Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Sondrestrom Fiord, Greenland
Today day will be packed full of adventure as we cruise around the Evigheds Fjord by Zodiac and enjoy day hikes and workshops to learn more about the ecology of this area. Located near Kangaamiut, the name Evigheds Fjord means "Forever Fjord" because as soon as you think you have reached the end of it, the fjord continues.
In the afternoon, expeditioners will engage in Arctic Hour - an opportunity to share experiences and how each of us can leverage our expedition experiences to make a difference in world on a local or global level.
This final evening onboard the expedition vessel will end with a celebration of the journey through photos, a talent show and a special appearance by a surprise guest!
Zodiacs in the Evigsfjord - Photo (c) Lee Narraway
Zodiacs cruise along the base of a receeding glacier - Photo (c) Lee Narraway
Anna photographs an iceberg in the Fiord of Eternity (Evigsfjord) - Photo (c) Lee Narraway
Students witness the power of a collapsing glacier - Photo (c) Lee Narraway
Students zodiac among the loose ice - Photo (c) Lee Narraway
Student Journals - July 22, 2014
I started today feeling awesome from the extra sleep we had during the night. Our first presentation began with David Gray with the Canadian Arctic Expedition. I really admired his passion and how he went beyond to try his best for the recognition of the Arctic expedition disaster in the 1910's. He got social media to get the word out, he did a lot of fundraising since the government didn't put money towards it's 100th anniversary. He looked at the Arctic expedition as a successful journey instead of just a disaster.
We arrived in Nuuk earlier than expected, thanks to our wonderful captain, who found a short cut. During workshop hour I finished my block painting, rolling the inked picture on a blank sheet of paper. Since this only took a few minutes I went to another workshop to finish my polar bear magnet with Annie that I started last week. We did the sewing outside on deck and it was calming to hear the busy dock and people passing by on speed boats and people waving at us. My bear magnet is so colourful but I still have yet to complete it.
After lunch we were all hyped up, getting ready to explore Nuuk. As we got off the ship, I noticed that it was a large place, knowing it had a population of 17,000 people. There were a lot of people, a bunch of taxi's cruising around. We walked the streets, it was a different view compared to nature, which we've been seeing lately but it was still really interesting. It amazed me that there are so many Inuit living there, when most places with majority of the population being Inuit, are usually small towns. A friendly elderly couple, stray dogs and two young boys interested in our group all reminded me of home.
We went Greenland's National Museum and seen the Inuit clothing, hunting tools, travel, medical equipment, a small area showing Greenlandic home back in the day. It really illustrated an image as to what life was like back then. The highlight was reading about the Qilakitsoq people and then actually seeing their mummified bodies. I found it incredibly creepy but I liked to see what how and what these people were buried in. I went to a cute cafe and got a delicious strawberry ice cream cone.
Since Innunguaq is from Nuuk he gave us the tour to the parliament. His step mother is the Premier of Greenland. We were given the honour of looking at the building and sitting inside what would be called the house of commons or speaking room and we even got to sit in the seats. It was more modern than I expected but I found it cool. Then we went shopping at the NC Nuuk Centre, it was a cute mall with just two floors. I didn't have any kroners so I got other people to buy the items for me, thanks to them or I would not have gifts to take back to my family. We were pretty late getting back to the ship so we rushed back. When we got on the Sea adventurer we got ready to say goodbye to Shirley, who is known for her spectacular job at role call but if it wasn't for her, I would not be here so it was sad to part. But other than that, today was one that I'll always remember.
Our final full day aboard the ship could not have gone better. After arriving in the Fjord of Eternity in the morning, we took Zodiacs out to go bird watching. There was a huge cliffside home to thousands of birds! The kittiwakes made their presence clear with their distinctive calls and it was awesome to see the thick-billed murres attempt take-offs from the water. As Garry Donaldson previously mentioned in his presentation about Arctic birds, the places they roost, like the cliffside, are brimming with plant life. There must be a lot of "natural fertilizer" to go around!
Ian Tamblyn, our wonderful musician and Zodiac driver, took us to near the glacier. Unlike the first one we saw in Greenland, this glacier reached all the way to the water. While everyone was snapping pictures, we heard thunder and gunshot-like sounds in the direction of the glacier. In less than thirty seconds, A PART OF THE GLACIER COLLAPSED! Another part of the glacier fell as well, causing a large wave to propagate towards our Zodiac that made us rock quite a bit. When I watched videos of similar occurrences in science class, it was hard to truly experience the awe and fear of what I saw. Seeing it in real life made those sentiments materialize in a way a video never could. Those moments were one of the best highlights of the expedition and in a way, it reminded us that our need to protect the poles is more pressing than ever.
After that tremendous event, we headed over to our landing site which was near another glacier. The meltwater from the glacier fed a bunch of streams that congregated and diverged along a floodplain. Mary and I wrote "SOI" in huge letters in the mud and walked around. The mud was like quicksand, making it extremely fun but also tricky to walk in. At one point, Nava caught a fellow student from a complete frontal wipeout.
