August 10, 2010

Expedition Update

Well yesterday was a spectacular day of presentations, landings and exploring for our Arctic Expedition team. On Digges Island the team was exposed to literally thousands of Arctic seabirds, giant flocks of a number of different species of wild fowl; it was a bird watcher’s paradise. An Expedition 1st was set as the team led by Expedition Staff Garry Donaldson led a hike to the top of the cliffs at Digges to see the birds. The hike itself was extremely difficult but everyone involved was thrilled and exhilarated by what they found at the end.

 Today, due to weather and sea conditions (calm and blue skies...goodbye sea sickness!) we have been able to venture off our set course in search of Walrus Island, a tiny island off the northwestern shore of Coats Island known to be home to hundreds of Walrus (hence the name Walrus Island) which we had previously believed we would be unable to reach. Fortunately for us, after reviewing the weather forecasts and surveying the seas, it seemed that Walrus Island was an experience worth taking a shot at, and setting out from Digges Island yesterday that’s exactly what the expedition team has decided to do. 

What makes this little island so special that we would deviate from our set course just for a chance to visit it? Well here’s a little background information for you to read up on: 

Walrus Island is located at the top of Hudson's Bay, between Southampton Island and Coat's Island. This rocky, little island is home for many a slumbering walrus. In fact, the main concentration of Canadian walrus are found right here in this region. They live here during all seasons, with an estimated summer population of 2000. In the 1950s and 1960s, the walrus population of Foxe Basin and Hudson Bay together was estimated at 8,500. They are still abundant, and can be found as far south as the Belcher Islands. 

The Students will spend the day cruising the beaches by zodiac spotting and learning about Walrus and if we’re lucky, the potential Polar Bear!  Presentations today include Eric Mattson’s “Icebergs and State of the Cryosphere”  lesson, Paul Hamilton’s “Marine Phytoplankton, Oxygen and Algae” and a lesson on the History of Baffin Island by David Gray.  

The students will be able to attend workshops focusing on Species at Risk, Processing and analyzing samples, Journal keeping, Art, Music, Using maps, charts and time on the bridge, “Growth and Flow Ice Sheets” “Formation of Glacial Valleys” “When Ice Melts,” and Critical media consumption.


To Follow the Expedition to Walrus Island click the spot logo below:

Today's satellite view of the Arctic area the team will be travelling through:

Walrus Island is located just above the cloud covered island (Coats Island, Bottom Middle)

 

Student Journals and Photos by Lee Narraway:

Estelle Simon

Walrus Island vers Cape Dorset          

Je pense que cette journée fera partie de mon top 10 des meilleures journées à vie! Je ne peux toujours pas croire ce que nous avons fait et vu. Tout d'abord, Alyssa et moi nous nous sommes réveillées plutôt tôt en espérant voir quelques morses, étant donné l'ile ou nous trouvions. Nous cherchions désespérément avec nos jumelles une tache quelconque, quand David, l'Inuit elder, nous a passé ses jumelles. Et la, on en a vu comme jamais! Nous sommes partis en zodiacs faire le tour de l'ile, assez petite, et des notre approche, nous n'avions pas assez de yeux pour voir tous ses morses se dandiner et se faire griller au soleil. Le bruit était assourdissant, les animaux prévenant les autres de notre présence. Si vous avez déjà vu un morse à la télévision, et bien imaginez le 5 fois plus gros et vous avez la grosseur approximative de ces énormes bêtes. Nous étions tous concentrés à observer l'ile, alors qu'un de ces monstres a surgit de l'eau juste a coté de notre zodiac... WOW! Martine, ma sœur, j'ai pense à toi parce que certains de ces morses étaient roses....! Après quelques  heures après avoir observé et fait le tour de l'ile, nous sommes revenus vers le bateau, émerveillés. Il faut aussi préciser qu'il fait un temps exceptionnel, pas de nuage, juste un soleil plombant et aveuglant. Lorsque nous sommes arrives à bord, le maitre de l'expédition nous a annoncé que nous avions un "pool party"! Parce que oui, nous avons une piscine sur le pont arrière!! Ils ont donc remplis la piscine avec de l'eau provenant de l'Océan Glacé, je précise, et nous pouvions sauter dedans!! Alors, prêtes à tout, Alyssa et moi avons mis nos maillots, et sauter a l'eau en criant comme jamais! Vous pensez que votre piscine est froide... I have some news for you! Nous sommes ressorties aussitôt, et croyez le ou non, nous sommes restées sur le deck, en bikinis, avec nos tuques! C'était tellement vivifiant! En y repensant, je me dis que cette journée est unique en soit, prendre un bain glace et bronzer en bikinis, EN PLEIN MILIEU DE L'ARCTIQUE! Alors la prochaine fois que vous trouvez que 80C pour votre piscine, c'est froid, pensez a nous, les SOI qui avons nage dans de l'eau polaire!

ROARRRRRRRRRRRRRR, comme disent les morses!

P.S. Aujourd'hui, believe it or not, j'ai eu CHAUD!

 

Jacqueline Phillips

Walrus Island 

In the immortal words of John Lennon: “I am the Walrus. Goo goo g’joob.”

 

Zoe Caron

Specialist, Climate Policy & Advocacy  Clear crisp sky. Unbroken satin ocean. Bare rock island. We glide by quietly in the zodiac, as hundreds of walruses own the shores with their becks and calls. Today is ice-free.

