Arctic Expedition 2014

Follow the journey : July 9 - July 24

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sea Day - sail to Nanortalik, Greenland

Expedition Update

Today will be a day at sea as the expedition travels from Newfoundland & Labrador across the Labrador Sea to Nanortalik on the southern tip of Greenland.

Sea days are a great opportunity to participate in many fun and interesting workshops and today will begin with an introduction into the history and culture of Greenland from polar historian David Fletcher and Greenlandic educator Mikkel Lund.

Students will then break out into groups for discussions about the changing Arctic with each group focused on a different theme: people, politics, science and wildlife

After lunch workshops will continue covering a range of topics from the unique geology of the Arctic to the political climate to glacier simulation.

The day will close with a special presentation by geographer, author and polar historian James Raffan. In 2010 James embarked on a project to travel around the world at the Arctic Circle to put a human face on climate change.  Following nearly 3 years of travel, living and travelling with people in Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia, Russia, Alaska and Canada, James produced a book, Circling the Midnight Sun, which tells the story of what is happening at the leading edge of climate change and the adaptation of northerners. Students will have the change to hear James' stories and learn from his findings.

Then it's light's out  in preparation for our first day in Greenland!

 

Update from Expedition Leader Geoff Green:


It is hard to believe that our time in the Torngat Mountains National Park is behind us, and we are already en route to Greenland. The past 4 days have been truly unforgettable and exceeded our wildest expectations!  We feel incredibly privileged to have visited this timeless and powerful land.  Too many highlights to recount right now.  And I think we are all still trying to digest the awe and wonder we have experienced.  We've seen the King of the Arctic...Polar bears, Caribou, Seals and Whales (Pilot whales and Minke whales).  We have hiked to some mountain tops, fished for Arctic Char, learned from Inuit elders, navigated through sea ice, explored new areas that few have ever seen before, met amazing people, sang, danced, cried, laughed and so much more...

The expedition is off to a spectacular start!

Upon our arrival to Kuujuaq on Saturday we enjoyed a nice walking tour of the community and a BBQ at the Town Hall.  It was a beautiful day and many of our SOI alumni students from Kuujjuaq joined  us, including Anthony Arreak who spoke to our group and shared his SOI experience and how it impacted him.  It is always special to make this connection between our new and old SOI students!  Our alumni is now almost 2,700 youth from 52 countries, and many northern youth from all across the Arctic!

A big thank you to the community of Kuujjuaq, the Mayor and Recreation Department, the Northern Store, and especially Dave and Bruce and TIVI Inc. for their incredible support and assistance that made our visit to Kuujjuaq to successful.

After the BBQ it was time to hop on a school bus for the trip to the marina and the Zodiacs.  With the tide dropping we had to get to our gear and ourselves to the ship before 4pm or else wait until the next high tide.  After about an 8 mile zodiac ride and several hours of Zodiac transfers... we made it!  All aboard!

The excitement level went up another notch with the realization we were on our ship and on the verge of setting sail.  The afternoon was filled with unpacking, a Ship Safety Drill and other presentations.  Then just before dinner we raised the anchor and began making our way out the river towards Ungava Bay.

Dense pack ice in southern Ungava Bay meant that we had to negotiate our way eastward along the coast under the edge of the ice.  At about 9:00am the following morning, we were clear of the ice and made full speed to Killiniq, our first landing destination.   The morning was filled with various presentations and lectures on board, and just after lunch we arrived.  Conditions were perfect for a zodiac cruise and landing at the old village of Port Burwell, whose residents were relocated in the 1950's.  The students were able to literally walk through history and learned about this somewhat sad chapter of the region.  However, Whit Fraser also told a story that brought happy tears to almost everyone of us, when he shared a true and remarkable love story that had began here many years ago.  A story very close to his own heart.

Later that evening, in fog and light rain, we went out on Zodiac cruise in the remote Button Islands.  It was a mysterious, moody and exciting night.

