August 12, 2010

            Eirik and Ingrid write letters to go in their bottles for the bottle drop program.

Expedition Update

Yesterday was an extraordinary day in the arts capital of the North - wonderful Cape Dorset. The students were treated to a feast including Seal and Arctic Char, visited an ancient historical site, were treated to drum dancing and throat singing and even participated in some tradition Inuit games.

Today the seas calmer. and the Lyubov Orlova is currently steaming east along the Hudson Strait - towards the Monumental Island area in preparation for tomorrow’s activities. The students will be busy today working on numerous projects and participating in research and artistic activities. The ship is also seeing some spectacular icebergs this morning - and are out on deck - taking it all in. As this is a "sea day" students will also have many opportunity to reflect, update their journals - or just sit on deck and watch the sea go by (or maybe even squeeze in a nap!)

Today marks the first day of the International Year of Youth. And as such, our students are busily working on various projects / presentations to share with their peers.

Follow the expedition in real time by clicking the spot link below:

Student Journals and Photos by Lee Narraway:

Students performed in skits to celebrate the launch of International Year of the Youth.

Ingrid Skjoldvaer

Sea day 

Well I promised you I’d get back to you with the full update from yesterday’s visit to Cape Dorset. Here it comes:We arrived at 8 in the morning and anchored up in the bay. The first half of the day was spent at an archaeological site just outside the community where we explored the thousand year old winter houses of the Thule people and the bones from their primary food source, seal and walrus. After lunch we headed in to Cape Dorset where we were welcomed like kings. The community had prepared several activities for us. Women of three generations performed throat singing, and traditional Inuit games and seal carving was demonstrated to us. The whole community and many of the students ate the raw seal meat. Afterwards we went for a walk in town and checked out the local co-op and an art store. After all, Cape Dorset is the Inuit art capital.After dinner yesterday Norman Baker, our oldest expedition member told us of the Ra expeditions where he had been the navigator. It was probably the highlight of the day for many, me included. To have him tell me, Eirik and the other expedition members about the voyages instead of learning about them in history class was so cool. These expeditions, and the leader of them Thor Heyerdal, are legendary in Norway. 

Today we have spent the whole day at sea. We have had several lectures and one was by John Crump who works at GRID Arendal with indigenous people and climate change. It was really interesting! We also threw 200 glass bottles overboard. We all took some time to write our own message in each bottle, so you might find a message from me in a bottle on a beach near you in a couple of months. These bottles are used to measure the ocean current.


Andrew Wong

Baffin Strait 

Instead of sharing with you today's events, I wanted to take this time to express the thoughts and feelings that have been stirring within me since the beginning of this life-changing journey. When I stand at the tip of the bow in the morning, staring out at the endless Arctic horizon, my senses make me feel so real and human. I constantly think about where I am at the present moment, on this ship in the Arctic, given this special opportunity to explore a land few have come to, a land few will ever get to see. I think about how great of a privilege it has been to be part of this Arctic Expedition. I really wanted to say how thankful and grateful I am to be supported by Earth Rangers who have made it entirely possible for me to be on this expedition in the Arctic right now and who have made it possible for me to learn and be inspired by this unimaginable journey of personal growth and self-reflection. For the past few days, I have been feeling the magic of the Arctic land, water, and air. It is so difficult to describe this special place in words. It really is. All I can say is: thank you so much Earth Rangers.  


Students work on plans for Year of the Youth.

Arctica Cunningham

Sailing through the Davis Strait


Today is a sea day, which gives us a welcome break after yesterday’s busy day. Yesterday we arrived at Cape Dorset early in the morning. We have been making excellent time; we weren’t expected there until the afternoon so we went exploring on the island across from Cape Dorset. It was very beautiful, but there was a lot of garbage that had blown over from the community. I suggested to Geoff that the next time we went to an island near a community we should all take a garbage bag and pick up as much garbage as possible and Geoff really liked the idea! The community of Cape Dorset was very welcoming to us, and they even carved a seal for us. I tried both raw seal meat and the liver, which is apparently a delicacy! The meat was very tasty, though it had a very strong taste to it! It was a great day. Today is the launch of the International Year of Youth, so a group of us are making a video to inspire youth to take action and make a difference! I am also still busy working on the Daily Ice Cap, which is going very well! I feel myself falling deeper in love with this land everyday!