We are north of 60 and we are clad in t-shirts, windbreakers, and 50 SPF sunscreen. The walruses roll over to expose their deep pink bellies – coloured by their blood rising to the surface of their skin, a sign of the warmest of body temperatures. 

We share a pair of binoculars, taking turns watching the four-ton males make their way over their friends – sometimes using the force of their tusks, sometimes not – to reach the cool Arctic water. We came up alongside one, a surprisingly graceful mass of flesh performing a ballet through the aquamarine blue. Its bright red eye emerged, acknowledging our presence, deridingly swimming on. 

It is a day for which to be grateful. We are among an elder who, in his 58 years, had not laid eyes on a walrus until today. A woman, who has spent the last two decades in the far north, also saw her first walrus today. And so for those of us for whom this is our first voyage north, it is a miracle of nature that we saw, not one, but hundreds, of these great beings. 

The sun-drenched afternoon was one that you can only wish for – and a fierce reinforcement of the meaning behind our daily efforts. For every individual that dedicates his or her time to conservation, there is a walrus (or a muskox, or a thick-billed murre) that thanks you. They did today. 

 

 

Students bask in the warm sunshine out on deck

Andrew Wong

On the way to Cape Dorset 

Qanuippit! “How are you?” in Inuktitut. Welcome to Walrus Island! Early this morning, our fleet of seven Zodiacs cruised out from the Orlova to this seemingly plain island. As we got closer and circled the island, we saw piles and piles of walruses lying around! I spent time snapping photos but also took time to savour the moment of staring at the thousands of blubbery delights! They fall off cliffs after jousting matches, and slide one by one into the frigid sea sans effort! Observing these beloved animals among others in the Arctic animal kingdom is paramount to gaining a deeper appreciation for nature we must all instil, and thus cementing the need to protect the natural world that we share.    

I must also say that I am really enjoying our daily Zodiac trips since it’s a great time to get out on the water and really feel the surroundings instead of staying inside the ship. It’s all about wind blowing through your hair, and feeling the cold pristine waters running through your hands. Another important note: we’re currently venturing through the Evans Strait. No ice in sight.

 

Daniel Cain-Annahatak

Walrus Island Day 

Today I went swimming in a pool on the ship.  It was cold, salty and loud! We also visited Walrus island. There were so many of them.  There were over 500 walrus on this island. In the zodiac we saw pitsiulak, the bird that Geoff Green is named after.

 

Emily Best

Walrus Island 

Hey everyone! We just arrived at Walrus Island this morning. We hiked 6 kilometers on Digges Island yesterday morning. There were high cliffs and gigantic rocks, the view was amazing and there were so many thick-billed murres. The mosquitoes were huge and there were so many of them! We had a presentation on Arctic birds and then we had some workshops. I went to the workshop about water and the water organisms and we worked with microscopes. After supper we had a presentation by Inuit elder, David. He talked about his life experiences and showed us how to drum dance. The sunset was beautiful and it was still light out at 11:30pm when I went to bed. This morning, we will be driving around the island in the zodiacs to see some walrus. Check back on the page of August 8th – my journal entry from that day should be there now. Missing everyone back home but having a great time! Wish you all were here with me!

 

Paul discusses flower characteristics with a student

Hannah Jacobs

Walrus Island 

Wow, what a day! I have decided to try and not use the words awesome, amazing or spectacular in my entries any more but it is hard. How do you describe a place for which there are no words? We were at Walrus Island today and there really are no words. I was overwhelmed as we came around the island and saw hundreds upon hundreds of walrus basking in the sun on the water carved rocks. I spent hours on deck today in the hot arctic sun. There is something wrong with that sentence isn’t there? Well I guess that is one of the many reasons we are here, to figure out why the climate is changing so fast and what can be done.

 

Hannah Turner

Walrus Island 

The entire trip I’ve been looking forward to seeing a walrus, so as you can imagine, when I discovered that we were going to Walrus Island today, I was over the moon. We got up early and found that the weather was warm and sunny, an excellent day for some walrus sighting if I say so myself. We left on the zodiacs and saw so many walrus’ that my eyes couldn’t even believe it. After zipping around for a while, we saw something that would change my life forever. Suddenly we heard a loud barking noise and turned around just in time to see a three and a half ton walrus tumbling from a cliff that must’ve been thirty feet high. It was okay, but that was definitely the most exciting thing I saw today. I felt really happy today, and I’m not exactly looking forward to going home, because we really are becoming like a family and this expedition is only getting better every day.

 

Ingrid Skjoldvaer

Walrus Island  

What a day! No wind, along with sun from a clear blue sky. Today we have spent the morning hours at Walrus Island in the middle of Hudson Bay. As you might have understood already, the small island was packed with walruses. About 1000 of them were swimming, diving, fighting but mostly they just lay on the bare rocks, tanning and chilling in the nice weather. We cruised around the island in the zodiacs and got a good look at the animals. Our marine mammal expert, Dr. David Gray, told us more about the walruses. Did you know that the walrus mostly feed on clams? They put the clams into their mouths, suck out the inside, spit out the shell and swallow the clams whole. The clams from the walrus' stomachs are actually an Inuit delicacy. Actually I haven't told you about the highlight of the day yet! When we were out zodiac-cruising, we suddenly spotted a huge walrus in mid-air. Some of its less loyal walrus friends had pushed it down a 7 meter tall rock. Imagine a 2 ton fat lump in free fall, crashing into rocks on its way down. Difficult to explain, extremely funny to watch (The walrus was alright and didn't get harmed, apart from being a bit embarrassed). Before lunch we headed out on deck for a pool-party in the nice weather. Almost everybody dove into the ice-cold arctic water.

