August 9, 2010

Expedition Update

It’s an early morning as usual and the M.V. Orlova rests off shore of Cape Wolstenholme and Digges Island where the expedition team will be spending the majority of their day today engaged in numerous presentations and workshops culminating with more Arctic exploration by zodiac and on foot.


Breakfast today will be followed by a presentation on Arctic birds by Garry Donaldson, familiarizing the students with many species of birds which inhabit the Arctic during the year from the more permanent species to the many migratory birds (some of which will travel from the north to south pole every year) and their habits, from feeding to mating and nesting as well as how they can be identified.


After the presentation, students will break off into groups to attend a number of workshops including bird survey techniques, photography, journal keeping, art, skin and bones, processing and analyzing samples, GPS and how to use GPS units, navigation, and journalism and interviews, many of which are continuations from previous workshops, allowing students to expand on what they have already learned and continue to work on personal projects or delve into something new and expand their knowledge of a new subject.


Following the workshops the students will reassemble for a presentation on the Northwest Passage which runs on the north side of Baffin Island and above the northern shore of Northwestern Canada through the Arctic Circle. The passage itself is a fairly significant stretch of the Arctic sea and has much historic significance to the region, having hosted numerous expeditions throughout the years of Arctic exploration.


The students will then enjoy a hearty lunch in preparation for their zodiac cruises, landings and hiking throughout the afternoon. The students will be able to enjoy a hands-on colony experience led by Garry Donaldson. The island is home to numerous species of birds and is said to be the place where European explorers first made contact with the Inuit.


Once the landings have wrapped up and the students have returned aboard the ship they will have an opportunity to discuss and reflect on all that they saw, experienced and learned today over dinner with their fellow expeditioners.


The evening will wrap up with an after dinner presentation on “The Secrets of Polar Travel” by Matty McNair, discussing ways to safely and effectively traverse the arctic seas and tundra, as well as some of the history of travel in the area.


The team will then go over their group evening recap discussing valuable things they learned today and any exciting counters they might have had before turning in for the night.

Last night we received a large number of student journals and photos from the previous days sent to us from the expedition team so be sure to check previous days to see if there is any new content you may have missed!

Follow the expedition by clicking the spot logo below!

Student Journals and Photos by Lee Narraway:

Tyandreas Butler

Digges Island 

Today is my birthday!!! Since the first day that I arrived in Ottawa and met Reike, I have been shown so much hospitality. I have been on three separate landings such as Diana Island, Douglas Harbor, and today Digges Island. Ottawa was such a beautiful place, but entering into the coveted Northwest Passage, I have seen both obvious and subtle beauty. In conquering fear, weakness, and laziness, I have also stopped to smell the flowers and survey the very ground that I walk on. I appreciate the small things. Having a blast!


Fatin Chowdhury

Digges Island

As the zodiac neared the cliffs of Digges Island, the little white dots splattered all over its face took shape, and started making screeching sounds. With binoculars glued to my eyes, the thick-billed Murres along the cliffs’ edges came into clear view. There’s supposed to be 180 000 pairs of Murres here! As I learned more about these birds and how their migration patterns and food sources are changing due to climate change, I became aware of the unknown ways that climate change can affect the lives of other species in irrevocable ways. After, we went on a 6 km hike to the waterfall, which I hadn’t expected to be that long. But I really enjoyed climbing up and down mountains, finding trails and discovering new plants and berries on my way. As I reached the top and realized the path we had accomplished, I wondered how small we really were. Atop the edge of the cliff, we were a tiny speck in the grand scheme of things. Yet, our actions have consequences which have the potential to alter the complex chemistry of the planet and make it inhabitable for us.


Ingrid Skjoldvaer

Digges Island 

Today we have spend the day at Digges Island, home to 180 000 pairs of Thick-billed Murres.  The landscape was really stunning with high cliffs, clear lakes and Arctic tundra.  Also, the weather couldn’t have been better.  We hiked all the way to the top of the cliffs. What a view! Garry, the “birdman”, told us all there is to know about the Murres and we got a closer look at the colony. By the way: Did you know that the mosquitoes of the Arctic are attracted to Norwegian visitors named Ingrid? Well they are. I literally have 100 mosquito bites all over my body.  After a few hours of hiking, we headed down to the ocean for a chilly, mosquito-free, zodiac cruise where we got to see the colony from below. I had a great amazing birthday yesterday. You should see the cake I had at dinner! Keywords: Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate! Not to mention the amazing card I also got.

Until tomorrow!