Carly Roome

Sea Day


I haven’t written in a couple of days- again I am sorry. It’s quite busy on and off the ship. Probably the best day for me was yesterday when we visited the archaeological site at Cape Dorset. It was really interesting to learn about the people who lived there and their way of life in the community.

We also climbed to the top of one of the hills to see the incredible view. I could see for miles and it made me feel so small. 

We also had fun meeting the present community of Cape Dorset (especially the little kids!) – who welcomed us with open arms. The community is known for their artwork and it was so amazing to walk through the art shops and see the beautiful hand carved pieces.

The seal meat was interesting too…

We also had to say good bye to Willy and Peter Mansbridge today! It was great that they were here.

I had a lot of fun in Cape Dorset.

I will try to write soon, talk to you later!

JR, Khloe and Remy entertain out on deck.

Carson Hardy and Moe Qureshi

South Shore of Baffin Island


The full days and short sleeps are beginning to get to us; we are tired all the time. But, there is so much to do. Today we got to sleep in half an hour, but that didn’t help because we were busy until late at night. Today was a sea day, we didn’t make any landings however, but the seas were reasonably calm. 


Eric presented us with the science of the bottle drop. This is where we throw bottles into the water at known coordinates with a message in the bottle to contact a research company of when and where the bottles were found. With that information we can figure out the general direction of the ocean currents.


We went to one of Paul’s workshops on the importance of diatoms - diatoms run the whole cycle of life. We learned about the different types of scopes, and the electron microscope is very interesting.


Today, pod groups came together and made a presentation about the international year of the youth. We all had fun while learning at the same time. Moe and Joe were the mc’s after being told about it three minutes in advance. They did well.


Eirik Stein-Andersen

Hudson Strait


Hey everyone! Today we got to sleep in and enjoy a nice long breakfast. After breakfast we listened to a lecture about Bottle Drift. Bottle Drift is a program where we drop bottles with messages into the ocean. The bottles travel with the ocean currents. When the bottles are found they are reported and scientists learn about the ocean currents and if they are changing. We dropped 40 bottles with our own personal messages.

 Today is also the launch day for the International Year of Youth. The IYY is used to empower youth to take actions. We are making a movie about Students on Ice for the IYY website. The purpose of the movie is to get youth engaged and involved so they can take action at home. During the evening we were divided into our different groups on the ship and we all made a little skit about youth. We had a lot of fun presenting them and everybody got in a good laugh. We did not have a landing today, but I really enjoyed being on the ship for a full day. We also got to see a few icebergs.

Loving the Arctic!

Vera creates wire art.

Emily Best

North Shore of the Hudson Straight


Hey everyone. On Tuesday we went to Walrus Island and we saw lots and lots of walrus! They were humongous! We had workshops later that day and I went to the one on movie making. We made a production of Mr.Bingles. Yesterday we went to Cape Dorset. It was very fun – we were given the opportunity to try seal and char, listened to some throat singing, and walked around the town. Earlier in the morning we visited the archaeological site – it was very interesting to learn about the history and there were some amazing views from up on the mountains. This morning I did and interview with CBC’s Labrador Morning after breakfast. We then had a presentation about the “Drift Bottle Project” from Eric. This afternoon we will be going into our “pod” groups and we will be watching some more presentations. We are on our way to Pang so today is a sailing day and we won’t be doing any landings. We saw many icebergs this morning and hopefully we will see some more this afternoon. Missing everyone at home but having a great time!   


Ezra Manson

Hudson Strait


Yesterday we first went to an ancient Thule site just East of Cape Dorset. David Gray described the ways of life of these Thule people, showing us ancient bones (some of which were around a thousand years old) and their old homes. They lived in stone structures that were dug into the ground with low stone entrances and skin roofs. Archaeologists theorize that throughout the winters they would hibernate in a sense by spending a lot of time conversing and refraining from exerting themselves too much. As for food they would feed from a cache of food they had made in the summer. Interesting stuff.


