Arctic Expedition 2013

Follow the journey : July 23 - August 7

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Daily Journey Updates

Expedition Update

Friday, July 19, 2013

Ilulissat, Greenland

Update from Expedition Leader Geoff Green, 4pm

"The Sea Adventurer sighted the first icebergs at 10am local time; shortly afterwards, hundreds of icebergs were in view! The icebergs were joined by humpback whales, which came quite close to the ship. The team took some Zodiac cruises amongst the icebergs! 

After lunch, the ship navigated through the ice to the harbour at Illulissat, arriving around 3pm. On the beautiful and sunny afternoon, they hiked into the icefjord, which was spectacular to see. In the evening, the team is visiting the Knud Rasmussen Museum, which is about the Danish explorer."


Update from Expedition Leader Geoff Green, 7:30 PM local time

We awoke early to an inspirational scene: the icebergs of Disko Bay amidst the gray, blue, and white hues of a summer, overcast sky. After breakfast, we were treated to Arctic Hour: a captivating panel on sustainable development with a vigorous question and answer session. Then we boarded zodiacs and navigated the the Jakobshavn ice field just off the coast from Ilulissat. Everyone came away inspired by the myriad shapes and sizes of icebergs, bergy bits, and growlers. Following another sensational meal - the food and service is exceptional by every measure - we prepared to visit the community of Ilulissat. Carefully navigating his way through a tightly clustered maze of breathtaking bergs, our captain delivered us right to the port itself, ending with a perfect parallel parking that few of us would have believed possible. In groups we walked through the bristling, picturesque coastal town to nearby Jakobshavn Icefjord, the outlet of a glacier that pours out more enough freshwater each day in the form of icebergs to satiate New York City's entire water use for an entire year! Against this spectacular backdrop, fending off swarms of mosquitoes, students and staff posed for photographs and marvelled at the Arctic's raw power and beauty. After a visit to the Ilulissat museum and local shops, we re-embarked Sea Explorer and sat for dinner amidst a natural art gallery of icebergs passing before us as we wound our way back towards the ocean.


After time to reflect, individually and in groups, the team is off to bed before their big day at the town of Ummannaq's 250 Anniversary Celebration, with the Prime Minister of Greenland!


Please check out the previous days' entries for more stories, photos and journal entries.

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Arctic Fact of the Day

The Jakobshavn Glacier, part of a World Heritage Site, produces the most icebergs of all glaciers in Greenland. 80% of the glaciers that drift off the coast of Labrador originate from the Jakobshavn Glacier.  


The Icecap

Students produce an on-ship newsletter during the Expedition, called the IceCap. In their first issue, students share phrases in Inuktitut and Greenlandic, interview educators and share their photographs and drawings.

Click here to download it as PDF.



Visit to Itilleq town and Fjord.



Students woke up to icebergs in Disko Bay.

 The students spotted some humpback whales.

 Zodiac cruises amongst the icebergs.

 Emily enjoys a Zodiac cruise.

 Expedition Leader Geoff brings some ice closer to the students.


 Students and educators are getting to know each other.  


 The Sea Adventurer enters the town of Illulissat.

The Expedition reaches the Illuissat icefjord!

Marius shows some national pride near the Jakobshavn Glacier! 

Getting up close to the ice!

Overlooking the icefjord.

 Students on deck during reflective time.

Educator Justin during group discussion.

Sharing reflections at the end of the day.

 Painting during quiet time.

Evening wrap up back aboard the ship.




Barcelona, Spain


Avui no tinc paraules per a descriure el que he viscut!

Ens hem llevat entre icebergs, hem contemplat balenes devant nostre, hem fet una pasejada en zodiac entre un mar d'icebergs, grossos com edificis, i hem anat a veure el fiord de gel patrimoni de l'humanitat a Ililisat. Les vistes i emocions no es poden explicar en unes linies, hem sento molt privilegiada; pero no patiu, ja us podeu imaginar que he fet un parell de fotos.


Today I do not have words to describe what I have experienced!

We woke up between icebergs, saw whales swimming in front of us, went for a cruise in a zodiac between the icebergs, so unbelievably big, and walked up the world heritage ice fjord in Ililisat. The views and emotions cannot be explain in a couple of lines here, I feel really really privileged; but do not worry, as you can imagine, I took a couple of pictures.