Jacob Swan


Currently we are heading west across the mouth of the Hudson's bay to Walrus Island, but earlier this morning we visited Digges Island, home to a colony of seabirds called Murres. As we awoke this morning, we saw the sheer cliffs of Cape Wilhenhome as well as those of Digges Island. After landing on the beach, we hiked for many kilometers across rocky, lake scattered country until we reached a cliff overlooking a beautiful waterfall as well as many of the seabird nests along the cliff ledges. There our bird enthusiast Garry gave a talk about his favorite subjects, the Murres, and then we headed back to the Zodiacs. Following a cruise below the colony, where I got pooped on, we headed back to ship for an afternoon of presentations on many interesting topics. Goodnight!


Jacqueline Phillips

Digges Island  

Digges Island Haiku

Murres skim shining seas

“Arctic Dreams” are brought to life

Past and present fuse***  

It's difficult to explore Digges Island without contemplating the footsteps that have previously traversed this landscape. In August of 1610, Henry Hudson landed here and likely walked upon the same hilltops as us, scrambled across the same rocks as we did and marveled at the magnificence of 180,000 nesting pairs of murres.

Sunshine made its first appearance on our expedition and stayed with us throughout the day, warming our faces as we trekked across the terrain....and then, at the crest of the hill as we quieted our voices and gazed at the inherent beauty of this place, the cliffs came to life with the calls of seabirds as they dived and played upon the air currents.

A quick glance skyward however, dissolved all sense of timelessness. Contrails streaked across the sky, travelers on their way to destinations unknown, oblivious to the pristine beauty they were so quickly passing over....and I paused to consider what the future might hold for this island, an island at the entrance to the Northwest Passage, an island in the midst of a trade route soon to be plagued by ever-increasing traffic. Economics and politics inevitably transform even the most beautiful of landscapes.

Whose footsteps will tread across Digges Island in another four hundred years?……Will those visitors also share in the same landscapes of Hudson, or are they destined to walk across the empty shell of what once was?   

 ***A special note of thanks to my Tassie inspiration for the copy of "Arctic Dreams" that accompanies me on this expedition. It is my constant companion.


Julie Hanson-Akavak

On Board the Lyubov Orlova


Today I woke up at 5:30am to Niki talking over the P.A system saying “Good morning Students on Ice!” We left the Terry Fox Centre to go to our plane. We did not need to go through security to get on the plane. Two hours later we arrived in Kuujjuaq, WOW that place was so beautiful! Everyone was so welcoming. We had a BBQ at the community centre that was really good. I told the girls from Kuujjuaq that are taking part in this SOI trip that I am going to move there one day. I had such a great day today that Kuujjuaq made me feel a touch of home, and everyone from the town was so nice. Around 4:30pm we started heading down to the beach to launch off into the zodiacs to get to the ship to start our wonderful voyage.


Khloe Heard

North of Mensel Island in Northern Hudson Bay 

Today was quite the adventure! We got to watch hundreds of thousands of thick-billed murres, whom are way cooler than penguins! They have the same look as a penguin but they can fly! They dive up to 200 meters down in the water and they fly at speeds on average of 65 kilometres per hour. We also got to go on a wicked hike! It was quite the grunt up the cliffs of Digges Island but we eventually made it to the top where a spectacular view greeted us! We battled through the swarms of mosquitoes and eventually made it back to the ship!

Another fantastic day in the Arctic!

Andrew Wong

Digges Island 

Moments after waking up, I ran out of my cabin and up to the bow’s deck, staring at the landscape in awe and amazement. What was I looking at? There was a massive rolling fog that was mixing with the sun basked white-strewn cliffs all around me. After breakfast, I boarded the last Zodiac going to Digges Island. There, we toured the high cliffs where hundreds of thousands of thick-billed murres live. Afterward, we had another very memorable landing, where we went on a six kilometre hike up some very steep terrain. I constantly reflected on where I was, and realized that so few people ever get to discover this almost untouched land. I kept hiking and hiking higher and higher up the terrain, as I was determined to get to the elegant waterfall that was on the other side of the island. I was determined to take some long exposure photos of the waterfall too! I’ll share all my photos with you when I return to Burlington! Big day tomorrow at Walrus island to see….guess what? Walrus!


Arctica Cunningham

Sailing away from Digges Island 

We went for our first true hike today. It was truly incredible, although my legs are already shaking! We started the morning at around 8:30 with a zodiac cruise to see the island while half of us (we are divided into two groups, the Polar Bears, and my group the Bowheads) started the hike. The one unique feature about Digges Island, which is impossible to ignore, is the hundreds of thousands of Thick-billed Murres nesting in the cliffs. It was a truly spectacular experience to have birds swooping and diving all around you as they go fishing. Every once in a while, you would see what looked like a black waterfall as a hundred birds or more plunged down from the cliffs and began skimming the waves.  