Overnight we traveled south and entered the Torngat Mountains National Park.  Due to heavy ice conditions further south along the coast, we adjusted our plans and headed for Eclipse Sound.  What a place!  We anchored just after breakfast and soon spotted our first Polar bear on shore.  James Raffan and I took a scout boat ashore to check out a possible landing site, and we discovered one of the most amazing places I have ever been.  A deep river gorge that cut into the landscape appeared as we near the shore. We were able to take our Zodiac up the river with 60 ft high rock walls on both sides. About a half-mile up the river, we rounded a bend to discover the most beautiful waterfall, and Peregrine Falcons nesting in the nearby cliffs.  It took our breath away.

We spend the morning here, and on shore divided into various workshop groups, focused on everything from beachcombing, songwriting, Inuit craft-making, and inter-tidal treasures, to oceanographic sampling in the zodiacs.  Our second polar bear was spotted walking on shore as we departed Eclipse Sound and made our way to our afternoon destination.

We attempted a landing at Iron Strand, but the fog was to heavy making visibility poor and dangerous for spotting Polar bears. So we went around to Ryan's Bay where we found clear skies and another Polar bear on the shore.  The decision was made to drop the Zodiacs and go cruising down the Bay and get a closer look at the bear.  For the next 1 1/2 hours we traveled the 5 mile length of Ryan's Bay and had a great encounter with one bear that was swimming and diving along the shore line.  It seemed quite unconcerned about our presence and went about its business, until we continued our journey further down the Bay.  We returned to the ship hungry, excited and happily tired after a very full day!

After getting an updated ice report, we decided to head towards Komaktorvik Fiord for our second day in the Torngats. The following morning we anchored at the end of the Fiord in very dense fog.  We decided to wait it out.  And shortly after breakfast the stunning landscape around us started to reveal itself.  Plans A, B, C, D and E...soon became Plan F, when the blue skies and sunshine unveiled a most spectacular scene.  We decided to head to shore where we spent the next 5+ hours hiking to a 1000 foot ridge with a 360 degree view that could not be described.  Time was lost.  We were all just immersed in the moment and connected to the natural world in which we found ourselves.  It was pure joy, fresh air, discovery, elation and peace all mixed together.  Before we knew it it was almost 3pm and after a polar swim for some, we headed back to the ship for a late lunch.

As we departed some caribou were spotted swimming across the fiord. We made the decision to head further south along the coast to find the ice edge.  The Captain navigated our ship through islands and shoals along what is undoubtedly one of the most incredible and least visited shorelines in the World. It was impossible to leave the deck.  We poked our nose into Nachvak Fiord just before dinner, and then reached the sea ice we had been following for the past few days.   It was such a beautiful day that all of our briefings and meetings were held outside on deck, including our evening re-cap and briefing.  A palpable sense of celebration was in the air.  Already students and staff are performing and sharing and we are truly a team and family on board.  It was 10:30pm when our briefing concluded. Then what happened was quite extraordinary.

I thought we were seeing an iceberg on the horizon with the reflection of the sunset.  But the iceberg started to grow!  And we then realized that the iceberg was the moon!!!  The largest moon I have ever seen rose on the ocean horizon. It was burning orange and you could see the dark craters on its surface.  It was like a giant hot air balloon was taking flight in front of us.  In a karmic way, it was a very fitting finale to two of the best days in the history of Students on Ice.

I need to stop here.  And will write again soon, to describe the wonderful day we spent yesterday at the Torngat Mountains National Park Basecamp.   We are still digesting and reflecting on what was an unforgettable experience... and our last expedition day in Labrador. So stay tuned...

Everyone is great.  We have such an incredible group of students and staff on board.  The journey continues....

In the expedition spirit,
Geoff

 


Visitor Experience Manager Gary Baikie with Torngat Mountains National Park and Parks Canada sponsored students
Photo (c) Martin Lipman

Farewell night in the Torngats, SOI farewell celebration with Parks Canada, traditional brass band and Inuit leaders - Photo (c) Martin Lipman

 

Student Journals - July 17, 2014

PANINNGUAQ BOASSEN
Sisimiut, Greenland

I have begun missing home, but not badly. Everything is beautiful, but I have seen similar things.

So far in our journey we have seen three polar bears, and that is probably my three first polar bears in my life, so there are still some new things to come.