Petons, Regards, Liebe Gruesse,




Chelsey, QC

What an amazing day..What started as a cloudy day, turned into the most magical landscape. We entered an iceberg field on our way to a small community in Greenland. The iceberg field started to intensify, and the closer we headed to Ilulissat, the denser the ice became. Before we entered the town, we had all the students and staff experience zodiacs near the icebergs. We slowly weaved between chunks and palatial structures, hearing the booming of cracking ice, calving and rolling over. The highlights of the excursions were the whistles and excited utterances from the students as they witnessed the bergs close up. 

If that wasn't enough of a show, we then continued heading into the town, but the route was hampered by excessive icebergs. The captain expertly steered within the boundaries and although it took quite a while the spectacle was phenomenal with sunlight gleaming off the ice, reflecting the hidden gems beneath the sea, in lively aqua.

Again, if that wasn't enough, once we arrived in town, we headed to the UNESCO Heritage Site where we observed the most spectacular display of icebergs and giant sculptures. The bergs were the remnants of the monstrous glacial fjord near the town, and the sea was overfilled with debris from the glacier. This was the same place where the film "Chasing Ice" was documented. Unbelievable! The magical landscape surpassed Newfoundland's lonely 3 icebergs which we once saw.



St-Georges, QC

Aujourd'hui, nous nous sommes reveilles avec plusieurs icebergs qui nous entouraient. Ils etaient tres impressionnants, certains plus gros que le bateau! Nous avons aussi eu la visite d'une baleine a bosse. Tout le monde c'est rue sur le pont pour pourvoir l'observer, c'etait magnifique a regarder. J'etais tres contente de voir un mammifere marin dans le Nord. Ensuite, en apres-midi nous sommes alles a Illusat pour visiter le village et pour regarder un fjord ou se deverse un glacier. Il y avait tellement d'iceberg c'etait incroyable! J'ai adore aller a cet endroit et j'y serait rester pendant plusieurs jours si javais pu. En gros, j'ai passe une journee riche en  emotions et en nouvelles experiences.


South Africa

Waking up this morning we saw the first traces of icebergs moving in over the horizon. Seeing them was one of the most amazing things I've experienced. As we entered the icebergs, which on some occasions dwarfed the ship, we encountered an even greater surprise. Humpback whales made their appearance on the surface of the water. As we saw these gentle giants flicking their tails above the icy water we kepton making our way into Disko Bay. Once we got closer to the huge blocks of the zodiacs were lowered and an adventure on a close up and personal level began. Once up close, looking at the bergs was on a whole new level of understanding. The shape and variety was so vast that it prickled my imagination to times of my childhood when tales of this wonderful land were whispered in my ear.

The villages we have visited so far have given me an insight and better understanding of how the people in this country live. The buildings, being painted in almost every color imaginable, were so vibrant and bright that it made me think, in winter times there can indeed be a glimmer of hope in a cold and dark environment. With all the lessons being learned and topics that have become a subject for debate knowledge has expanded and more is gained each day.


North Smithfield, RI, USA

Today was amazing! This was the first time I have ever seen an iceberg naturally in the water. When I woke up, I immediately looked out the window and saw my first iceberg. It was really exciting because I didn't realize how astonishing it would be. What I've realized is that pictures do not do nature too much justice. I took many fantastic pictures of the ice, but I know when I get home, you will all ask why I took so many pictures of ice; well the answer to that question (even before I return home!) is that it's simply too amazing to not continuously admire it and take tons of pictures! We went on a zodiac cruise to get an up close and personal look of the icebergs, which was probably one of the most exhilarating and amazing things I've ever done in my life. After that, we docked and went on a great hike to the ice fjord. The fjord was also one of those times that I just needed to take tons of pictures because there was a ginormous glacier with surrounding icebergs. The day overall was extremely long and tiring, but it was all definitely worth it 110% (if not more).


Zurich, Switzerland

Having reached the ship was the best feeling I had for many days. I have fallen in love with the idyllic, infinite landscape which let me forget the issues for a moment that Greenland is facing. On deck of our new, floating home I enjoyed the moment - a slight breeze blowing in my face, the sunshine heating up my skin, and the very smooth vacillations signalling the beginning of our sea adventure. As we were sitting in the dinning room waiting for a perfect meal, a juicy conversation about the issues got started. Due to the variety of personalities sitting at the table, from an historian to an engineer, I realized one more time that this trip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an exchange of views about delicate themes.