The fact I found most interesting about Murres is that the young roll off their nesting spots in the cliffs, plunging into the ocean and from that moment on they stick with their dad as they learn to fish and, essentially, survive. We had to be very careful not to get too close, or we could cause all the young birds to roll out, out of fright, before they are ready to leave their nesting spot. After cruising around for probably close to an hour, we landed and shed most of our layers just up from the beach, as it was very hot and sunny! Then we were finally ready to start our hike. We were probably hiking for close to three hours. I was near the back of the pack, as I was too busy taking pictures and soaking up the scenery for hiking! It was a very beautiful hike and very rewarding, as when we got to the top there was this picturesque waterfall waiting for us to look at, as it was in the distance! Garry, our resident bird specialist even caught a Thick-billed Murre for us to look at! We are now having some quiet time, as everyone is very tired. I just can’t wait for the next hike; I am hooked on hiking now!


Carolyn Gibson

 Digges Island                   

What do you do when words like “magical”, “captivating” and “incredible” cannot begin to describe what you see, and when your photos can’t grasp the magnitude of the landscape? I decided that you take your photos so later they will spark the memory of what it was like to sit there and take it all in. There is a feeling that comes when you just sit there, listen and look around. Each time you look around something new catches your eye.          

Today we hiked on Digges Island. We hiked up and up and up. There is something bittersweet about when you hike up. You reach the top and your view is incredible, but yet there is still another ridge that you want to conquer because you know the view will be awesome. That is what we did today. We climbed and climbed until we reached a ridge that looked out over a waterfall and a massive Thick-billed Murre colony. We were so fortunate to have Garry, an Arctic bird specialist with us.          

After we hiked down we boarded the zodiacs for a view from the water. We went right along the rocks and looked up at the thousands of birds. It was really neat to first hike it then zodiac it and see where we have been!

My favourite spot on the ship is on the top deck, where I can view the fog gently hugging the island. I cannot wait for the rest of our expeditions!! 


Carolyn St. Vincent, Hannah Turner, Vera Lo, Uliana Kovaltchouk

Digges Island, Nunavut          

We all knew today was going to be an absolutely fabulous day when we woke up this morning to the absence of used “spuckbeutels”, meaning sickness bags. (There isn't much to do when more than half the expedition team is throwing up, so we embraced the experience by educating ourselves about barf bags!)          

Early this morning, we boarded the Zodiacs and set off to explore the great landscape surrounding our SOI vessel.  As soon as we hopped off onto shore, we immediantly started shedding layers, due to the heat. For hours we trudged through the rugged countryside, squeezing up a steep crevasse, and leaping from boulder to boulder exploring all around us.


As Ty put it "we are not foreigners, we are neighbours". That is exactly how this experience felt to us all. We could all feel the power of the land and the endless energy radiating from the wildlife. It truly was a breathtaking moment when the 'polar bears' group stood just beneath the waterfall and took it all in together. Now that we are fed and hydrated, we sincerely cannot wait to expand our horizons and explore different land masses with our new 'family'.


Carson Hardy

Digges Island 

Last night I was awake until at least one. Ty and I spoke for a very long time after curfew and then I wanted to write in my journal so I was up pretty late.  As bunkmates we bonded quite nicely.  Today, we made a landing with the zodiac on Digges Island.  Digges Island is home to 180,000 mating pairs of Thick-billed Murres. They live on the cliffs right along the ocean.  We hiked a total of six kilometers today to get above the colony where Garry caught a Murre and talked about it. They can dive over 200m deep and hold their breath for five minutes. The mosquitoes were brutal! On the hike I saw many small pools which contained vast amounts of triops. We continued down the slopes and we took a zodiac cruise along the base of the cliffs.  We had another round of workshops and presentations. We had a presentation on the seabirds of the Arctic.  I attended a workshop where we started to design a large banner to explain our experiences and feelings about the Arctic. This will be a project that we continue in our minimal amount of spare time.

Eirik Stein-Andersen

Digges Island 

Hey everyone! Another beautiful day in paradise! Today we woke up to a beautiful sunny morning surrounded by great cliffs. Digges Island has a large bird colony of Thick Billed Mures. With our bird expert Garry in the lead we hiked towards the colony on the picturesque island. During the hike we stopped and took pictures and waved our Norwegian flags! It was a fantastic hike and we found a gigantic colony of Thick Billed Mures. There were birds everywhere! Unfortunately, one pooped on my jacket. After the hike we toured the island and got an even better view of the colony and a waterfall. When we got back to the ship we had a few different workshops. I participated in a workshop with the one and only Peter Mansbridge! During the evening we had a lecture with the Inuit elder on our expedition, David. We learned how to drum dance and we listened to some Inuit stories! It was a great finish to an amazing day.