It's fun to be out in the zodiacs - especially when they are fast. Yesterday we were on a small beach, and after fishing a bit we prepared to go hiking. There were 4 groups that had different speeds, and I took the slowest one. I didn't reach the top, but I got over half way and I still got a good view, so that was satisfying, and the ones that had been on the top said there were mosquitoes, so that makes me even more satisfied. When we got down some people went in the water by the beach, but I had tested the temperature of the water before we went up so I definitely knew I wasn't going in because the windspeed had increased. That was good, because then I could fish for a while without having to share the fishing rod with anyone.

It was a little different with a morning, afternoon and evening-briefing outside at the front deck of the ship - I'm sorry I'm not a ship-person so I don't know its right name.

We got to try some fish eggs that had been mixed with oil and water and stirred together for two hours, and then with some fruits in it. It was good, but of course there were some people that didn't like it.

I have had my first signs of seasickness, but a have handled it so far without medicine (I haven't thrown up or anything mention-worthy). So now I have decided I will take a pill before we cross over the sea to Greenland - just to be safe.

Today we are making our way into base camp in the Torngat Mountains. I'm writing this at 9 in the morning, so I can't really write about this day yet.

I'm having fun, and I'm hoping you are having fun too.

 

JASMINE CANAVIRI-LAYMON
Brampton, Ontario

Today was our first full day at sea. The best thing about today was not the interesting presentation (albeit it did draw a lot of participation), nor the fun workshop where I made something similar to sillyputty to learn about icebergs; no, it was the time being able to sit on a calm day where we can reflect. Despite how fun it is going on all these adventures, all the while exploring the North, it is nice to just have time to relax and think without any pressure. What is even better in this state is that you can just absorb more than you normally would.

Now may I mention as I write this (it's July 18th, yes, I am slow) these pilot whales just passed by and they were amazing to see.

Anyways, today (or maybe I should say yesterday now since I you know, let the cat out of the bag) - so yesterday was very interesting and I overall loved the way that we were able to not just see and take in but learn more without any rush. It made you think that even if the world is in a rush and that time is of the essence, you still had the opportunity to think and relfect. With all the presentations going on and no sense of urgency to get out on the Zodiac and on land, it allowed me to think about the presentations.

I got to learn more on climate change (you know, other than what you learn in school) and I got to think of different ways that we can make a sustainable future. Now I know that we can't start from scratch - learning history has taught me that we need to know the mistakes of our past to not do it again - and that it would be impossible to start from scratch - think of it this way, we can't suddenly make glaciers and ice sheets as big as they were before. No, but we can have optimism and work together to make a better future for our future generations.


 

JILLIAN CERULLO
Scituate, Rhode Island

Today we didn't do much, we're on the ship and we won't be making a landing in 2 or 3 more days. I still miss everyone from home so much and I love you. Also, from Labrador to Ecuador, Happy 30th birthday to Sarah from her loving dad and students on ice.

~Jill

 

TANYA CHEN
Montreal, Quebec

From Labrador to Ecaudor,

Happy 30th Birthday to Sarah Gray (David's daughter) from her loving dad and Students on Ice!


 

MINA CHING
San Francisco, California

I write from the beginning of a full day at sea. Already today, breakfast has been eaten, a pod of pilot whales has been spotted, and the sea has rocked us around in a way that threatens to put me to sleep. We've been quite busy these last two days, and I see that our schedule looks just as full today despite the lack of zodiac cruises.

I should write more often so that I have more space to describe each event, but there hasn't been enough time recently and I'm always worn out from the day's activities. I'm attempting to convey a sense of this expedition, but everything is happening so fast, and nothing is unimportant, so in my mind, all has flown together in a blur.

The beginning of this latest sequence starts on our first day in Torngat Mountains National Park. This day both began and ended with a polar bear. One, our first, appeared at our breakfast as a distant white dot with barely discernable legs and the other we saw diving on our pre-dinner zodiac cruise. We also were graced with a third, midday polar bear that strolled along the shore and into the sea. Looking back, the bears seem somewhat symbolic, of something, though I haven't quite figured out what they stand for. They are other occupants of this land, and somehow, even with their immense strength they seem very similar to us humans. They are curious, they learn, they can adapt, and they are used to being at the top of their food chain - which we, used to that spot ourselves, find unsettling.

