(all photos by Lee Narraway)
James Day practices the Inuit High Kick on the stern deck
Victoria Wee, Coquitlam, B.C.
Yesterday night, after our daily dose of evening festivities, I ran up to the top deck of the ship. Usually during the day, you can find a wide variety of characters prowling the deck, snapping photos, propping up dropping jaws, doing ‘the dougie’, and everything and anything in between. But late last night the deck was deserted. The sky was dark and astoundingly enough, I could not see a single star. All I could see was a brilliant streak of color painting the edge of the horizon on the starboard side. Instead of trying to artificially describe the sight with terms and superlatives that I know will never capture it, I'll leave the rest to your imagination. Think asymmetrical. Think crimson. Think glorious. Think... well, if you're in any sort of the same mind-state that I'm in right now, you're already mind blown.
Michael Gardiner, Torbay, NL
It’s August second, only five days left. The quote from the trip that is stuck in my head today is “an expedition is curiosity acted upon”. To me this is a great example of the atmosphere on the ship. When your home it is easy to get caught up in a routine but here everyday is different. The schedule on the ship is subject to change; it accepts that when the fog is in we stay on the boat, when the students are sick time is allotted for a break. This flexibility is a testament to how beneficial responding to our surroundings can be. Here when nature says no, we say ok and change the plans. I feel that if this way of thinking was adapted to the world we live in we could learn so much from our surroundings and the natural systems that have had millions of years to figure themselves out.
David Gray describes a narwhal tusk to Ilona Morel and Allie Hrabchak
Ilona Morel, Monaco
Yesterday we had our first contact with Greenland (and also our last one...). I think our ship was the attraction of the week for this little village. I will remember this village forever. It was composed of many houses with bright colors as to remember summer time during the cold frozen winter. The landscape was so beautiful that i just can't find a way to describe it. Moreover the welcome was really warm and I think most of the village came to see us because they were pushed by curiosity. As John said, "Normally they are used to seeing old faces getting off of a cruise ship". We have represented how youth can be implicated and concerned by global warming. You don't have to be a scientist to see that the earth needs help and that keeping that way of living is just killing our "Gentle blue planet" (as JR sang in his song). I learned a lot during this day.
JF Carrey teaches navigation to Isabella de la Houssaye
and Cassandra Elphinstone
Students in an Arctic Council workshop
George Sallerina, Gjoa Haven
Today is the first day I've blogged in about a week. I have had no time to blog because I've been having so much fun with my new friends. I have been seeing lots of new animals. I saw my first wild whale and there was a humpback whale, some fin whales and some dolphins just when we left Iceland. I've been performing drum dancing for the ship and also in the community we visited yesterday in Greenland. Today everybody threw me a surprise birthday and they gave me a card and a birthday cake. I also have been learning about the environment, water currents, and global warming. Tonight there is a drum dancing competition and I am in one group.
Ian Tamblyn gives Michael Gardiner some tips on song writing
Michael Gardiner, Torbay , NL
When we were first asked to connect the place where we live to the Arctic and how the Arctic relates to home I couldn’t think of anything more than sea level rise. However over the course of this trip I have learned a lot about how to easily connect the Arctic to my home in Newfoundland and Labrador. The first thing I learned just two days ago is that the Northern Peninsula in Newfoundland has most of the species found in the Arctic. This means that we can protect Arctic species by protecting the species in Newfoundland. Secondly I have always thought of the Inuit as a people who lived in the territories but I have met several Inuit who have told me of their lives in Labrador. These people are no longer to me far away and incredibly vulnerable. I can see that they are a part of my province. The Inuit aren’t a relic of the past they are here; they have a vibrant culture and are still part of Canada’s identity.
Angie Jo, Yongin-si, South Korea
Greenland is an apt name (at least in the summery southern fjords we've seen). The colours of this land aren't just green and blue, black and yellow, grey and white, but all of those colours intensified. The North feels like the birthplace of the cold colour palette-- as if the world had originally been created this way, and then as more and more people filled the world the colours bled out with them. The best blues are held in the underbellies of icebergs.