Coquitlam, BC

I have officially dubbed this day 'iceberg day'. After looking at pictures of the last Arctic expedition, I assumed we would experience neither ice nor harsh cold. However,  to my excitement, I woke up today in a forest of ice with a low temperature. To be here feels unreal. I keep reminding myself how lucky I am to be here, in a place only a handful of people have explored. The areas we explored today are the Jakobshaven Fjord and Disko Bay. The latter is the birthplace of most (80%) of the icebergs in the world. In fact, it is thought that the iceberg that sunk the Titanic came from  Disko Bay. Fun fact: icebergs are made of layers of packed snow, so when there is snowfall, a thin layer of air is trapped under it. When the ice melts, the water around the iceberg starts to bubble because of the air under the water being released.  I also discovered today that icebergs are the clouds of the sea in that looking closely, you start to make out shapes. Today I saw a dragon, polar bear and a heart (brachiosephalic branch and all).  I also saw a few live humpbacks, met an adorable cat and 'awed' at the cute sledge pups around the town of Ilulissat. I'm looking very forward to tomorrow.



Providence, RI

Today was an awesome day! I woke up to great news which was seeing a humpback whale . I enjoyed going on the zodiac today and seeing the icebergs from up close. We compared the icebergs to animals because some of them were shaped like a lion, dragon and other animals. It was a little windy but I did wear layers so I was really warm. I also had an awesome time at Illullissat. It was not cold and I felt really hot because of all the walking. I also entered the super market and looked around; it was funny because we saw a juice that in Rhode Island is called Capri Sun and in this supermarket it was called Capri Sonne. I also loved seeing the dogs! They were so adorable and I got to pet a puppy. Today was a great day and I am excited for more to come!


Rankin Inlet, NU

Yesterday was so much fun. We went into a small village, with a population of about 100. While I was at the store there, I tried to buy sunglasses. I had no clue what the debit machine said, and I was used to how we insert the chip cards in Canada. So I had to get Mika's help, and the chip goes into the top -- weird. The cashier/workers had no idea what we were saying, so I was confused. Very funny, and embarrassing. I found the traditional clothing so beautiful! Today is a beautiful day out, and we have seen icebergs, whales, seals, and birds. I am not home sick at all -- I'm enjoying my time away from home, and work. I cannot believe I'm here -- it still feels like I'm dreaming! I am excited to upload pictures when I get home. :) I couldn't be any happier to be here! I am looking forward to letting people about my experience, and showing them pictures.


Nanaimo, BC

Hi everyone!

So as you can imagine, after 6 days at sea, I was starting to miss the family and friends that I had left behind. Sometimes you really understand how far away you are, with the boat shifting and creaking as it pushes through the scattered ice. Naturally I was a little sad and a little worried.

Then we went into the Jakobshaven Ice Fjord.

It is hard to describe the immensity of such spectacular bergs, but I will do my best to convey the feeling. I went out feeling stressed. I came back wondering where the time had gone, holding onto the boat for as long as they would let me.

It is amazing the freedom that you feel in such a vast landscape, surrounded by captivating, creaking giants. You were at a peace, laughing with others amidst the furious clicking of cameras. At the same time your subconscious was on an edge, wondering when the distant snapping would see the ice bergs cascading into the icy arms of the sea.

Sitting there, zodiac growling softly, bundled so warm, with the Greenland hills etching the background, I cannot begin to tell you how privileged I feel.

And so very, very small.


Portugal Cove, NL, Canada

Today, I saw my first icebergs here in Greenland. They were all shapes and sizes, cut at random angles, and pure white with light blue. They were beautiful. We spent the early morning observing the icebergs and some humpbacks. We boarded the zodiacs and went for a closer look. Icebergs have many odd textures, with ridges and bumps and smooth faces. We are going into another community this afternoon.

So this afternoon we visited Ilulissat and the Jakobshaven Ice Fjord, in Disko Bay. Ilulissat is the third-largest city in Greenland, with a whopping population of 5000 people. The city is a collection of brightly painted wooden houses, and has a large soccer field.