Loving the Arctic!


Hannah Jacobs


What a spectacular day! We started our day off bright and early with a brilliant hike on Digges Island where we hiked three kilometres along the cliff edge to a thick-billed Murre rookery that had 180 000 pairs of  birds. The sight and sounds of the birds was incredible! After the hike we rode the zodiacs right along the cliff and experienced the rookery from top and bottom. The afternoon was jam packed with workshops and now its curfew.


Kamil Chadirji-Martinez

Hudson Strait, Canada

 Today I visited Digges Island. Today has also been our first day with a clear sky.

Bringing my telescope was a good call, as I observed the Thick-billed Murres from above along with the Glaucous Gulls. I gave the Thick-billed Murres the nickname Arctic Penguins since you could say they are the equivalent. Today, I also tried cloudberries for the first time. They are amazing! I probably ate over fifty even though they are still green, they probably taste even better when they are ripe. They are my new favourite fruit. I also experienced the first cluster of mosquitos on my way back to the zodiacs. The mosquito jacket worked like a charm. Thankfully, the mosquito quantities have been very low or not present throughout the trip. Today, I am also very relieved because I have not vomited since the first day. I think the worst has passed!


Meagan LeMessurier

Digges Island          

Yesterday I didn’t get a chance to write a journal due to the immense amount of activities taking place.  The day began with a visit to Douglas Harbor with the hopes of seeing some caribou and to partake in a workshop.  At the island there were a total of seven workshops; journalism (with Peter Mansbridge), installation art, water science, journal writing, G.P.S use, Arctic issues, and caribou behavior.  I attended the caribou behavior and we were successful in spotting a total of four “bou”. After lunch there were multiple presentations and lectures which were all interesting; however, I feel that the most interesting presentation was left to last, after supper, when Alanna Mitchell (the author of Sea Sick) spoke.  I found her presentation very moving and very informative. Faithful followers, that was yesterday. Today brings a new adventure and we have only just finished lunch.         

The adventure on Digges Island started this morning with our arrival; the fog was starting to burn off from the morning sun and the island looked magical.  A “fog bow” (a rainbow in the fog) was there to greet us with open arms.           

The morning was split into two activities; a hike and a zodiac cruise.  I first participated in the hike (3 hours in total), which consisted of rough tundra terrain and high slopes followed by deep lake valleys.  The view was spectacular with all the Thick- billed Murres (also known as Turbit back home) and a majestic waterfall.           

The hike back was quick as most of it was downhill.  We then boarded the zodiacs to take a cruising tour of the cliffs.  We got up close and personal with the birds and were even able to see some "sea raven" organisms (sea snail cousins) along with some cone jellies.  The day was event-filled and only starting. We now have some down time followed by a couple of presentations.

Stay tuned for further updates tomorrow! Hope everyone home is doing well!


Megan Schlorff

Digges Island, Nunavut

 Today has been a really great day that feels like it has been going on forever.  The days always seem so long in the Arctic  (well I guess there actually is light longer).  Every day is jam packed with activities and presentations. By the end of the day it feels like breakfast was like three days ago and I am always ready for bed. But before today, I must tell about my amazing experience last night. I had the amazing opportunity to see the Northern Lights.  As soon as they announced that they had been spotted, I rushed out on deck to take a look at them. They are so amazing to see in person and no photo comes close to capturing them, so it is important to just stare at the sky and soak it all in. 

Our landing today was at Digges Island.  This island is home to thousands of seabirds.  My group, the bowheads, started off with a zodiac cruise around the island and saw literally thousands of birds.  When we landed we had quite the hike up to the cliff where we could see the birds more clearly. We could also smell the murres. The smell totally reminded me of the chicken barns near my house. 

I saw so many amazing sights and vegetation.  It almost feels unreal walking where so few people have been before, and it is truly a privilege. The hike was great and tired us all out, and really made me realize that I need to do more of them. This afternoon I went to Peter Mansbridge's workshop.  It was so great to hear from such an amazing Canadian.

Moe Qureshi

Digges Island, NunavutDedicated to David the Inuit Elder 

I have never seen more than 200,000 birds on one rock. Well, it was a big rock, but still a lot of birds. I learned so much from Garry, who is an expert on seabirds, and the first thing he told me is that they are much better than penguins. They can fly. And on top of that they can swim over 200 meters underwater, they don’t really swim, they actually fly underwater which is way cooler than penguins!  So many interesting things happened today, but by far, David the Inuit Elder was the best. Even though David talks slowly, he is so passionate and dedicated that you hang on to his every word. He told us some inspiring stories about his childhood and how he has overcome his challenges. He also did some drum dancing for us and allowed the students to participate. I was a master. 