A little message to everybody that has been trying to reach me since we left Ottawa on the 6th: The phone signals aren't very good here. And the only way we can communicate to the "outer world" is with satellite. I really feel like I'm out in the wilderness!

Gary and students conduct a bird survey

K.T. Irwin

Walrus Island, Fisher Strait  

So far today had been absolutely fantastic. We woke up early as always and all headed outside. Today the weather was gorgeous, sunny, and warm enough to be out on deck in shorts and a T-shirt. Hardly felt like the Arctic!

After some good breakfast and conversation we headed out to do a zodiac tour around Walrus Island. It was amazing to see the walrus lounging on the rocks. There were over a thousand! Although they are extremely ugly it was fascinating to watch them. They swam, fought, slipped down the mountain, and bounced. We observed them from the boats for around an hour and a half, before heading back to the Orvlova.

When we got back we were ushered in to the presentation room (the vomitorium) from a presentation on the cryosphere from Eric. It was really interesting and we learned a lot.           

Next we all changed into our swim suits (some still in their clothes) and headed out to the mini pool on the deck, filled with freezing cold Arctic sea water. I jumped in multiple times, and every time I did it shocked me how cold the water was. It was amazing fun to have everyone gathered around laughing and cheering. From there we headed to dinner, and I had a wonderful meal with Peter Mansbridge, his son, and some other hilarious people.          

And that pretty well brings me to now. I am having the time of my life on this expedition. From the friends I have met, the things I have seen, to the food that I eat; everything is hunky dory! Love this place!

P.S. Love to everyone back home!

 

Kamil Chadirji-Martinez

Hudson Strait, Canada

 

Today was awesome!

We went to Walrus Island. It is a puny and barren island with no visible vegetation. We circumnavigated Walrus Island. It is a rock island and has a very appropriate name.

We saw several walrus, they made the oddest noises and I was able to get a real close look with the telescope. I saw them swimming and sometimes fighting.

So the next awesome part of my day was the pool party. To my surprise a small but deep pool was revealed at the front of the boat. We all took turns diving in it and it was filled with sea water, (very cold and salty), so I did a great big belly flop into the pool.

While bird spotting with Garry Donaldson, a harp seal approached the boat, the water was clear and calm. It got so close I looked it in the eye. It was bigger than me. I'm still mad at myself for not taking a picture of it.

 

Meagan LeMessurier

Walrus Island

 

Hi Followers,

          Today was the most stimulating day in the sense that it not only was visually stimulating but also stimulating for the olfactory and hearing senses.  Walrus Island is named so for the fact that in the warmer summer months when the sea ice melts the walrus decide to conserve energy by basking in the sunlight on the low lying rocks of the island. The reason this sight was so stimulating was for the fact that besides actually seeing the walruses you could also smell them and hear them. The odour of the site was something less than desired and the constant drum was overwhelming. There were hundreds of walruses present on the island; some were white others pink or brown.  It is also worth mentioning that there were walrus pups present on the island. 

          Today also consisted of a dip in the pool (filled with sea water), workshops, presentations, and some down time. I attended the journal writing workshop where I learned how to break out of my school structured writing style and truly just write. I also attended Paul’s lecture on Evolution and the Rapid Change. It was very interesting.

          The day ended with a talk from Peter Mansbridge (it was he and his son Will's, last night with us).  He talked about what it means to others to be Canadian and the perception of Canadians. 

          Just to conclude I feel compelled to tell you all that the weather here was amazing. The seas were calm (clear as glass, not a single ripple), and it was warm enough to wear only one layer of clothing while touring Walrus Island in the zodiacs today. Although to some this may sound nice to me it was worrisome. A few years ago one would not have been able to cruise the shores with only one layer of clothing and they would also have to dodge sea ice to attempt a glance at the island. This is a true sign that the Arctic is changing.       

Estelle on deck

Megan Schlorff

Walrus Island, Nunavut

 

Today was definitely a day full of walrusness.  We started our day with a zodiac cruise around Walrus Island.  I saw hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of walrus spending time on the rocks. The island is actually quite small, so we were able to zodiac around the entire landmass to get a great view of many of these creatures.  We smelled them before we saw them!  We took the cruise really slowly and spent time just quietly sitting in the water and listening to the walruses make their bark-like laughing sounds.  The cruise was two hours, but it felt much quicker than that.  When we were out on the water, the sky was so blue and there was hardly a cloud in the sky.  It got to the point that it was hard to tell where the water ended and where the sky started.  The two massive bodies seemed to merge together in one massive blue blanket over the Arctic.

 

We heard a great presentation by Eric after the cruise about the cryosphere.  I know it sounds totally nerdy, but I really love all of the presentations that we hear each day.  I know that not everyone has the same appreciation for these things as I do, but I love learning about everything that we are experiencing and seeing.  The presentation by Eric was really eye-opening and quite disconcerting. I chose to attend the journal workshop this afternoon that was held on the deck of the ship, and it was such a great day to be outside. 

 

Khloe Heard and Moe Qureshi

 

Today was a fantastic day! We got to go to Walrus Island! At first I could only smell the stench of walrus, then they appeared out of nowhere on the rocks. We probably saw over 500 of them today and it was just incredible. They tumbled into the water and splashed around like little pups.

As well as the walrus, we saw a copious amount of jellyfish. They were very cool and colourful.