A small aside. I just tasted whale jerky while writing. It's pretty bad.

Anyways, outside of town there was a field filled with sled dogs. We had a time admiring the puppies. Continuing on, we reached Jakobshaven Ice Fjord. The Fjord is at the end of a massive glacier, and as a result was filled with Icebergs. The icebergs were truly gigantic, literal mountains of ice floating in the sea. Their sheer size was amazing. I took many pictures, as I have done throughout the expedition, because I hope to show you in some way the things I have seen and experienced. A small group of us climbed a mountain, from which the view of the Fjord was perfect.

Dinner was served soon after we returned. I ate with Stephan Dion.

The Sea Adventurer is currently headed for the community of Uummannaq. The day is over, at least for the expedition. In summer, the Arctic day never ends. Goodbye, and koyanuk (thank you) for reading.


Houston, Texas

Hello my fellow readers. This morning we woke up in Disko Bay which is an amazing home to glaciers big and small. It also is suspected that the legendary iceberg that damaged the Titanic and sent it to its early grave came from here. Once we got the boat stationary we took a zodiac cruise around all of the bergs. Surprisingly I captured some amazing shots with my iPhone. The bergs were spectacular with their size as well as the pure complexity. My zodiac driver, Ian, had some great information on the bergs and what the different patterns could tell scientists about the bergs. For example some of the "crack"-like striations on the bergs with blue coloring was once interior river paths where the melting water on the bergs would run off. Now those rivers have frozen over and light now refracts in those river paths. The frozen over ice has less oxygen compared to the other parts of the burgs. The lack of oxygen and pureness of the frozen-over river paths, along with the refracted light, creates the blueness in the burg. This is all very poorly put and I apologize but I am very tired.

After we did the berg tours, we boarded back onto the ship and headed to our community visit for the day. The community visit that we were able to experience was called Ilulissat. We were separated into groups and then sent to explore the land. My group first saw the museum there, which had many seal skins and models of how traditional life is in the Arctic. Next we did a hike up to this AMAZING view where we saw a ginormous glacier surrounded by other smaller ones and then accented in a layer of ice-cube-like specimens. Marvellous -- it was just marvellous. We were also able to do some shopping, which was cool. I couldn't imagine how the people live in the Arctic. I guess if you don't know any different it must be easier. I just couldn't imagine not being able to have a kolache or some good ole' barbeque every once and a while.

Needless to say, it was an amazing day and I greatly enjoyed it. Hope all my loved ones are doing well back at home. I miss you all very much and I think of you often. I can't wait to tell you of this amazing adventure when I get home.


St. John's NL

First of all I have to say Happy 16th Birthday to my brother Liam. I can't wait to see you when I get back and I'll try to find you a really cool birthday gift while I'm here.

Yesterday was absolutely amazing as it was our first real day here in the Arctic. In the morning we went to shore to a kind of isolated area which reminded me a lot of Cape Spear back home. I was on one of the first Zodiacs out which meant that I had over an hour to explore the land. First I climbed up a little "mountain" and admired the view until I noticed two guys on top of the biggest mountain we could get to and a whole bunch of people heading for them. So myself and the others I was with of course started to head over as well. The climb up was not easy but we all helped each other out. The view from the top was absolutely amazing! The climb down was way harder than the climb up especially for those who had shorter legs than mine but again we all worked together to form hand steps and give shoulders to lean on on the way down. Sam apparently does that kind of stuff a lot so he was a great help to a lot of us,.

By the time we got back everyone else has already started breaking into 8 groups and had to scramble to find one (but it was so worth it). I ended up in the water life section which was awesome. We got to see water beetle larva (which weren't actually as gross as they sound), faerie shrimp and one adult water beetle.

In the afternoon we headed out to see a little community which again reminded me of home with all the coloured houses in random little places. There were so many cool little things hanging from their houses like fish and skins. The church was so quaint and beautiful and so was the cemetery. The people there were so nice even when they beat our team at soccer.

The rest of the day was pretty relaxed and we had another Arctic Hour where we learned about some of the locals culture all across the Arctic. It was such and amazing day and its looking like today is going to be the same way.