Anyways I am really tired and I am going to enjoy the beautiful wind outside!


Olivia Rempel

 Evans Strait, North Hudson Bay  

The ship was sailing through a thick soup of fog when I arrived on deck this morning. No land was in sight, in fact, nothing beyond the ships railing was visible, and after only minutes of being on deck I was already damp, and so was my camera. Since there was little to see outside, I spent some time in the library, but before long, Geoff announced over the intercom that we were approaching Digges Island, and I rushed outside. 

The fog was beginning to lift; now the island was visible, but still encased in a ring of mist. As the ship sailed onwards, and we approached the island, little dots appeared in the sky. These were Thick-billed Murres, an Arctic sea bird that looked surprisingly like a penguin. Slowly, the fog started dissipating, and the island came into clear view. We dropped anchor and everyone began to get ready for the landing, hike and zodiac tour. 

 When I stepped off the zodiac, the feature that struck me was the vivid greens. With vegetation growth limited to ground level, the land was plump with green mosses and rocks were encrusted with lichens. The sun was beating down on us, and within the first few steps of the hike, I removed two layers of clothing, continuing on in my thermal shirt and long-johns. Once we were over the first ridge I was sweating profusely and regretted not bringing my hat with a brim. Overheating was not a problem I expected to encounter in the Arctic.

Tegan Schellenberg

Digges Island          

The hike this morning was amazing. The view from the top of the thick-billed Murre lined cliffs was spectacular. There is never anything more satisfying as viewing an extreme cliff from beneath in the Zodiacs, and then realizing afterwards that the top of those cliffs is where I will be in a matter of hours. Garry went down one of the cliffs and brought up a Murre (with a small metal type noose that the birds apparently don’t mind) and then we got to view it up close.


It was a lot of fun today on the ship: just writing in my journal, and talking with the people I’ve met. The cold was also mild enough that we were able to sit on deck with T-shirts. I spent more time laughing today than I have in a while. The Arctic is not only a place for serenity, but apparently hysterics.


Nicole Rodriguez-Fierro

Digges Island 

Today was definitely one of the best days of the trip. Though I woke up extremely tired, because of the late curfew due to the beautiful Northern Lights we got to see last night, this morning was unique. The Bowheads got to go on the zodiac cruise around Digges Island for about an hour during which we got to see the rocky landscape and the numerous Thick-billed Murres. The sight was amazing, very different than the Antarctic landscape I saw last winter. After the cruise, we landed on the island and began our long and exhausting hike to the top of the island. I've never hiked in the Arctic before so this was a new, although tiring, amazing experience. The hike up allowed me to see the green nature of the island. Digges Island was covered in moss, grasses, flowers, berries, and many insects. Being from New Orleans, I am used to mosquitoes but I did not expect there to be any in the Arctic. The hike up was very difficult, the terrain was slippery and ever other second I would swat mosquitoes which buzzed everywhere. When I finally reached the top, the view was breathtaking and the long hike up was worth every long minute. We got the chance to see a Thick-billed Murre close up thanks to Garry, who scaled the side of the cliff to catch one. Today’s landing was one that I will remember, for the hard work it took to reach such a beautiful place.

Lavinia Hui

Markham, ON 

Four days ago, I started a journey that I will remember forever. After a quick thirty minute flight, I arrived at Encounters with Canada in Ottawa where I got to meet the other students and expedition staff. I think we were all most excited and anxious to board the flight to Kuujjuaq, Quebec and get on our ship, or what would be our home for two weeks as we travelled around the Arctic. When we arrived in Kuujjuaq, we were greeted by the postive hospitality of the people living there and we were welcomed by a presentation and a banquet. We also got a tour around the area, went on my first Zodiac ride ever, and went on the ship.

The second day on the ship we went through the strong currents of Ungava Bay, which was the start of the "Horizontal Club" again. Mostly everyone got seasick and spent the morning of the day sleeping. However, we saw a video presentation that morning by Matty McNair which was really inspiring.


Art Sateana

Digges Island

Dedicated To: David Siqquauq

Well, today we went to Digges Island and there were 200, 000 pairs of birds. We also did a 6 kilometer walk today with no motor or anything else that runs on fuel. We did this all with our own energy. We had a wonderful evening thanks to David. He let a lot of students try the Inuit Drum and he also let them try a bit of Square Dancing. We learned part of an Inuit song today and a saying. I know this is a night everybody on the ship will never forget.

