only the beginning for we would see three more adult polar bears and then one cub. It was an absolutely amazing thing to see with my own eyes in person it blew my mind.

Polar bears.

John Crump

63N 64W

There is no sea ice this summer in this part of the Arctic. Icebergs float south in the currents of Davis Strait. Some ground on shoals, others are caught by the currents of Hudson Strait and head west. Others continue to southern latitudes. This time last year this region was choked with ice that held fast to the coast of Baffin Island. Walrus rested on undulating ice floes. Gulls waited patiently for a polar bear to finish eating a seal so they could claim the remains.

This year the bears are on land because there is no ice, a situation they are increasingly facing as the summer temperatures continue to warm. We saw seven of these magnificent animals on Monumental Island, which was named in honour of Sir John Franklin whose lost expedition was the inspiration for decades of fruitless searching and much exploring. Two were females with one and a pair of cubs respectively. It’s unusual to see two youngsters and we met this family at a distance when they climbed out of the metre-high swells onto the steep rocky shore. They weren’t very concerned by the appearance of four black zodiacs and ambled up the side of the island at a leisurely pace, looking out at us without fear. Polar bears fear nothing. That’s why we stayed in the zodiacs. All except for Alex, our videographer, who was put ashore for a brief time to get some good footage. There was much joking about it being okay to lose a cameraperson to the bears since we have two on the voyage.

 

Mike Jensen

While on expedition, one tends to lose track of time. Not hours and minutes, since activities are planned out to the minute throughout the day. But dates and days of the week tend to get forgotten as the days and nights flash by on the voyage. The only indications of recognizing dates are when someone has a birthday (celebrated with cake and a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday during dinner).

But today, we couldn’t help but notice it was Friday the 13th. Despite the negative connotations of the day, none of us felt unlucky today. First of all, we are lucky enough to get to participate in this amazing expedition. Second, we are lucky to have such an exceptional and diverse group of staff and students to share the experience with.

Thirdly, we are lucky to have all these incredible sights to see along the way – including today’s stop at Monumental Island, right on the corner of Baffin Island. As we prepared to board the zodiacs, our resident mammal expert, Dr. David Gray, just happened to mention that every time he’s visited this island, he’s seen polar bears. Everyone was tingling with excitement at the possibility – to see a polar bear would be a fine notch in the SOI Arctic 10 expedition.

What David neglected to tell us, is that he’s only visited the island twice.

Nevertheless, despite jinxing it by predicting polar bears, we were treated to a sight that we couldn’t have imagined. Not one, not two, but SEVEN polar bears, including three cubs, graced our camera lenses, binoculars and wide eyes as we circled the island in zodiacs.

Last year, I don’t even think we saw seven polar bears on the entire expedition. Admittedly, one of those rare bears last year was chowing down on a seal, so that made up for their lack of numbers. This year, we may not have caught the bears at mealtime, but they still put on a visual feast for us.

Our first sightings were of two solitary bears, which we later determined to be males. They were in good shape and seemed unalarmed as long as we kept our distance. Then we spotted a mama bear and cub make a beeline for the crest of the island. It’s obvious that their main concern was to avoid us.

Then, as we rounded the last corner to head back towards the ship, we spotted another female bears with two cubs swimming near the shore. Without getting too close, we manoeuvred in for a better look. Before long, all three were clamboring up the rocks onto dry land. We continued to watch them for a few more minutes before leaving them in peace.

With that bit of good luck behind us, we continue to make our way to our next destination – the community of Pangnirtung. This is our third northern community visit, and my second visit to Pang, having gone there during last year’s expedition. I’m looking forward to seeing how it has changed and how much is has stayed the same.

Here’s hoping that our good luck continues with some bowhead whale sightings and maybe even a bit more ice to play on…

 

 

 

 

 


 

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