Later in the day we went to Cape Dorset, a first nation’s community of 1,200 people located at the most Western edge of the Hudson Strait. Cape Dorset is very famous for its art. We were greeted with a very warm welcome from everyone. They had prepared fresh raw seal, Inuit games, live throat singing, and a fun atmosphere in general. Later on we continued on to the local co-op followed by the sculpture shop. This was my first opportunity to really experience and immerse myself in an Inuit community. What first grabbed my attention was the obvious difference of lifestyles between them and myself. Secondly I noticed the evident impact that the ‘Europeans’ had on this community.


Anyways I am getting kicked off the computer right now. Today we had no landings. I did however attend a workshop discussing the Canadian seal hunt. We will be having a mock debate on it tomorrow.

Until the next time.

Students discuss paint strategies for their mural.

Hannah Jacobs

South coast of Baffin Island


Today is a sea day, which means no landings, or zodiac cruises. I think that this day was perfectly timed because we can all use a bit of a rest day. Everyday so far, while being mind blowing in its own way has also left us very tired at the end of the night. Sailing along the coast of Baffin Island means we have a stunning, rocky, hilly landscape silhouetted to our port side with the occasional iceberg floating past. Last night’s entry was cut short by a presentation by Norman Baker on his expeditions on the Ra and Ra II. Watching the footage from the expeditions and hearing him narrate it was like watching a movie, it was so well timed and captivating you felt like you were right there with him. Today we also took part in the Bottle Drift project. We were able to write personal messages in bottles and send them off into the sea in the hopes that someone will find them and then we can track the patterns in the sea currents. I hope my bottles will make it across the ocean safely!


Kim Aubut Demers

Cape Dorset


Ce matin, j’ai essayé de me lever plus tôt que l’habituel « Gooood morning, students on ice », mais… je n’ai pas réussi. Il faut dire que nos journées sont remplies et très fatigantes! Il est donc plus qu’important de dormir le plus possible… J’ai donc déjeuné aussi peu réveillée que tout le monde. Ensuite, « rubber boots », crème solaire et « bug jacket » en main, nous nous sommes rendus sur la côte en face du village de Cape Dorset, afin de faire un petit exercice matinal: une marche jusqu’en haut d’une colline, d’où la vue qu’elle offrait était magnifique, la baie avec l’Orlova, le village et les montagnes. Puis, notre groupe a rejoint une plage où se tenait fièrement un bel inukshuk. Un dernier arrêt au site archéologique où énormément d’os de morses, baleines et caribous étaient couches sur le sol… avant de retourner diner au Lyubov Orlova. Puis, direction Cape Dorset, la capitale de l’art du pôle Nord! Nous sommes accueillis par les résidents, de la musique (pas trop traditionnelle pour l’instant, les Black Eyed Peas n’étant pas originaires de la place, à ce que je sache!) et des repas typiques. Et par typiques, je veux vraiment dire « typiques ». J’ai goûté au phoque cru, plus précisément au foir du phoque. On aurait dit que j’avais mis un solide morceau de sang dans ma bouche. Je l’ai avalé, je peux dire que je l’ai fait : j’ai mangé du phoque cru! En tout cas. Je préfère le chocolat. Héhé. Le maire de la ville a introduit deux anciennes de la communauté, habillées avec les très jolis vêtements traditionnels : un long manteau avec des motifs et de la fourrure. Les étudiants Inuit de notre groupe nous ont dit qu’elles étaient très connues, en tant que « throat singers ». Elles nous ont fait l’honneur de chanter pour nous et ensuite deux autres générations ont fait des présentations. Les garçons jouaient à un sport appelé le «one foot hiking» et un autre, le « two feet hiking », consistant à toucher, avec le pied, une balle de tennis suspendue à certaine distance du sol, dans différentes positions. Nous avons un peu marché dans le village avec nos nouveaux amis, les enfants de la place, qui n’arrêtaient pas de demander si Carly et moi étions sœurs ou encore jumelles! Même les étudiants nous le demandaient régulièrement, au début de l’expédition. Un magasin très important de l’endroit était la boutique d’art. J’ai acheté un petit souvenir… un beluga sculpté dans une Pierre. Les motifs de la Pierre ressemblent à des vagues et la baleine donne l’impression de dire salut, avec sa nageoire levée. C’est fort joli!