Love my whole family!

Khloe Heard


Today August 8, 2010 I woke up to calm waters. After a wild day at sea yesterday with many seasick sailors/passengers the calm water was a treat! We dropped anchor in Douglas Harbor and boarded the Zodiac Boats to travel ashore. After a bit of a wet landing (rubber boots were mandatory) we separated into 7 different workshops ranging from art installation to a caribou hunting course to water labs.

I chose to attend the water testing labs. These labs included testing the dissolved oxygen content in the water, the conductivity of the water as well as the pH of it. We also collected rocks from the bottom of the stream and put them in a bag with some water and scrubbed the rock with a toothbrush. This activity took place so we could sample the different types of organisms living in the stream. We took these samples back to the boat for further analysis.

So far on the trip it has been one of the highlights for me. I learned all about stream water, from the different elements present in water as well as how they affect the growth of algae in the water to the dissolved oxygen content in the water.

What got me really excited was the conversation I had with Paul Hamilton, a Phycologist who works at the Canadian Museum of Nature, about the sediment at the bottom of the rivers and ponds in the Arctic. I learned that you could take core samples from the bottom of lakes similarly to core samples you take from trees or ice. These samples are made up of layers, each layer represents one year at the bottom of the lake. Scientists can take samples with up to 10 000 layers a.k.a. 10 000 years of information about the climate, biodiversity and overall health of the ecosystems. These samples are around three and a half meters thick! They start by drilling through the ice (which is up to a few meters thick) then they insert a Livingston Corer into the ground and then push a series of tubes down the corer, these tubes are all part of a collar system. Then they extract the tubes from the ground and store the samples. These samples can show us if it was a good water year, a good mating year and how much the temperature has changed throughout the year.

I think that I found this one of the most exciting things I have learned on the trip because I had no idea that you could tell so much from the sediment on the floor of water bodies.

This expedition even though I have only been on it for not even a week has taught me so much. I have seen extraordinary sights and met some fantastic people. I am so happy that I have been presented with the opportunity to not only experience the Arctic, but to share my experiences with everyone on the ship as well as people in my community and city. I am experiencing the awe-inspiring scenery, a diverse community of people and I am learning more than I ever expected I would.  


Trent Powell


Today we went to Digges Island and went on a Zodiac cruise around the Thick-billed Murres cliffs, which were stained white from years of outdoor plumbing. After the cruise we landed on a rock beach at the bottom of a ravine and hiked all the way to the top. We then spoke about Murres and we caught a Murre right of the cliff. Now we are sailing to Walrus Island.

So long!


Julie Berthou

Digges Island  

Pour la première fois du voyage je me suis réveillée au son du haut-parleur, au son de la voix de Geoff…il faut dire que je m’étais couchée à 24h15 !

Toutefois cela n’a en rien affecté ma motivation et à 8h30 nous avons embarqué pour Digges Island. Dès le début nous avons tous enfilés nos chaussures de marche et nous sommes parties à l’ascension de l’ile.

J’ai particulièrement apprécié au début de pouvoir marcher doucement en observant la végétation et en posant régulièrement des questions à Paul. Mais très vite la marche s’est compliquée. Le soleil, la fatigue, les moustiques…je n’aurai jamais cru pouvoir avoir chaud en manches courtes en arctique ! Le paysage était splendide et, malgré la moustiquaire me couvrant le visage j’ai pu en profiter.Nous avons vu des lacs, des cascades ; et au retour je sentais une véritable union entre les membres de notre équipe, probablement due à la fatigue qui nous poussait à nous entraider pour escalader quelques pentes escarpées.

De retour au zodiac j’étais soulagée de pouvoir enfin ôter ma moustiquaire !Nous sommes alors parties pour un tour en zodiac afin d’observer les oiseaux d’un autre point de vue. J’étais étonnée combine les oiseaux étaient niches en masse sur les rebords des falaises…une peinture en blanc et en noir !

Les oiseaux nous tournaient autour, ils étaient si prés de nous ! J’essayais de les prendre en photo mais ils filaient trop vite…comme le vent.

Très vite mon appareil photo s’est retrouvé avec la batterie à plat. Alors mes yeux sont devenues des cameras et mes souvenirs des photos collés dans l’album de mon cœur! L’âpres midi après avoir dîné j’ai travaillé un peu sur le “Ice Cap” car je devais écrire un article sur Lyubov Orlova, la femme ayant inspiré le nom de notre navire.