Arctic Bay, NU

During the morning it was so fun going on the zodiacs. Looking at the icebergs was awesome; we touched the iceberg and I thought it would be so soft but it wasn't . When we were waiting for the the others going back on the ship we went zigzagging on the zodiac really fast, with Alex, Shirley, and Kristine.

We went on the land of Illulissat to visit and hike to see the fjord; it was so huge.

We had to go back on the Sea Adventurer and started heading to Uummannaq tomorrow. We will be there to visit the place :D


London, ON

Hi everyone,


My dream of seeing a whale has now been fulfilled. The two that we saw were both humpback whales feeding in Disko Bay. A couple of seals peeked out of the water to say hello at around the same time.

Another neat thing happened today during our zodiac cruise. We were going around ice and icebergs and we came up to a very large one. Cameras were pulled out to take pictures when all of a sudden a huge resounding boom filled the air. It was the ice cracking and it almost sounded like thunder.

This trip is getting more exciting and wonderful by the day, and I'm looking forward to all of the experiences to come!

Lots of love,


Ottawa, Ontario

Today we had a series of amazing events happen. My favourite was seeing the second iceberg flip. While many people were still having dinner there was a few of us out on the bow of the ship. As we were approaching a small iceberg it calved. Nothing big just a few feet of ice but it was enough to unbalance it and make it flip. It was simply stunning to see that something so big could be affected by such a small loss. It is like the straw that broke the camels back. Once it flipped it began to lose a lot of snow and ice. The newly released snow and ice spread out over a huge area of the water, and as amazing and skillful as our captain is, we plowed right through all this new ice. Earlier in the day we went on a zodiac cruise around some very large icebergs. While we were out near one of them a sound like thunder hit us like a storm. A huge crack appeared from the base to the summit of the iceberg that we were sitting not 50 feet from. Our zodiac driver got us out of there so fast we didn’t know what happened. The iceberg never actually calved while we were out there but it was still quite exciting to see the crack appear so fast and so loudly. It was a great example of global warming happening. The area where we were today, Disko Bay, is one of the highest populated area of icebergs in the world. The bay was filled with lots of small icebergs, what we call bergy bits, and only a handful of large ones. This is due to the temperatures being higher than before so more of the icebergs are calving and becoming smaller. Overall it was quite the amazing and fun day.


Lawn, Newfoundland

There is nothing more amazing than waking up to whale watching and a sea of ice bergs. All around the ship were huge masses of ice; and I've seen ice bergs before but never this many. Everywhere we go there are these majestic things; even thought the scenes from Titanic we replaying in my head. Then the whales started to surface and we even saw a few seals. After we got on the zodiacs and got to see the ice up close and I can now say I've dipped my hands in Arctic waters.



Fernie, British Columbia, Canada

The day of the iceburg. We awoke this morning in Disko Bay, to horizons studded with ice, and were later informed that we would be disembarking the ship into the Zodiacs from our location seven miles off the west coast of Greenland. Minutes later, bundled up and smiling, we stepped down the steep metal steps to the Zodiac loading zone. I find it extremely difficult to describe the feeling of sitting in a small inflatable boat amidst thousands of icebergs the size Manhattan island, or maybe bigger! And that's just the visible part! All of the ice comes from a glacier that stems from the Greenland icecap, and moves slowly down into a broad fjord, which we hiked up to see later. The icebergs in the fjord are so massive that the only way to scale them is to imagine the number of turns that it would take to ski down it. Some felt like more than eight turns! Icebergs make a person feel small. Giant monuments of the ocean, shrouded in mystery, with so much of them hidden and yet the parts that are visible still manage to take your breath away. It's too easy to undermine the quality of this experience using words or pictures; they aren't enough. To experience the Arctic, the expansive, beautiful and remote place on the Earth that we are now a small piece off, you have to be there. You just have to see it, its so amazing.


Iqualuit, NU

The past few days have been absolutely spectacular. There are a lot of wonderful people on this ship. Today we managed to reach the ice! The icebergs are extremely gorgeous! Early this morning we saw a few humpback whales, and seals! It was absolutely fantastic! The animals and ice are so gorgeous. There are a lot of people on the ship who have never seen this much ice before, and the reactions on their faces are priceless!


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