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SOI Arctic 2015 day 5: Illulisat, Greenland

Hello from Illulisat, Greenland!

We arrived to Disko Bay early this morning to blue skies, sunshine, calm seas and icebergs!! Throughout the morning we spent time on the outer decks soaking in the spectacular scene around us, including some humpback and Minke whales! We also had 10 workshops taking place which all the students jumped into with passion and enthusiasm.

After lunch we arrived to Illulissat, a great Greenlandic town and home to one of the natural wonders of the World, the Jakobshaven Glacier and Illulisat Icefjord! Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is the Iceberg factory of this part of the Arctic, and a powerful example of the impact of climate change. The students have all hiked out to the icefjord and are having an amazing day! We have such a special group of students and staff and our expedition is off to an incredible beginning!!

Geoff Green
SOI Founder & Expedition Leader

Illulisat continued…

It was a day to celebrate from where the big icebergs are born, in Ilulissat Greenland and it has been a most remarkable day. From the time we woke this morning, until late this evening, it’s been a journey into an increasingly thick field of majestic icebergs, quiet waters, soft winds and warm sunshine. Today we saw hundreds and hundreds of icebergs, all sizes and shapes and a few up close and personal. For students on ice, it’s hard to imagine a better day or encountering more ice.

Illulisat is at the foot of the Jakobshavn Glacier, one of the four major Greenland Icecap connected glaciers that are in retreat.

Our day began sailing north toward Illulisat through Greenland`s Disko Bay also known as the famous iceberg alley. One by one and mile by mile we began encountering more and more and larger and larger icebergs that have broken away from Glacier that feeds into Illulisat’s harbour.

These are mother nature’s sculptures, no one in the world could make something so beautiful.

One massive Ice tower was just a few miles from the Community. We could not have been any closer, and our ship’s Captain, turned the Ocean Endeavour, full circle around the massive columns of white and blue. Even seasoned Arctic travellers were impressed by the size and shape of this iceberg. It felt like we could almost touch it. Check out our photo section to see the images.

We boarded our zodiacs and slipped around smaller ice flows and the busy fishing boats into the bustling little port. Small groups hiked several kilometers to the opposite side of the neck of land and rock that that comprises the Illulisat Township.

Here we learned from glacial specialists, Bianca Perren and Eric Mattson that presently the Jakobshavn glacier is losing an estimated 60 meters every single day. One hundred years ago it would lose less than a kilometer in a year—now it’s losing more than that in a single month. By comparison from the years 1850 to 1990 it lost a total of 50 kilometers.

The glacier is between eight hundred and a thousand meters thick but SOI educators Bianca and Eric explained to students that at the present rate of retreat, in about a decade, the Glacier will have become grounded about 80 kilometers up his fiord. It will continue to break away, but rather than float to the ocean, the ice will be left to melt, and a small river flowing down a rock gorge with steep walls will replace the massive ice fields we saw today.

We have been told by our experts that the other massive Greenland glaciers are declining at a similar rate.

This is climate change on a scale our students and most of our educators have not seen or experienced. It’s also why we know this is the greatest and largest classroom on earth.

Between the ice flows and icebergs ,we continue to see and marvel at the increasing display of wildlife, we sighted several humpback whales today a few very close to our ship, and one rudely interrupted lunch by performing a small rise and dive just outside the dining room window.

One thing we pride ourselves in here at SOI, is to remain flexible, so spectacular is the ice field that we postponed some of the evening sessions in order to take one final pass around them with Zodiacs for more photos some hands on touching and on site lectures and whales, a humpback whale came close enough for some of us to get photos. It was the third of fourth whale we saw over the course of this most special day. His was more than a routine zodiac tour, in fact it was more like a flotilla or armada, we had sixteen zodiacs, tied together in the shadows of the massive ice berg for an SOI sing-along.It was a time to celebrate this special day and we did in style.

Sad and frightening to think that in a decade, there may be no ice here at all to experience.

Geoff Green
Founder & Expedition Leader


Don’t forget to check previous days for updated photos and student blogs! Today’s photos, videos and student blogs are coming soon!

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July 31: Students head off to explore the Illulisat Icefjord, photo (c) Martin Lipman #SOIArctic2015

A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on

Raslan Abdul Rahman

To start off: We, the Malaysian contingent on this amazing expedition, are absolutely fine. Do not worry; although we have not been blogging for the first few days, we are not dead. The beauty of the Arctic tundra is mesmerizing. As a result of this, blogging completely left our minds during our time exploring and learning all about the Arctic. Just to summarize, we have been on this ship for one day and it was fantastic. To keep you updated, we will tell you all about what we did on Day 1. Throughout our first day aboard the MS Ocean Endeavour, we made a few stops. First of all, we stopped at Itteliq Fjord to take in some Arctic air and were divided into workshops to discover more about this beautiful place. After the fog came in, we headed back for the ship and proceeded on our route. Then, we listened to a panel of Peter, Nanok and Mikkel teach us about Greenland. Eventually, we docked at Sisimiut and visited a museum to learn even more on the Greenlandic culture. Afterward, we had a nice hike around Sisimiut and returned to the ship. Dinner was served, we all had great meals and ended our day with some invaluable experiences. Personally for me, the workshop I participated in at Itteliq Fjord was a highlight for the day. I decided to go with the friendly, neighbourhood botanist: Paul. All the workshop participants got guides on Arctic flora and I had a great time scavenging for the plants. Plants may seem mundane and boring, but I actually feel a lot more impressed by these plants after Paul taught me more about them. There are four main types of Arctic flora: Cyanobacteria (seaweed and the like), biocytes (moss), lichen and vascular plants. Although lichen may not be as pretty as the various flowers in the Arctic, I am mightily impressed by them. The lichen are incredibly resilient and resistant. Being able to prosper in such extreme conditions is not something most people can brag about, let alone plants. In conclusion, I had a great day aboard the ship. All in all, I just cannot wait for Day 2.