Le plus dur n’était pas d’écrire car c’était un plaisir mais de le tapper ensuite à l’ordinateur ! Nous avons cependant bénéficie d’une heure de repos car la plupart étaient fatigués après notre longue marche.Par la suite il y eut une conférence sur les oiseaux de l’Arctique et j’ai appris que ceux que j’avais vus ce matin étaient des guillemots de Brumich.

Ces oiseaux appartiennent à la famille des penguins et se caractérisent par un ventre blanc et les ailes et la tête noire. Ils ont la particularité d’être à un poids limite pour leur permettre de voler en comparaison de l’envergure de leur aile.De ce fait ils ont du mal à rester dans les airs et volent plutôt près de la surface de l’eau.

Nous nous sommes ensuite penchés sur la migration des oiseaux à cause de la nourriture, les risques auxquels ils sont exposés; prédateurs, tempêtes, pollution, changement climatique…Il apparait ainsi que les iles sont des refuges pour les oiseaux et que ces derniers représentent de véritables indicateurs pour nous !J’ai ensuite participé au Workshop sur le fait de tenir un journal de bord avec JR et cela m’a permis de me lancer dans la rédaction d’un nouveau poème et de pouvoir partager avec les autres cette activité quotidienne.

Après le repas David a joué au tambour comme dans les coutumes Inuites et certains ont même pu s’initier a cette activité tandis que d’autres nous chantaient des chants typiques.

La bonne humeur était au rendez-vous et nous nous sommes même mis à danser à la fin.

Finalement après un rapide tour sur le pont pour photographier le coucher de soleil me voici de retour dans ma chambre dans laquelle j’ai l’impression de ne passer qu’en coup de vent pour prendre une veste, mon journal ou mon appareil photo. Mais ce soir j’espère dormir.


Chavaughn Blake

Digges Island

  Today I woke up at 7:00 am to watch the sunset. It was very beautiful!

At 8:30 am I got ready to hike Digges Island. We had to climb this big hill. Never again! We hiked 6 km on the island. We stopped for a while watching Murres fly. There were hundreds of them! I have never seen so many in my life. After watching the Murres fly, we hiked back to the zodiacs to get a closer look. When we were riding the zodiacs to the cliffs where they live, the Murres were flying everywhere, beside us and on top of us. I was hoping they wouldn’t poop on me or hit me while they flew beside us. We also saw some jelly fish, which surprised me as I hadn’t known that they live in the Artic. However, these jelly fish don’t sting.


Eirik Stein-Andersen

Walrus Island, Fisher Strait

Hey everyone! Today we went to Walrus Island and guess what we saw? Walruses! I saw so many walruses; it was like out of a dream. Today was a beautiful day with completely calm seas and a cloudless sky. We started the day off with a lecture on marine biology. It was very interesting learning about how important small animals are in the big picture. At around 11 o’clock we headed off in the zodiacs towards Walrus Island. I was amazed by the size and laziness of these funny looking creatures. We toured around the island, and got to see over a thousand walruses. We even got to see a walrus fall down from a 25-foot cliff. They seemed to crawl so easily off the cliff! After touring the island, the crew filled up the little pool in the stern of the ship. We all went swimming in ice-cold water directly pumped in from the Arctic Ocean. During the later part of the afternoon we got some down time and just took in the beauty of the day. Some of the students played guitar and others violin. Well, it’s pizza for dinner, so I’m going to have to go!

Loving the Arctic!


Marine Riponi


Oui, aujourd’hui il faisait BEAU, oui on voyait le SOLEIL et oui le ciel était BLEU AZUR. C’était magnifique. Mais les moustiques aussi étaient de sortie, et évidemment, le jour où on en avait besoin, j’ai oublié le bug jacket et le produit anti moustique. Nous avons débarqué sur Digges Island, une ile assez difficile et les 6 km que nous avons parcourus étaient parfois très… pentus! Cette journée était très épiques, mais nous avons tous survécu: du plus jeune (Will, 11 ans) au plus vieux (Norm, 81 ans). Le paysage était juste … magnifique. On a surtout observé les oiseaux aujourd’hui, dont 180 000 à 200 000 sur les falaises de l’ile. Une première observation était sur l’ile elle même, et une deuxième quand on était sur les zodiacs pour une “zodiac cruise”. Ces oiseaux portent le nom de “Guillemot de Bruunnich”. On a aussi eu une présentation sur les oiseaux d’Arctique une fois rentré sur le bateau.    