Notre huitième journée était aussi celle du départ de Will et de Peter, qui devaient retourner à la maison. Nous leur avons tous dit au revoir, à ces deux membres de notre «slightly dysfunctional family».


Students learn to paint with oils.

Meagan LeMessurier


Today was a full day at sea. The day started off well with a sleep in until 7:30 a.m. The morning started out with multiple iceberg sightings, presentations, and meetings. We had a workshop before lunch, of which I attended the song workshop with Remy. The group of us sang songs and eventually wrote a song about climate change to the tune of “This Land Is Your Land”. Our second Pod meeting took place after lunch where most of it was spent planning a performance for the briefing tonight. As our name is the IPODs our group decided to do an evolution of the IPOD. It was very creative and involved props and music (which was nice because I think most are music deprived).  The presentation tonight of the entire pods skits were very funny. 


I would also like to mention that today being a full day at sea I found myself a little home sick and would just like to let people back home know that I was thinking about them today. I can’t wait to share my adventures with you.


However I am told that there are brilliant northern Lights off the port side right now so I must leave and take a look.


Megan Schlorff

Hudson Strait


Today was a sea day for us, so it meant that we spent the entire day on the boat sailing to new destinations. I was able to spend some time just sitting on the deck and writing in my journal while enjoying the lovely sunshine. I started the day with an interview by satellite phone for CKNX AM 920. I hope that some people at home were able to hear it! The satellite phone connection was not the greatest, and we were cut off halfway through.  Thankfully I was able to call back and finish it.


One of the highlights today was the bottle drift project that we participated in. I filled three bottles with messages that will be dropped at various places throughout the Arctic, and I released one of them today. We heard many stories about bottles that have been found, and I think it would be amazing if someone found one of mine. It was a really neat experience to release some of my thoughts and words into the Arctic Ocean. Today is the first day of International Year of Youth. In honour of this our pod groups made presentations. Ours continued with our “Gray’s Anatomy” doctor theme. Mother Earth was our very sick patient and she had some very insensitive doctors, including Dr. Government which was my role. It was absolutely hilarious watching the presentations.  For supper we had Arctic char that was given to us when we visited Cape Dorset. It was absolutely delicious!    


Olivia Rempel

Davis Strait  

Today is the launch of International Year of Youth (IYY), and during the workshops this afternoon the education team scheduled a meeting to decide what to do to mark this event. A plan was made to film a short video, tying SOI in with IYY and showcasing the exceptional achievements of youth on this expedition. I had a fantastic time helping the rest of the team map out the video progression, and preparing students to be interviewed for the video.


There were no landings scheduled for today. It was a sea day, and whenever I stepped outside and peered out over the horizon, I saw only wavy ocean, with the occasional iceberg and strip of distant land. Every close range iceberg sighting was excitingly announced over the intercom. The thought that the early explorers could not make it through this part of the Arctic, blocked by the ice, was disturbing. Now here we are, in 2010, using ice charts to look for ice rather than avoid it.


Tegan Schellenberg

Somewhere in the Arctic Ocean, heading East 

          Today is a full sea day, which means that there is no need to put on a waterproof outfit and hop in a zodiac. We were given time to sleep in, but of course I ended up waking up an hour and a half before wakeup call, at 6:15 and decided to just start my day. It was very quiet on the ship, and as soon as I had grabbed a hot chocolate and a croissant that was still warm, I headed out to the stern and sat on a bench to write in my journal. It was amazing. The only noise I could hear was that of the engine, and the waves splashing the ship beneath me. The water was a deep, cold blue, and calm, but not completely smooth. The dependable early morning fog was my only company. Slowly and silently an iceberg floated past the ship, only to be followed by several more. As the sun began to heat up the air, I began to realize that this morning was only for me. No other eyes were watching the same water that I was. I was completely and utterly alone with this part of the Arctic, which may as well now be called my part of the Arctic.