After that there was a fantastic presentation from Peter Mansbridge which inspired me greatly. We are very sad that he has to leave us tomorrow. We are really looking forward to going to Cape Dorset tomorrow!

Walrus

Olivia Rempel

Walrus Island, Fisher Strait, North Hudson Bay

 

As I carefully made my way down the steep steps to board the zodiac, it struck me immediately what made this place special. The water looked like glass. Besides the rocky shores of Walrus Island, a tiny unpopulated spit of rock in the middle of nowhere, we were in open water. Never in my life had I seen sunny skies, still waters and open ocean together. The horizon altered one's depth perception, it felt as if we might tumble off the edge of the world if we sailed in one direction too long.

 

The zodiacs purred along at a low speed, one in front of the other. There was complete silence except for the gurgle of the zodiac motors and the grunts of the hundreds of walruses on shore. They lay in piles, the males proudly displaying gleaming tusks, and occasionally plunging into the sea for a swim. We marvelled at these magnificent creatures from afar, but when I turned around and peered into the water, there was an orange jellyfish a few centimeters away from the side of the zodiac. I quickly snapped a shot. Seriously, who needs to go to Hawaii when you can see jellyfish in the Arctic?

 

Tegan Schellenberg

Walrus Island

 

Walrus Island can be most accurately compared to a haunted house. The noise that the hundreds of walrus make is identical to that of the maniacal laughter that rings through the walls of Disney’s Haunted House. They are such awkward creatures on land that it seems as though when one slips into the water, all the rest need to follow. Then they end up stumbling down into the cold Arctic water in one big walrus-ey mass. The smell was certainly undesirable, comparable to that of a septic tank, but if one could ignore the scent and focus on the sight it was amazing. Back on the ship, there were several presentations, and then the night ended off in a rousing chorus of the North-West Passage…until Remy and JR who were leading the song forgot the words half way through. Then the night simply ended in amiable laughter.

 

Vera Lo

Walrus Island

 

Hey, everyone! So much has happened since I last wrote, I have wanted to blog since Sunday night. Anyway, I am just going to talk about some of the highlights here. First and foremost, I saw Northern Lights for the first time in my life! On Sunday night, after all our presentation sessions, I was on the deck and there I saw the pale aqua curtains of light hanging in the night sky. Though the lights faded quickly, it was so surreal but amazingly beautiful at that moment. On the same night, we had a presentation by Alanna on her book, Sea Sick. It was an extremely moving and inspirational talk. Through her, I fully understood the urgency of the whole issue of climate change. At the same time, I realized the power of journalism, and the change in the hearts of people that effectively communicating a message can cause.

 

As for yesterday, we had this grueling hike at Digges Island. The highlight of the day, once again, was at night when we had David talking about the Inuit culture of drum-dancing, throat-singing and so forth. It was such a merry night, especially when half of the people in the lecture room began square-dancing towards the end. Indeed, a culture does not belong to a group of people of a certain nationality, race, or country only, but is meant to be shared throughout the world.

Hardy on Digges Island

Carolyn St. Vincent

Walrus Island, Fisher Strait

 

          This morning as I sat in the Zodiac, just off shore, admiring the ‘walri’ (our made up plural form of walrus), there was only one word to describe how I truly felt …thin. Just kidding.

          Walrus Island definitely deserves the name it was given. All along the large cliffs of the island, giant walruses lined the rock, basking in the warm Arctic sunlight. At first, the stench was almost unbearable, but it wasn’t before long until the fresh breeze of the open waters, and the nourishing smell of life, took over. It was incredible seeing so much wildlife out in the middle of nowhere, with so little surrounding them. They didn’t seem to pay too much attention to our six Zodiac boats, stalking their every move; they just carried on with their natural behavior. The most exciting part of watching them do almost absolutely nothing was when one walrus bravely trudged to a ledge about 30 feet above the water, and then, despite all of his hard work, got shoved off the cliff and tumbled into the water, smashing onto every rock along the way. I am not sure how much it could have hurt for a big blob of smoosh to have such an ungraceful fall, but if anything, it was pretty funny.

           I sincerely am having an incredible time here and all the people are wonderful. It will definitely be hard to leave them all behind when this amazing journey is over but I look forward to all of the upcoming exploring that we will be doing together.

 

Jessica Magonet

Walrus Island

The Geography of Happiness

I never thought I would say this, but I’ve come to love geography. It was one of my least favourite subjects in high school, since the Quebec curriculum consisted of memorizing the names of dozens of mines, hydro plants and nuclear stations. Not exactly thrilling.

 

However, Peter Harrison, a geographer accompanying us on this expedition, has taught me to love the study of the world. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Peter, who acts as the director of the Queen’s School of Public Policy when he isn’t on Polar expeditions, on the plane from Ottawa to Kuujjuaq. As we flew across Ontario, he pointed out the cities and bodies of water we passed. We were soon discussing everything from the BP oil spill to Arctic sovereignty.

 

Today, I attended a workshop that Peter hosted on resource development and management in the Arctic. In all honesty, the topic sounded deathly boring to me, but I knew from my plane ride that Peter was a pretty interesting guy, so I signed up anyways. By the end of the hour, I was convinced that resource management was fascinating.  The workshop made me see the world as a social experiment. By some godly force, humanity found itself stuck on a place called Earth with a bunch of really useful stuff. Resource management is about somehow overcoming cultural differences and greed to figure out how to share it all. 