Bien sur, ce qui devait arriver arriva et j’ai perdu mon sac aujourd’hui. Mais ce n’était pas de ma faute du tout !! Heureusement, le deuxième groupe l’a retrouvé, sauvant ainsi mon polaire, mon raincoat et celui de Julie (il faisait tellement chaud que l’on avait enlevé le plus de couche possible). Après la conférence sur les oiseaux, je suis allé au “workshop” sur l’art, et on va faire une bannière sur l’expédition de Students on Ice 2010. I’m very excited!


Aujourd hui, on a vu beaucoup de belles choses, notamment des fleurs qui semblaient avoir des boules de coton sur leurs tiges. En les voyant, Julie a dit “on dirait des larmes d’ange”. Julie est très poétique. On en a parlé et, suite à une métaphore de ma part me comparant à une chèvre car ma gourde teintait contre mon sac en faisant un bruit de grelot et de plus. Nous nous bâtions contre les herbes hautes et les rochers car nous descendions telles de vrais chèvres, bref elle m’a dit que j’étais moi aussi poétique mais rigolote, et que du coup nous nous complétions! On a aussi vu des petits poissons semblables à des escargots avec des petites ailes pour pouvoir nager, appelés “Sea Buterflies”, littéralement papillon de mer. Ici, les méduses sont MAGNIFIQUES !! elles émettent des lumières, un peu comme des spots (Julie les compare à des guirlandes de Noel), de couleurs violettes, rouges, vertes, bleues…  It was really an amazing day !!


Mike Jensen

During last year’s expedition, there was a low point. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every minute of it, as I am with this one. But along the way, one’s energy reserves drop down, the brain turns off and you just want to crawl into your bunk and shut out the world.

In 2009, that point was about 10 or 11 days into the expedition. This year, it was today.

Again, let me assure you, today was overall another good SOI day. We landed on Digges Island, an island that very few people, let alone an SOI expedition, had ever set foot on before. We saw almost a quarter of a million thick-billed murres nesting along majestic cliffs that towered above the Hudson Strait.

Back on the ship, we had an educational and fun series of presentations and workshops ranging from Birds of the Arctic to Working with GPS. The night rounded off in musical fashion with our resident Inuit elder, David Serkoak, leading everyone in traditional drum dancing and our musical “experts” James Raffan and Remy Rodden playing guitar on the bow of our ship with about 50 students swaying back and forth in tune to the music.

So why would today be a low point on the expedition so far?

While on Digges Island, we participated in a hike. This is not unusual at the Geoff Green Center for Weight Loss. I’d participated in many an SOI hike last year, some I couldn’t complete, and most of them ended up so out of breath and weak in the knees that I could barely make it to my bunk. After the expedition was over, I swore I would start living life a bit healthier – more exercise, better eating, etc. with the intention of coming back and conquering the hikes with ease.

Well, the past year hasn’t been as healthy as I would like. Many times I relapsed into an unhealthy meal, or a lazy night in front of the TV. But I’d like to think that I’ve cut back on the unhealthy food, taken a few more walks than before and was, in general, in better shape than before.

So when heading out on today’s hike, I thought for sure it would be no problem. Admittedly, it WAS up a very steep hillside over rocky terrain, trickling streams and spongy tundra to a point overlooking the cliffs of thick-billed murres. But within minutes I realized this wouldn’t be easy. In fact, I knew it would be darn right difficult.

Within half an hour, I came to the conclusion that any gains I had made in the last year were far from enough. My breath was ragged, my muscles aching; sweat pouring out of every inch of my body, mosquitoes by the dozens were swarming around me like vultures circling a soon-to-be corpse.

As I was passed by more and more people coming BACK from the destination point, my stamina (and my spirits) reached a low point. I was far from in shape to conquer the hikes with ease. The Arctic, with its stark beauty and harsh climate, had still conquered me.

By the time I had made it to the zodiacs for the trip back to the ship, I was one of the last few people. And those that were with me were there because they didn’t want to leave me behind. It was not a good feeling, being the reason why everyone was waiting. It’s called Students On Ice, not Mike On Ice.

It was embarrassing, it was exhausting, and it was depressing. As the zodiacs sped back towards the ship, it took everything I could not to break down in tears. I was tapped out, not only physically, but emotionally.

So how do I recover from this low point? In the end, it was the realization that despite the aching muscles, being the last person to make it back, the pure exhaustion I felt… I had made it. There were plenty of opportunities for me to turn back. But I didn’t. I kept pressing on, with each step, until I finally stood on the edge of an 800-metre cliff looking out at the pure elegance of the Arctic at its best.

I may still have a long way to go in my personal journey to live better. But today was a pretty good first step.



Stay Tuned for Further Updates!

© 2010 Students on Ice
All Rights Reserved

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


© 2009 Students on Ice Expeditions
All Rights Reserved

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