In our polar bear safety video, too many of the defense tactics sounded like "Wait until the bear realizes you are human. It will hopefully go away. If it doesn't...say your goodbyes and "fight for your life!" Fighting with bears, piece of cake, yes? They are so often the face of climate change and yet, here, their populations are increasing: they are moving inland, some now hunt river fish like brown bears, and others have learned to catch seals on the shore instead of on ice. I wonder what else will be able to adapt? And will it be enough for survival?

 

WYLEE FITZ-GERALD
Surrey, British Columbia

10:10 there was a sighting of pilot whales. I ran out on deck and was looking up to see them when I should've been looking down. The entire deck is a shallow pool from the rain, but it was worth it for sure. I just saw the pictures of the fox we saw and I think about my mom. It has a beautiful black face with alternating fur patterns. There was a baby as well but no pictures of it as far as I know.

An introduction to Greenland took place right after breakfast this morning. I learned that the sledding dogs are only north of the Arctic circle. They do this to keep breeds separate and keep the sledding dogs a pure breed. They need their dogs to withstand the conditions and be incredibly strong.

We also did our first bottle drop! I am number 035 and hopefully someone finds mine. We sealed them in wax and threw them into the ocean one by one. The exact locations were recorded and it is to assist in oceanography studies while adding a touch of fun. Most bottles have been found in Scotland so hopefully mine will be the 1 in 4 that makes it.

So last I knew Navarana was playing soft music off her phone and giving me a head massage. I fell asleep quite quickly and I woke to clapping. I was leaning over to look at someone's paper and the entire couch section I was on flipped off. It was extremely embarrassing as everyone looked up and asked if I was okay. I went very red of course being my typical self.

This ties in to how my night turned out. See before I went to sleep I took off my shoes so I could put my feet up. When I awoke they weren't there and I didn't think much of it as I figured someone had just put them in the lost and found. At dinner I received my first poem/coded message that began me on my search for my lost converse. I had Geoff helping me look in the bridge and in the dinning room I was under tables. It was quite the clever trick I had to admit and everyone had a good laugh. I missed my salad and my soup though. It turned out the last clue led me back to where I had fell on my butt in front of everyone and inside the couch part was my shoes. I shook my head at the trick and had some stern words for Addison. It was all in good nature though and we joked over our main dish. I'll get him back though. I'm plotting already.

I joined the Glaciers workshop and I see ice in a completely new way now. Seeing pictures of huge icebergs that are like skyscrapers and learning that only 1% of an iceberg is above water blew me away! We learned alot of classification of ice and how glaciers are constantly moving. We made Gak which is a substance that isn't classified as a solid liquid or gas to simulate how Glaciers move and work. I also learned about the very interesting mating tactics of the Arctic hare. They really like dried apples as well.

"The elders of the world are like the old growth forests of the mind we need to protect them and learn from them"- a great quote to start off Don's presentation today. He briefly talked about how the Labrador Sea is where the iceberg came from that sank the Titanic and we should take a moment to think of this as we pass through it. He went on to tell his life story. This man has had a life unlike any other! He's lived through all the most important moments of the mid 1900's and watched the world sort of form to what it is today.

He was aboard the first submarine called the Trieste that dove down to Challengers Deep which is the deepest part of the Marianas Trench. He dove down to the Titanic and various other regions. He explained these experiences as if they were any other day in a sub. He talked about the 2% of the oceans floor that is deeper than 20,000 feet and the worlds push to make design better crafts. I think my dad would love to meet him because my father is in love with submarine stories.

Don said he feels like a spider trying to keep a foot on every web so he knows what is going on. He is apart of the Ocean Elders and is a consultant on various countries deep water developments. He talked about how the submarines now have only been more or less a variation of the first. I have been sitting with him as often as possible to hear his tales and hope to learn lots more about history through his first hand experiences.

It was also recognized tonight that on this ship we have a person, JF, who has been to the highest tip of the world, mount Everest, and someone, Don, who has been to the deepest parts of our world, the Mariana Trench. I also am very much interested in Mike Beedells life. He was showing me videos of all the times he goes swimming with whales, which is apparently very often for him. There is so much experience here and the best thing to do is listen.