We gathered into our pods later to form "connection circles" and share our thoughts about what we learned from the expedition and what we would take away from it. A lot of great perspectives and ideas for potential future projects resulted from the dialogue. I'll love to see where we go with them! In our very limited time of thirty minutes to explore, I hiked to the glacier to see its grand scale up close. Then it was time for another polar dip (this time, we were really in Arctic waters) and I made sure to take off my glasses before diving in. Was it freezing? No debate there. But it was totally worth it and a great way to finish off the morning.
The afternoon and evening held a whole series of presentations and performances that made everyone very emotional. It was great to hear the wonderful original songs and covers and even see Geoff himself lead a retro performance. We thanked the ship staff, the SOI staff, and everyone who was on the expedition because they really deserved it. Although the expedition was not quite over, this night was definitely one of the most sleep-deprived and inspiring nights I've ever had.
P.S. Shoutout to the Variety Show team for making tonight so memorable!
(Oh gosh I really haven't written a blog in such a long time like since we got on the ship...)
We reached Greenland today!!
After breakfast I was walking around the deck and I saw a branch of a glacier. It was a relatively small piece though, compared to the view we saw next. We all cramped onto the front deck and I was just amazed by the strech of white and blue in front of me. It was so near to our ship too, that I felt like I was dreaming. But then we actually loaded into zodiacs and headed to the glacier!!It was even more stunning when it was right in front of my eyes. I got a bottle of glacier water and tasted a piece of ice by the shore.
In the afternoon we docked at a town called Nanortalik (WOW like first time we don't need zodiacs). This town is literally the prettiest town that I've visited in my entire life. Every house there was painted in pretty colors and there where dandelions and flowers everywhere. I seriously want to live here when I'm old like 60 or 70 like that:)
In the morning we visited an abandoned mine and town. At first I was not interested in those old houses with left furniture and stuff in there. But as I went into more and more of them, I suddenly realized how amazing it is to see the remnants of those Greenlandic people that had lived here before. We were like tracing their footprints and memories. There was a room I went into that a chair was the only piece of furniture and the rest of the room was filled by magazines, textbooks, and newspapers in the Greenlandic language.
After walking around in the abadoned town, it was workshop time. I chose to do the phytoplankton and zooplankton sampling with Daniele. It was so much fun!!
Today we docked in the capitol of Greenland, Nuuk.
And also I finally finished the owl I started 4 days ago in the Inuit sewing workshop!!
We visited a museum that explained some of Greenland's history and there were exhibits of their traditional clothing and seal skin. We also went into the Parliament, which didn't look like a parliament from the outside at all. There was a room we went into that had many seats and microphones.
After all, I found out that Nuuk is a very modern city and I would love to visit it again sometime .
Today is our last day on the ship:(
In the morning we visited the bird cliff and glaciers. I was amazed by how many birds were on the cliff! At first I only recognized the ones that were flying but then I noticed that there were so many more in the cracks just standing there. Their noises were so powerful! Then our zodiacs drove towards the glacier that was near the bird cliff. During the 20 or so minutes we were there, we saw huge pieces fall off the glacier and make a big splash in the water. Then a big flock of birds came around the place that the ice fell off (to feed on the copepods and things that came up with the water). It was the most stunning encounter with nature I've had so far.
Tonight we will have a farewell dinner and a celebration. And I will have to go pack now.
Port Coquitlam, British Columbia
On the 22nd, I got to see a glacier crack and its effective calving as it resulted in large chunks of ice fall off. These were located in the fjord of eternity, caleld the Evighed Fjords., This was pretty incredible as it resulted in enormous waves coming our way as chunks of ice fell.
We also got to go on a zodiac cruise to admire relatively-large teal-tinted icebergs. As well, we passed by a whole cliff littered with birds from thick billed murres to Arctic loons. It was cool to see the different species, and the closer I looked at the cliff, the surrounding waters and sky, the more overwhelming was the sheer amount of the birds. In our little pod groups, we formed connection circles to discuss our favourite aspects of the expedition, improvements, observations and our future plans to respond to our expedition. I think this was really important because it helped us listen to different perspectives from different backgrounds. We also did our Arctic Dip version 2, which was refreshing as expected.
The day ended with talks from students in the group who shared their future goals in impacting their community in various fashions and past involvements. It was really inspirational to listen to the different passions and personal stories they shared, from environmental advocacy to mental health awareness. Three thinsg really stood out to me. Firstly, if there is a problem, don't complain, do something about it. Secondly, often times society values the bigger accomplishments at a global value, but the activities and committments at a family or community level are equally if not more importantly. Lastly, I was reminded to just put myself out there and give things a shot.
On the last full day on the ship, what was so foreign at the start of living on ship became a normality. I guess the phrase, "we're all in the same boat (or ship)" really rings true. When you're positioned to really get to know the people on the ship, you feel passionate and understanding of the different cultures of the student group because on the ship, you develop the best type of ship, friend-ship.
Also, I've realised how fortunate and blessed we have been, with fog uplifting right when we go zodiac cruising, our captain who takes a risk and travels slightly unchartered waters and takes shortcuts, whale sightings that were accidental and good calm waters throughout the entire trip.