We've now left Greenland and are en route to Labrador, Canada. These "sea days" are strange times: nowhere new to go, running into the same people all the time. . . it reinforces the "stuck in the same boat" idea, literally. Maybe it's the fog, maybe it's just the time (already August???), but I find myself constantly thinking about family and home. And I don't think I'm alone-- a few days ago when we saw/touched/tasted that melting glacier in Greenland, I was wishing my family could see this this heart-stopping mountain in front of us. David, one of the Inuit members of the staff, made traditional rock sculptures at the base of the mountain. They were simple and stark, yet so fitting. He told me later that one of these sculptures (a series of five stones set in order of largest to smallest on a larger boulder) was for his five grandchildren. Other people have called home for the first time in a week, wanting to hear news from home. All the sweet Greenlandic children in the town we visited reminded me of my sisters, and a retriever barking on the dock reminded me of my own two dogs. If I could have one wish in the world right now, I'd first wish for two wishes. The first would be to stop the destruction of the Arctic, but the second would be to have my family here with me so we could stand in awe together.
Sara Falconer, Toronto, ON
We are family.
“Are any of you still under the impression that the cause of climate change is a source of debate in the scientific community?” asked oceanographer Eric Galbraith.
A few hesitant hands went up. Eric showed us the numbers that answered his question: of 928 scientific, peer-reviewed articles, 0 percent disputed the man-made causes of climate change. But he also showed us the same results for the popular press: of 636 articles, 53 percent expressed doubt about the causes.
We’re sailing across the Labrador Sea today, and although we still have about a week left on our voyage, we’re reflecting on what we’ve learned, and how to communicate the need to take action when we return home. It’s a huge challenge, with public perception so widely diverging from what scientists know.
My fabulous roommate, ecologist Paige Olmsted, echoed Eric’s concerns. In a recent UK study, more than half of the respondents thought that “biodiversity” was a type of detergent. Meanwhile, we are losing species at a rate up to 100 times higher than the natural rate of extinction, as WWF’s Living Planet Report shows [link to this]. Biodiversity impacts every living thing on Earth, and even though we are responsible for threatening it, many people don’t even know what it is.
It’s alarming, but not hopeless. The young environmental leaders on board our expedition can help end climate change and protect biodiversity. Later this year, Students on Ice will send a delegation to the Rio +20 talks. It’s an important step in building a future in which humans thrive with nature – after all, as Paige points out, we’re all in this together.
Eric Mattson lectures on a glacier formation on deck
Victoria Wee, Coquitlam, B.C.
I just came back on board from our landing at a Greenlandic community named Nanortalik. Nanortalik houses an open-air museum and I spent a lovely time tripping through the stone cottages and tall grass. After, I hiked through the area with David Grey. Our goal: to find age-old Viking ruins. We weren't able to get concrete directions so we swept the area more or less. The ground was uneven and there were small bumps and rolls and trickling rivulets and wild plants. I picked several plants and am planning to press them later tonight! It was interesting to learn that the circular lumps on the ground were formed due to melting and freezing action-- something I had learned in Geography class, but had always just seen in flat textbook photos. The first hint of the Vikings' existence appeared in the form of lumpy straw covered areas. It chills my blood to think that I stepped on straw that may have made their roofs! Further along, we found a rectangular, lichen and light vegetation covered rock slab jutting out of the ground. Given our rough directions and the rock's proximity to the straw, we think that it may be.... a Viking tombstone!
Stay tuned for further updates...
August 2 - Daily Updates & Scedule
Our intrepid team is half way across the Davis Strait - en route to Labrador - for the third leg of their incredible journey.
To see where they as of 12:00 PM EDT - click here.
All is well! And happily the seas are calm!
With the ship out of the Greenlandic fjords - we now have many photos and journals with you to share - and we are busily updating the site. Please check back this afternoon for those updates.
Here is a schedule of today's on board activities!
Happy Birthday George Sallerina!!!
8:00am – Yoga
8:30am – Breakfast
9:45am – Presentations:
- Climate Change Primer
- The Meaning of "Life"
- Overview of mock Arctic Council meeting
11:00am – Workshops:
1) The Arctic Council
2) Inuit Games
3) Skin & Bones
5) Music & Songwriting
6) Inuit Craftmaking & Sewing
7) Navigation & Map Reading
8) Marine Mammal Survey
12:30pm – Lunch
2:30pm – SKYPE Call with U.S. Department of State
3:30pm – Workshops:
1) Climate Change Solutions
2) Visual Art
3) Performance Art
4) Microscope work with plant samples
5) Polar Education Experiments
6) Journal Keeping Circle
7) Medical Scenarios
8) Marine Mammal Survey
5:00pm – Drift Bottle Drop
6:00pm – Presentation: Marine Protected Areas (Sabine)
7:00pm – Captain’s Reception
7:30pm – Dinner
9:00pm – Evening recap & briefing
Stay Tuned for more!