We are travelling the same route as the Vikings did as we make our way to Greenland. Apparently we are following so closely to the pattern it is almost exactly the same longitudes and latitudes. We lose another hour tonight though so I must go to bed. Hopefully by tomorrow night we will spot land!


 

ALEKSANDER GODLEWSKI
Rothesay, New Brunswick

Yesterday, we spent our last day in Labrador. It's funny which particular moments or feelings you know will stick in your mind. We've seen some truly incredible landscapes on this expedition, travelling down the Labrador coast, but for me I think I will remember St. John's harbour in taste, sound, and the warmth of the people we met. The taste? Cool spring water running down from the mountains. Despite the cold, I couldn't resist dipping my face underneath to drink from the source. Fresh arctic char, cooked on the beach, and bannock, hot over a rock stove. Eating,sitting on the beach and watching the sea ice in the harbour, is an image that will be in my mind for a long time.

The sounds of the Torngats, and Nunatsiavut? A brass band greeting our zodiac as it touched down on the beach. The voices of two elders, telling us the history of this place. Two members of our expedition throat singing on deck as the sun began to set, colours painting the mountains. Even the deafening blaring of the ship's horn as we set out on to the water.

The people we've met have been incredible, warm, welcoming, taking us in with open arms. It's hard to describe how you come to grow and respect an individual, and I doubt I could do it effectively in the short time and space I have here.

Yesterday was a day full of those little moments of feeling that seem to be bursting with importance. Standing on the ships bow as we left the fjord, I watched the sea ice drift by. One of the people I was standing with commented on the sunset behind the dark mountains and how, if reversed, the sky looked like pink mountains against a dark sky. Watching the darkness, the ice slid silently by - again, it's difficult to articulate how that sublime moment felt. The wind drawing me finally inside, I sung with and listened to some of the incredible musicians on board late into the brief arctic night, and I was awake to see the glow of the sun rise again. A good friend of mine sings a song about the moments when you stay awake, unwilling to leave your friends for sleep, taking in each second (If you're interested in hearing it, you can search for the band - Cellarghost - online). I'm thinking of it now, as an echo of the feeling I felt.

Today, we're at sea and surrounded by fog and horizon.

It's been a great chance to learn, relax and reflect - now onward to Greenland, and new adventures


 

STEVEN JIA
Mississauga, Ontario

Today was our first full day at sea and we were still kept as busy as ever.

To start it off, Noel gave a talk on marine fish and on how he became a ichthyologist. There was a lot I never knew, like how the depletion of northern cod stocks led to the establishment of the Greenland halibut as the dominant predator of the northern Atlantic. Mikkel and two students from Greenland presented afterwards about their homeland. Apparently high school students in Greenland get paid to go to school and can attend university for free (but of course working adults pay proportionally more income tax). Bianca also opened the floor on climate change with her lecture. Although it was the first time the expedition really dove into the topic, anyone could see that many students were passionate about the growing issue given the many questions that followed. Even Geoff became worked up!

Since we were at sea, the opportunity for the annual bottle drop also arose. Supposedly one in twenty-five are found and the ones that are, sometimes have amazing stories associated with them. I filled out two messages and capped two bottles. I didn't get to toss my bottles yet however, as there were over 100 to be dropped and we only did numbers one to sixty.

In the afternoon, David presented on Arctic mammals. I found the content incredibly insightful, since so much of the animal behaviour he talked about was very uncommon knowledge. For example, the offspring of a hare meets with their mother every eighteen and a half hours at a different location to suckle milk. This biologically timed mealtime is designed to make it more difficult for foxes to find and potentially attack the small hares when they are feeding. In contrast, Arctic wolves leave their pups, go out to make a kill, and then travel back to bring their pups to the killsite. Since large mammals are so sparse in the tundra, this arrangement works for the wolves.

The final presentation of the night was by Don, the first man to reach the bottom of the Marianas Trench. He presented about various submersibles, explained how the original design worked, and even talked about his experience working with James Cameron. The night ended with music and videos, and off to bed we went.