 

On this expedition, I’ve discovered that geography doesn’t leave much out. It touches culture, ethics, environment, wildlife, economics…

 

Geography: just another potential university major to add to my ever-growing list.

 

Kim Aubut Demers

Digges island

 

NO ME MOLESTE MOSQUITO. (Ou «Enfin, des créatures à plumes!»)

Ce matin, le premier groupe à se rendre sur la plage de Digges Island était celui des « Polar Bears », le mien, pendant que les « Bowheads » ferait un tour en Zodiac de l’île. Deux façons très intéressantes de découvrir les incroyables colonies de guillemots de Brünnich! Notre escalade matinale a duré quelques heures, pendant lesquelles nous avons surmonté collines rocailleuses très à pic et innombrables moustiques qui se faisaient une joie de faire de nous leur festin. Seuls trois ou quatre avaient leur « bug jacket »… et je ne faisais malheureusement pas partie d’eux. Nous avons donc parcouru 6 kilomètres de cette île montagneuse, du plus jeune, Will… jusqu’à Norm. (81 ans). Un très bon exercice lors duquel nous avons fort rapidement abandonné presque toutes nos couches de vêtements, gardant le strict minimum. Arrivés au bout de notre escapade, une vue plongeante étonnante sur l’une des colonies de guillemots nous attendait. Le bruit que ces oiseaux faisaient! Ils étaient loin de passer inaperçus… Après avoir passé un petit moment à écouter Garry Donaldson nous parler de ces magnifiques créatures et observer les dites bêtes à plumes, nous redescendâmes pour embarquer à nouveau dans les Zodiacs et à notre tour, aller observer de près les falaises où nichent 180 000 paires d’oiseaux! Ce n’était pas parmi les pingouins, mais bien parmi les guillemots que nous étions! Ils plongeaient à toute vitesse juste à côté de l’embarcation, volant sous l’eau, essayant d’attraper leur repas. C’était plutôt comique de les voir, lors un instant, flottant sur l’eau, puis, d’un coup, hop! Chacun plongeant un à un. La mer était assez calme et Paul, qui était dans le même Zodiac que moi, a réussi à attraper des « sea butterflies », des sortes de petites créatures ressemblant à des escargots avec de petites ailes les aidant à nager, ainsi qu’une méduse, environ de la taille de la moitié de ma paume. De retour sur l’Orlova, une très intéressante présentation sur les oiseaux de l’Arctique nous attendait, suite à laquelle j’ai participé à l’atelier de Garry. Il nous a apprit comment conduire une bonne observation des oiseaux de mer. Il faut prendre en notes plusieurs faits, comme la vitesse du bateau et du vent, l’état de la mer, l’endroit, le côté du vaisseau où a lieu l’observation (babord ou tribord), etc. Ensuite, on détermine une région particulière, le «transect », dans laquelle nous allons observer les oiseaux et enfin, l’heure où débute l’observation et celle où elle termine sont prises en note. Nous avons donc fait un dix minutes de recherche avec Garry et lorsque notre atelier a terminé, Hugh, Carolyn et moi sommes restés sur le pont pour faire une seconde observation jusqu’au souper.  

Là-haut, sur le pont, je pouvais très bien ressentir le « Good Karma » dont Geoff nous parle depuis le début de l’expédition. La mer était si douce et calme qu’elle me mettait dans un état de relaxation et de réflexion. Ici, il fait si chaud qu’on ne se croirait pas au pôle Nord. J’ai peine à croire que c’est réellement la maison des ours polaires et qu’il est bien possible que je puisse en voir lors de cette aventure. Mise à part deux icebergs, je n’ai vu ni glace ni neige, seuls la faune, la flore et l’absence de traces de l’homme me rappelle que je suis en Arctique, dans cette immensité que je croyais blanche.

Walrus crowd the shores of Walrus Island

Samson Adjuk

Top of Hudson Bay  

This morning we went to Walrus Island and drove around the island with the Zodiac. It was a beautiful day and not that cold. It was even hotter than Nunavik, and right now we are on top of the Hudson Bay.

I am here because I want the educational experience and to learn some new things like hunting, culture, language and to meet some new people. I am not used to these people yet, but I am going to demonstrate to them some Inuit games whenever I get the chance. I am having so much fun here on this ship with my new friends. In my home town of Whale Cove, Nunavut, school is starting now which means I am missing 2 weeks of school, but this Students on ice expedition is a great and different source of education.

 

Aanchal Ralhan

Hudson Straight 

Hey everyone! Today we went to Walrus Island and it was great! My memory card is full, so I didn’t get too many pictures, but the sights we are seeing are astounding! We got to see the Walrus sliding into the water or sleeping and sunbathing on the rocks. The island was relatively small yet estimates of about 1000 walrus were resting there! They choose this island because it is a safe place for them, and easy for them to feed. The weather was also beautiful today; I can’t even begin to describe it because even in your imagination you couldn’t produce such an image of the sea and the land. We also had an Arctic pool party today! It was absolutely awesome, everyone got in the ship’s pool which was filled with sea water and was freezing! Some were clothed and some in bathing suits. I jumped in 4 times, and it felt absolutely great! Anyways, having an awesome time, it already feels like home to me!

Nathan Broomfield

 This morning we all got up at 7:00 A.M. and had breakfast at 7:30 A.M.  At about 8:30 the 'Bowhead' group were the first to go in the zodiacs to go and see the walruses. When they got back, the polar bear group (my group) went to see the walruses. I am guessing that we saw about 400-500 of them. I found it really amazing because that was the first time seeing a walrus for me.