A bottle is capped and then will be sealed with warm wax before being thrown into the sea to track the ocean currents.

Vera Lo

Hudson Strait (Sea Day) 

Today is a Sea Day, so no landing today. However, we had two landings yesterday – one at an archaeological site, another at the community of Cape Dorset. As Geoff had put it interestingly, we saw “both the past and the present” on the same day. At the archaeological site, we saw remnants of ancient people, but we could see the houses of the current community at a far distance.

I found our community visit fascinating. Everyone was extremely welcoming and friendly, greeting us with bright smiles on their faces. Even the young children show no signs of shyness, taking an active role to ask our names. It is also to see how traditional culture and modern popular culture can coexist in the same place. The kids there have iPods and computers, the little girls love Hannah Montana, but despite the influx of such cultures, they preserved their own traditions, including throat-singing and other Inuit games. However, it is saddening to see how common children, as young as the age of 11, were smoking and did not realize the hazards that it would bring at all. Also, it is upsetting to know that a lot of the kids there don’t enjoy staying at Cape Dorset and want to leave the place. I just feel that a home should be a place where you want to return to and feel a sense of belonging. Anyway, to end I want to do a shout-out: Uliana! Happy Birthday, roomie!! : )


James Raffan

Postcard from Cape Dorset 


Char, seal, rabbit, throat singing, rock music, smiling faces and, just for good measure, a troop of chanting and enchanting Aboriginal singers from New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands.  We’ve talked about climate change, its evidence in the Arctic and its effects on small island communities throughout the world.  Suddenly that lesson manifests itself in a Maori kwoka.


Aanchal Ralhan

Hudson Strait


Hey everyone! So far the trip has been awesome! I’m sad it is closer to the end than the beginning. Today is a day at sea, which is pretty nice because we've been on the go a lot in the past few days! Yesterday I was so tired I didn't get a chance to journal, but yesterday was by far one of the most exciting days. We got a chance to meet people from the community of Cape Dorset; they had an amazing welcoming ceremony for us. We got to try raw seal, play traditional Inuit games, and roam the town with the children. I also bought a piece of art made by local artists, it is very unique! I started a yoga group with a bunch of newly made friends from the ship! We wake up an hour before breakfast so usually 6 or 6:30(depending on what we are doing that day), and stretch and do exercises on one of the top decks of the ship. We get to watch the sun rise and the movement of the ocean, so it was very soothing and fun!

The evening skits had the audience in stitches!

Fatin Chowdhury

Cape Dorset 

Today I met an 8 year old girl named Janice who lives in Cape Dorset who can throat sing, and who loves playing in the community playground. In the morning, she did throat singing with her 11 year old sister, Alissa. During much of my visit there, she showed me around the town and helped to translate what some of the elders said. To me, her curiosity and enthusiastic personality represented the qualities that would make her a future leader of Cape Dorset. Although she often talked about things I didn’t understand, I kept listening. We went to the Print shop where I was amazed by the local artists' diverse prints and carvings showcasing how strongly they are rooted to their culture. At first, I was taken aback by the fact that this community was so isolated. But after talking to Mary, one of the older female throat singers, about their lifestyle and history, I realized that they were quite happy living there. However, they did complain about how they are being affected by the changing climate. When it was time to leave, I kept wondering when I would come back again. Maybe when I do come back, Janice and Alisa will be a lot older, perhaps a nurse like Mary or an artist or anything they want to be. The potential is limitless. 


John Crump

64N, 73S

Hello to the Students in Suva, Fiji –

We are sailing west along the south coast of Baffin Island towards the Davis Strait which separates Nunavut, Canada’s Arctic territory, from Greenland. It is a beautiful sunny day – very warm for this latitude but it has been a very warm summer in the Arctic. Some of the students are out on the stern deck of our ship, the Lyubov Orlova, working and relaxing in the sunshine (they seem to be able to do both). To the north I can see the southern edge of the huge island of Baffin. Ice bergs drift in the distance – we passed a fairly large one this morning, the first close up sighting of the trip. There isn’t much ice around this summer, at least not here in the Hudson Strait.