 

DYLAN MAGNER
Toronto, Ontario

From Labrador to Ecaudor,

Happy 30th Birthday to Sarah Gray from her loving dad and Students on Ice!

Today was also our first full day at sea, as we have begun sailing to Greenland across the Labrador Sea. As we could not leave the ships via zodiac, today was jam packed with fascinating workshops such as glacier simulation, presentations on a variety of subjects such as the behaviour of Arctic mammals, as well as the traditional Students On Ice bottle drop.

 

 

STEPHANIE MASTRO
Katy, Texas

From Labrador to Ecuador- Happy 30th birthday to Sarah Gray from her loving dad and Students on Ice!


 

AUSTIN MCPHERSON
Churchill, Manitoba

Students on Ice Day 9 - It's our first full day at sea as we head towards Greenland and out of Canada. Surprisingly I did not get seasick at all. Just felt a little more tired than usual.

It was a very interesting day filled with workshops and speeches from the various researchers and scientists on board. Tomorrow will be another day mostly at sea though we should see land late in the day. Can't wait to arrive in Greenland and explore the various communities and historical sites we will be visiting.

As usual I'm still missing my family at back in Churchill. I know they will be worrying about me. Just want to say to them that I'm fine and having the time of my life. Love you all and can't wait to get home to share this amazing adventure.

 

AUDREY MORIN
Saint-Félix-de-Kingsey, Quebec

Aujourd'hui, c'était notre première journée complète sur mer, en direction vers le Groenland. Après ces trois jours passés dans le Parc National des Monts-Torngat, c'est différent de regarder dehors et de ne voir que la mer àl'horizon. 

Notre horaire était essentiellement composé de présentations et d'ateliers. C'était fort diversifié, passant de la vie au Groenland par les différentes espèces de poissons en arctique jusqu'aux changements climatiques. Lors de mon atelier, j'ai poursuivi mon projet de broderie Inuit, il est presque terminé. 

Depuis le début de l'expédition, certaines personnes m'ont demandé que je les aide à pratiquer leur français. Puisque pour moi il est important de partager cette richesse qu'est ma langue maternelle, j'ai organisé un souper lors duquel on discutait en français. Environ trente personnes ont participé. Merci à tous d'avoir rendu les échanges aussi intéressants, vos efforts ou votre expertise ont fait de cette activité une réussite!


 

MICHAELA NORGREN
Ottawa, Ontario

Today is our first Sea Day. We are currently crossing the Labrador sea, heading towards south-western Greenland. This morning consisted of an "Intro to Greenland" presentation, then we started working on the bottle drop project. This is a very cool project. We all wrote a message in a bottle and later today we will drop them in the ocean to see where the water currents take them. Seven bottles from last year have already been found in many European countries. I also did some more interviews this morning. These interviews were quite different from the ones I did in Ottawa. To start, they were both done over satellite phone, so I had to stand outside in the rain in order to get a signal. I also did a live radio interview for the first time, which is really exciting! This afternoon, there will be some interesting workshops and a climate change presentation. Hopefully we will arrive in Greenland sometime tomorrow evening.

 

JOSEE STREET
Ottawa, Ontario

I've had a long couple days, going from seeing these views from a desktop background to actually breathing and smelling it all around me. Two days ago, we went on a hike that made me want to rip my legs off, but when we got to the top of the mountain, it was definitely worth all the wheezing and burning in my legs. I've learned a lot in that one day like, like hiking is not for me and sometimes its good to be by yourself and truly appreciate the world around you. Look, I know the rest of the blogs are going to be about 'breathing this' and 'amazing that' and after awhile it's going to repeat itself. Mine will probably sound like that so I don't really know why I'm writing this one. For my mother I guess.

I've really stepped out of my comfort zone since the day I went to Carleton, coming to realize that my comfort zone is a lot bigger then I thought.

I'm happy here. Wherever here is, but I'm also kind of sad.