When we got back we had lunch, then we had a few workshops. I took part in the bird workshop and I found it a lot of fun. After, we had a presentation for the Northern people from SOI. I liked it because we really got to express our feelings and how we were experiencing the expedition.

Students cool down with a refreshing jump into the ship’s swimming pool

Ezra Manson

Evans Strait

 

This expedition so far has contained a continuous source of knowledge, eye-opening scenery, and selflessly positive intentions by all of the participants and staff.

 

On the morning of Friday, August 6th the Students on Ice team, consisting of 116 individuals, landed by plane in Kuujjuaq, a town on the North coast of Nunavik with a population of approximately 2500. After several speeches followed by a tour through the town, we boarded the Lyubov Orlova, our home for the next 14 days. The vessel blew past any of my expectations leaving me beyond excited for the days to come.

 

The structured educational portion of this expedition is one of my favourite aspects so far. We have 2-3 presentations, workshops, and/or lectures each day by some of the most accomplished scientists, authors, and journalists in their fields. On the evening of Saturday, August 7th, there was a panel discussing Arctic issues. The panel consisted of an Inuit elder, a climate change researcher, a civil servant in the department of foreign affairs, a geologist/geographer who specializes in the Arctic, an Arctic historian, and Peter Mansbridge who served as the moderator. Instead of reading out of a textbook to memorize dates, we were listening to experts discussing the most conflicting issues in the Arctic, as well as voicing our comments, questions, and ides for possible solutions. Did I mention that I get to do this multiple times a day? This style of education has not only fostered a new inspiration in me to learn as much as possible throughout my lifetime, but also has made me never want to return to school again.

 

The sights that I have seen this trip will forever be imprinted into my mind. Yesterday morning we went to Digges Island, which is the home to 180,000 pairs of Murres, a sea bird commonly found in the Arctic. Murres perch on cliffs in large groups as a defence mechanism against their predators. This natural habitat made for an incredible view of 10s of thousands of Murres flying in every direction in front of a vertical 850-meter drop-off leading right into the ocean. Not only did we hike to the top of the cliff to see the perspective from the top, but we also got to partake in a zodiac ride at the bottom of the cliff – both were unforgettable sights.

 

Cliffs and birds are far from the extent of the sites that I have seen so far. Last night I had the pleasure to experience a sunset stretched 180 degrees across the horizon, followed by my very first encounter with the Northern lights. I was simply awe-struck by the beauty. 

 

My latest engraved memory was formed this morning when we visited Walrus Island. Can you guess what I saw? Yes, Roughly 1,000 walruses basking in the hot Arctic sun (I’m not kidding, it was hot out today). Walruses are surprisingly fascinating animals, and I will never forget the domino effect that occurs when one decides that he must, by any means possible, find a way to get into the water. 

That is all for today. I will keep you posted.

 

PS. CBC Vancouver called the satellite phone today to set up a radio interview with me.

 

Jennifer Amagoalik

In the library.

  

Okay……….

So this morning, I woke up with my roommate telling me it’s 5 minutes until breakfast.

Apparently she tried to wake me up when the wake-up call was said, but I was dead asleep. I was so tired from the night before.

Anyway, today I had some breakfast and read a little bit of the book SOI gave us called Sea Sick. Then I got ready for the trip we were going to take to the mainland of Douglas Harbor. We had a bunch of workshops we got to choose from and I chose the art workshop. My group made a caribou out of rocks. We all got to see a real caribou during the day which I thought it was really cool. I also got to see a seal pop it’s head up and down a few times. I wish I could see a seal up close and alive. Who knows? Maybe I will before this expedition ends.

After the trip on the land we went back on the ship, and it was around lunch time when I got back. I was super tired! At some points it felt like I was going to have dinner instead of lunch, haha.  After lunch, I went to hangout at the library, talked to some people, and then went to my room and read some more of Sea Sick. We got called to the lecture room, around 3? Maybe 4. I don’t have a watch, I think I should have brought one, it would have helped a lot. Anyway, I forgot his name already, but he was talking about the Arctic plants. Gosh…I never would have thought there were so many, and what they go through.

   So… here I am now, writing my journal for the first time. The ship is rocking, and my stomach doesn’t like it, so I’m going chill in my room and read.

Jen

Black guillemot catches a fish

Khloe Heard 18, Calgary Alberta.

My Arctic Expedition Week One, Day 5

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 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.  

 

Marine Riponi   

Pas d’ours aujourd’hui non plus, mais des morses!!! Au moins une centaine de morses que l’on a observé depuis les zodiacs, on était juste a quelques mètres d eux, c’était comme être sur un trottoir et observé le chien sur le trottoir d’en face. J’ai bien choisi la comparaison car les morses émettaient des sortes de grognements et d’aboiements semblables à ceux des chiens !! Ils étaient impressionnant, allongé sur les rochers pour faire la sieste, puis se trainant jusqu’au bord de l’eau comme un sac de patate pour se laisser tomber dans l’eau. Ils étaient énormes !! Le plus impressionnant était lorsqu’il se donnait des coups de leurs énormes dents car M. X voulait passer mais M. Y était sur son chemin en train de dormir. À un moment, il y en avait un qui se situait sur un rocher assez haut, et il a mal calculé son coup du coup il a fait un roule boule hallucinant, il est tombé de presque 1 mètre et à continuer son roule boule jusque dans l’eau. C’était juste hallucinant d’assister à ça !! On a éclaté de rire sur le zodiac, mais pas trop fort pour ne pas les effrayer.    