It’s been an interesting trip with several trips in rubber rafts called zodiacs and many sightings of wildlife, including a trip around Walrus Island two mornings ago. There we saw about 1,000 walrus lounging in the sun on the barren, rocky island. They go there in the summer and stay together until the ice reforms in the winter. They are one of the largest marine mammals and can weigh up to 2000 pounds. Like the polar bear, which also lives and hunts on the ice for much of the year, walrus could be in trouble if the climate here keeps warming.

Climate change is happening very rapidly up here. The temperatures in parts of the Arctic have risen dramatically. Multi-year sea ice, which is important because it reflects a lot of solar radiation back into the atmosphere, is dropping even faster than predicted just a few years ago. As more ocean is exposed to the summer sun, it absorbs more heat and the cycle of melting accelerates.

All of this affects the people who live up here, the Inuit, because they rely on the fish, birds and animals for a large portion of their diet. These “country foods” are also very important from a cultural point of view as well. We are exploring some of the connections in several community visits. There are no roads between communities in the Arctic and so people fly in and out by airplane. When our ship calls in, it’s a big event.

Yesterday, we spent the afternoon in the community of Cape Dorset, which is famous for its carving and printmaking (search on the internet and you’ll see what I mean). We came ashore in our small boats and walked up the beach to an open area where the people had gathered to welcome us and share their food. There was seal and Arctic charr, a delicious fish that resembles salmon. Both are eaten raw and so many students from the southern parts of Canada, the United States, and other countries got to try something quite new. For the Northern students – those from Nunavut and other places in the Canadian Arctic – the food and community sights and sounds were very familiar.

As I walked into the crowd I spotted a man who didn’t look like he came from the community. We started talking and it turned out he was from Fiji and he was in the town of 1500 for a week with members of a group named Island Breeze who were there to perform and get to know the community. The other performers were from New Zealand, Tonga and Samoa. After several local women performed some traditional Inuit throat singing (look this up too), the performers from the South Pacific got out their instruments and sang traditional songs from, well, your region. Everyone loved it and our students commented on the fact that they came all the way to the Arctic to hear music from the South Pacific.

I guess the world isn’t that big after all. We will write again soon.

All the best,
John Crump


Mike Jensen

Happy International Year of Youth!! Today marks the official kick-off for this celebration recognizing the importance of youth around the world. And we are celebrating it in fine style aboard the Orlova. Of course, the whole intent behind Students On Ice is to promote knowledge and action about climate change to today's youth. I believe I mentioned this before, but we have 78 students on board this year all united with the same purpose - Protect the Poles, Protect the Planet.

But some students aren't just content to stop at participating in this expedition. Today, a number of them gathered together to plan out a video promoting the IYY celebrations and how they feel about their role in protecting the environment. It's a really uplifting moment to sit there and watch these young people in action. Even though myself and three other staff were there to guide them along and keep them on track, this video is ALL youth-driven, from the storyboarding to filming and editing. Can't wait to see the final product.

This afternoon was our second Pod Team meeting. Pod Teams are a part of SOI's educational component. Students are divided up into teams of 7 or 8, with two staff. In those smaller groups, it is easier for some of the less out-spoken students to get some dialogue going about the various issues we've been looking at, the sights we have seen, and to get to know each other a bit better. I'm teamed up with Jacqueline Phillips, a teacher and fellow educator on board. We've got a great Pod Team consisting of some bright and talented students - Hannah, Bradley, Joseph, Julie B., Estelle, Kamil and Lavinia. You can read their bios on the Students On Ice Arctic 2010 website. Tomorrow, we are continuing around the south eastern coast of Baffin Island. Geoff Green calls tomorrow an Expedition Day, which means he has no clue what we are going to do, where we are going to go. There's still no sign of large amounts of ice, but we are hoping there's some hiding in some fjord or cove somewhere that we can go explore. Perhaps some polar bears or whales will be spotted tomorrow.

Of course, it is the Perseid Meteor Shower tonight - although there's few chances of actually seeing some shooting stars, we're all wishing that tomorrow will bring some more exciting activity here in the Arctic!


Stay Tuned for Further Updates!


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