Three days ago, we took the Zodiac to the Torngat Mountains (a place where I heard nobody had been for decades), there we split into groups to go do different activities of our choosing. I went to the beach combers group where we walked down the waterfront and looked for anything interesting (everything). We found bones of rabbits, outer shells of these shrimp things, a water bottle, and other trash-like objects. I've started to think about the trash in our waters like trash in someone's house; because that's what it is. I don't really know what else to say because I'm arguing in my head right now. Things like

'I can make a difference'

'You are up against some of the most powerful people'

'You're preaching to people who are already on your side, the people who are causing the most damage are blinded by money and greed'

I hate over-thinking things and this took me a while to write from conflicting arguments from different opinions I make up. End of story, I think I have found my calling. Even though I am miles away from my family and friends, (in between Labrador and Greenland) I am home.

Hi mom, say hi to the cats for me will ya xo

And I saw a polar bear and THAT WAS SO COOL.

 

EMMANUEL TSE
Port Coquitlam, British Columbia

 A Day at Sea

What struck me the most was the fact that students get paid 400 Canadian dollars each month to go to school in highschool and 800 to post-secondary. They also mostly travel between towns with boats or airplanes because of the lack of roadway connections, and the highest salary bracket has to pay 64% tax. However, they also share a lot of hobbies and popular sports but obviously with a more wintery inclination, including handball, soccer, basketball and the acclaimed cross-country ski Arctic Circle Race.

Following lunch, our group participated in the bottle drop, which is a project that we do to study and verify ocean current patterns depending if these bottles are collected and the information is sent back. Our group was super enthusiastic and virtually after each drop the crowd went wild, which was pretty cool.

There were also really awesome and interesting talks, including an "A-qua"lity Arctic Marine Fishes of Canada, their incredible adaptability and importance in the foodweb. I also got a bit of review on Climate Change as well as the Mammals of the Arctic and their behaviour, which helped me more appreciate the ecosystem. The well-established and humorous Don Walsh also shared his adventures exploring the deep sea through submersibles.

I wouldn't call it my favourite day because, despite wanting a little bit of a break, I felt stuck on a rocky ship, and seasickness was on and off throughout. Thankfully, it did eventually get better, but I also became more thankful for the other days of health and zodiac cruises.

 

BRYANT YANG
Thornhill, Ontario


I think I need a need a name for that time period after you wake up, but you are still in bed sleeping because you are too lazy to get up. My alarm was set for an hour before writing this, and I managed to sleep that entire hour. I still don't know how, or if I am ever, going to get up early enough to do the early morning exercises.

Anyway, the best gift I got yesterday were these mosquito bites. Even with a bug net and bug spray on, I still managed to get 3, which are all on my left side of the body (and the face and neck region). In my defense, they were everywhere, to the point where everyone had mosquitoes landing on them except for one person. The SOI expedition went to the Torngats national park.

We had a nice hike to a waterfall, which had fresh water to drink from. Due to my extreme hate for the chlorinated water on the ship, I decided to drink an entire water bottle (1L) just to fill that bottle with water. After the hike finished, we got a tour of the base camp, which was housing for the visitors to the national park and research buildings.

After our mosquito ridden walks, we decided to have lunch on the beach... with the mosquitoes flying around everywhere ... biting people. It was not a smart idea, except for the fact that I discovered that arctic char tastes pretty good. I blame everyone who made that decision.

After the mosquito buffet, we split off into groups. One group stayed at the base and talked to the elders of aboriginal tribes, and another group took an easy hike (and saw animals like foxes, which I wanted to see). My group was the third group which decided to take a hike up to the top of a mountain. Why I decided the hardest hike was for me, I will never understand.

Surprisingly, there were a lot mosquitoes on the trail, and I managed to come down the mountain alive. Once back on shore, we finally went back to the ship for some quiet time before dinner and heading back out for a bonfire.

Dinner was nice, and it started raining so we could not have our bonfire outside. Because we had to say farewell to some people that were leaving, we decided to have our goodbye party in the ship. There was a lot of music and I was cheering really loud.

Once it was over, we said goodbye to who we needed to on the deck, and waved them goodbye as the ship begin to sail away to Greenland (finally leaving Canada for once). They shot fireworks for us (surprising to me) and the ship's horn almost blew my ears out.

That brings me to now. More bitten, wanting more sleep, and probably going to sleep a lot more today because the boat is rocking like crazy. I really need a scale to see if I am getting fatter from all the good food I was eating.