Le reste de la journée s’est écoulé calmement, entre présentation sur l’océan arctique et le réchauffement climatique. C’était très intéressant. On a eu une autre présentation sur les mammifères marins. J ai refait un workshop sur l’art, cette fois on a peint et surtout appris à peindre. Et pas avec de la gouache, mais avec de la peinture a l’huile! Je suis assez fière du landscape que j’ai fait. Ce soir, on va assister à la conférence de Peter, célèbre journaliste canadien qui va nous quitter bientôt. Oh! J’allais oublier! Aujourd’hui il faisait tellement beau qu’ils ont remplis la piscine !! Mais je n’y suis pas allé, j’ai fini mon bouquin à la place. Peut être que j’aurais du y aller, pour m’entrainer lorsque nous nous baignerons dans l’océan glacial arctique, l’eau de la piscine étant à environ 2 ou 3 degrés, en plein air.    

Le language des Inuit’s appelle Inuktitut, and the Inuktitut word of the day was “kinauvit?”, which means “What’s your name ?”     Aujourd’hui j’ai eu une conversation très intéressante avec David, notre “spécialiste” des animaux. Peut être finalement que je ne ferais pas vétérinaire, mais scientifique ou chercheur sur les marmottes, les bœufs musques ou quelque chose comme ça. 

J’ai hâte de voir ce que me réserve la journée de demain, comme chaque soir, et ma seule peur durant cette expédition est de me réveiller un matin, de me retrouver dans ma chambre et de réaliser que tout ça n’était qu’un rêve.

 

Hardy Strom

Yesterday, we hiked approximately 6km on Digges Island, up rocks and hills that I’ve never even seen before, so climbing it was something else.  It was incredibly hot for the Arctic, so layers were being stripped everywhere.  By the end all I had left was a rolled up sweater and pyjama pants.  Our final destination on the hike was a very special place, where thousands of thick-billed murres nested on the hundred foot cliff all while a waterfall was falling beside them.  It was one of the best sights so far.  Unfortunately, I forgot my camera batteries, so no pictures were taken, although a camera could not do justice to such a view. 

              Once we were back on the ship, out came the instruments for a starting jam with, Remy, David, and Elder David even brought out his accordion, which was great fun.  After super, Elder David gave a presentation on traditional Inuit music, and also told some great stories.  That and the panel discussion were two of my favourite presentations so far.

              Today we took the zodiacs out to Walrus Island.  It defiantly lived up to its name.  We counted hundreds of walruses, and there were most likely hundreds more. 

              Well. Workshops are starting, and I’m going to learn some photography.

Hi to everyone back home.

 

Alyssa Borutski

Hello All!

I cannot describe to you what it is like waking up in a new, even cooler (literally) place every morning!

On Sunday night we were fortunate enough to see the Northern Lights while on deck around eleven o’clock (at which point the sun was just setting). It was amazing, the bright spectacle of vibrant colours danced in the sky as we all watched in awe.

Yesterday we woke up near the end of the Hudson Straight, near Digges Island. After we woke up to the lulling sound of Geoff’s voice (…not!) we headed down for breakfast and got ready for the day’s activities.

We embarked on Zodiac cruises around Digges Island (which is a part of Nunavut) and eventually made a landing on the island where we were able to go for a fabulous six-kilometre hike. We hiked to the very tops of the cliffs that seemed as if they could swallow us whole.

The special thing about Digges Island is the fact the it has a very large colony of thick-billed murs living on it; about four-hundred thousand in fact, which as I’m sure you can imagine smells terrible!

 

Arctica Cunningham
Sailing Toward Cape Dorset

I am writing this after coming in from an evening briefing out on deck. It will be a quick journal tonight as I have about ten minutes to lights out. The highlight of the day was definitely Walrus Island! You may be able to guess from the name, but we saw a lot of walrus on the island; like over 500! It was incredible, something I will never forget! We had some amazing, informative and inspiring lectures throughout the course of the day and I also participated in Lee Narraway’s photography workshop, which taught me a lot. The pool on deck was filled with sea water, which was very cold, and in the afternoon we had a pool party on deck! Unfortunately, tomorrow we have to say goodbye to Peter and Will in Cape Dorset, and we are all going to miss them so much, None the less, we have all had a great time with them! Thank you so much to everyone, especially Youth Science Canada, who helped me to get here!

Ezra Manson
Evans Strait

Hi,

Sorry for the infrequent updates.

This expedition so far has contained a continuous source of knowledge, eye-opening scenery, and selflessly positive intentions by all of the participants and staff.

On the morning of Friday August 6th the students on Ice team, consisting of 116 individuals, landed by plane in Kuujjuaq, a town on the North coast of Nunavik with a population of approximately 2500. After several speeches followed by a tour through the town, we boarded the Lyubov Orlova, our home for the next 14 days. The vessel blew past any of my expectations leaving me beyond excited for the days to come.

The structured educational portion of this expedition is one of my favourite aspects so far. We have 2-3 presentations, workshops, and/or lectures each day by some of the most accomplished scientists, authors, and journalists in their fields. On the evening of Saturday, August 6th, there was a panel discussing Arctic issues. The panel consisted of an Inuit elder, a climate change researcher, a civil servant in the department of foreign affairs, a geologist/geographer who specializes in the Arctic, an Arctic historian, and Peter Mansbridge who served as the moderator. Instead of reading out of a textbook to memorize dates, we were listening to experts discussing the most conflicting issues in the Arctic, as well as voicing our comments, questions, and ides for possible solutions. Did I mention that I get to do this multiple times a day? This style of education has not only fostered a new inspiration in me to learn as much as possible throughout my lifetime, but also has made me never want to return to school again.

The sights that I have seen this trip will forever be imprinted into my mind. Yesterday morning we went to Digges Island, which is the home to 180,000 pairs of Murres, a sea bird commonly found in the Arctic. Murres perch on cliffs in large groups as a defence mechanism against their predators. This natural habitat made for an incredible view of 10’s of thousands of Murres flying in every direction in front of a vertical 850-meter drop-off leading right into the ocean. Not only did we hike to the top of the cliff to see the perspective from the top, but we also got to partake in a zodiac ride at the bottom of the cliff – both were unforgettable sights.

Cliffs and birds are far from the extent of the sites that I have seen so far. Last night I had the pleasure of experience a sunset stretched 180 degrees across the horizon, followed by my very first encounter with the Northern lights. I was simply awe-struck by the beauty.

My latest engraved memory was formed this morning when we visited Walrus Island. Can you guess what I saw? Yes, Roughly 1,000 walruses basking in the hot Arctic sun (I’m not kidding, it was hot out today). Walruses are surprisingly fascinating animals, and I will never forget the domino effect that occurs when one decides that he must, by any means possible, find a way to get into the water.

That is all for today. I will keep you posted.

Lots of love,
Ezra

PS. CBC Vancouver called the satellite phone today to set up a radio interview with me.

 

Zoë Caron

Today is ice-free. We are north of 60 and we are clad in t-shirts, windbreakers, and 50 SPF sunscreen. The walruses roll over to expose their deep pink bellies – coloured by their blood rising to the surface of their skin, a sign of the warmest of body temperatures.

We share a pair of binoculars, taking turns watching the four-ton males make their way over their friends – sometimes using the force of their tusks, sometimes not – to reach the cool Arctic water. We came up alongside one, a surprisingly graceful mass of flesh performing a ballet through the aquamarine blue. Its bright red eye emerged, acknowledging our presence, deridingly swimming on.

It is a day for which to be grateful. We are among an elder who, in his 58 years, had not laid eyes on a walrus until today. A woman, who has spent the last two decades in the far north, also saw her first walrus today. And so for those of us for whom this is our first voyage north, it is a miracle of nature that we saw, not one, but hundreds, of these great beings.

The sun-drenched afternoon was one that you can only wish for – and a fierce reinforcement of the meaning behind our daily efforts. For every individual that dedicates his or her time to conservation, there is a walrus (or a muskox, or a thick-billed murre) that thanks you. They did today.

 

Mike Jensen

Since I found out there was a chance I would be able to go on this expedition, I’ve been telling anyone who I could find about the special guest that would also be coming along. Don’t get me wrong, we have an amazing collection of staff scientists, educators and experts along with us on this incredible experience.

But this one is, as one of my fellow staff chaperones put it, “world class”. For the past few days, we’ve been privileged to have Peter Mansbridge, chief correspondent for the CBC and host of The National, sail with us along with his son Will. A couple of updates ago, I mentioned that I participated in a workshop that Peter held at Douglas Harbour on Journalism and Interviewing. It was a surreal moment that I invite you to read over, if you haven’t already.

Tonight, as we prepare to arrive at Cape Dorset tomorrow, we also prepared to say goodbye to the Mansbridges. Sadly, they have commitments back home that prevent them from coming along on the entire voyage with us, and so they will be disembarking while we are visiting this community famous for its Inuit artwork.

As a last hurrah before bidding farewell, Peter conducted one last presentation for the entire group tonight. Although billed as another talk about Journalism and the Media, Peter told the students to put their pens down and close their books. And for the next 90 minutes, we were treated to a personal and insightful look at one of the most famous faces on Canadian television.

Through a series of anecdotes, Peter took us on a journey of some of his more memorable experiences, from Sri Lanka after the tsunami, to the Netherlands on the 60th anniversary of the Dutch liberation in WWII, to the Canadian forces bases in Afghanistan. It was one of those unique Students on Ice moments that will remain with the students (and the staff) for the rest of their lives.

Peter is truly a spokesperson for the Arctic. Since his start in Churchill, Manitoba, his passion and love for this region shows. And he was given quite a show today, as we visited Walrus Island, aptly named because it has, surprisingly, lots of walruses… or walrii… well, you know what I mean.

This hunk of a rock at the “top” of Hudson Bay is well-known for these chubby, awkward looking creatures that are so difficult to get close to that even our own Inuit elder, David Serkoak, had never seen them before. At least one thousand walrus lazed around in the mid-morning sunshine, or frolicked in the clear icy waters as we cruised silently by in zodiacs, the only sound coming from the dozens of cameras.

After that incredible sight, we returned to the ship for an atypically lax day for Students On Ice. There was a series of workshops, a couple of presentations, but much of the day was spent journaling, reading, soaking in the sun on deck, or resting.

Tomorrow, as mentioned, will take us to Cape Dorset on the south coast of Baffin Island. Because we are making good time, we might be able to stop at an archaeological site – guess what?... another first for SOI.

We might be saying goodbye to Peter Mansbridge, but the adventure for us, is just beginning.

 

 

Stay Tuned for Further Updates!



 

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