July 31: photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015

A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on

July 31: The Qajaq is coming together, photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015 #kayak #qajaq

A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on


Mehra Balsara
Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada

The wonderful thing about this trip is that I have become interested in topics that I didn’t even know existed, and have received answers to questions I wasn’t observant enough to ask. For example, topics like, glaciology, and meterorites found in iceburgs, were very interesting, pleasantly surprising me. On a basic level, SOI has already started to expand my curiosity, but with full disclosure, SOI has increased my enthusam by 110%. I hope these trends will continue, as I see more and more of the Arctic. Each day we explore a new part of the Arctic, and today we went to see the Ilulissat ice sheet fjord. Words would be useless to describe the beautiful view that was around us. This was also the day that I saw my first iceberg (which I was incredibly excited by), but seeing the ice sheet was an indescrible once in a life-time opportunity. One point that was made by the educators, was to emphasize how the icebergs, and the ice sheet, are not just merely chunks of ice, but are incredibly important parts of the earth, affecting both water currents and global sea levels. Today I could really feel the grandness and importance of the ice, because after all, how could something naturally-occuring and so extremely large and beautiful, have no importance to our global environment. The day ended by taking a zodac trip around some of the icebergs, just as the sun was setting, and finally tying all 16 of our zodacs together to have a group sing-a-long, led by the musicans of the group. It is amazing how fast, as a group, we can connect, so that by Day 3 on the boat, we are already singing and laughing together. SOI has taught me so many lessons that I can apply to my every day life. They do this by giving their students chances to experience once in a life time opportunities, and letting students personally interpret them in an impactful way.

– Mehra

July 31: photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015

A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on


Rachel Boere
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Recently I realized that I had been looking for something… I had been searching for something that would give perspective and provide knowledge. I had been waiting for a time to explore, a day to connect with a new place, new people, new environment, a new opportunity to learn. Yesterday as we stepped off our zodiacs into the Arctic water and looked up at the hill in front of us, with the mighty rock faces on both sides, the patches of snow, and the fog rolling over the rough hill tops I realized how calm I felt. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was definitely in complete awe of such an untouched place, such a raw and deep landscape that has been around for millions of years, but at the same time I did feel this sense of calmness.. as though I’d found what I was looking for. Maybe it was the silence that you just don’t hear in the city, or the feeling of the ground squishing a little below our feet as we walked or the way the land just sprawled up and down and around in mysterious ways. The opportunity to walk across a land that so clearly doesn’t need us provided a unique perspective of a world that has been around for millions of years, growing, changing, and developing on it’s own, opposite to the city which would crumble without our support. The time spent wandering across the shore and up the hills, absorbing our surroundings, looking for birds and at plants, wondering why the rocks are shaped the way they are, and thinking about where we were in relation to where we were the day before provided me insight of a place I’d known so little about previously. The satisfaction of learning, exploring and absorbing it all in the company of adventured specialists as well as peers who crave, search and wonder as much as I do created both a calmness as well as a desire for more. The next adventure awaits!

– Rachel

July 31: photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015

A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on


Petra Brown
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

This morning I woke up in Disko Bay to find icebergs floating all around us. It was pretty awesome! It was also our first session of workshops onboard the boat. I participated in one where we got to begin building a traditional Inuit kayak. We started by fitting together all of the different pieces of wood used as the framework of the kayak and finished off by drilling holes into the joints and pegging them together. As we were building we also discussed both the modern and traditional ways of bending the ribs into place and how the materials used have changed over time (ex: seal skin has been supplanted by nylon). In the afternoon we landed in Illulisat and hiked up to the Jakobshaven ice fjord along a boardwalk through a very nice valley. When I finally came over the top of the rocks the view before me was absolutely breathtaking. There was ice everywhere. I really enjoyed sitting up high on a rock ledge taking in the view and getting in some nice sketches of iceburgs. In the evening I got to enjoy a fun zodiak tour amongst the icebergs. It gave a really good impression of how big they really are.

– Petra

July 31: The Illulisat Icefjord, photo (c) Martin Lipman #SOIArctic2015 #Arctic #Illulisat #Ice A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on


Corine Cadoret
Baie-Comeau, Quebec, Canada

These last three days were crazy for me. I had no time out, so I did not blog. Today, we went to Ilulissat and it was awesome. The ice fjord, defined as a world heritage site by UNESCO, was so inspiring and I felt like an explorer walking on an unknown land. The climb was hard, but the view was amazing. Also, I will never forget the Zodiac trip we did around the iceburgs. It is an experience that only comes once in a lifetime because we had the chance to see the real effects of climate change. Finally, I am sad to leave Greenland in 1 day, but I am sure we are going to have good time in Canada.

– Corine

July 31: photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015

A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on


Brandon Caliwag
Mililani, Hawai’i, USA

Aloha mai kakou! I’d insert how many miles away I am from home, but there’s no cell service, so I’m not sure. Sadly, I already wrote a blog post for today, BUT it didn’t save 🙁 Maybe it did! And got published, you might be in for a double post with almost the same content, just kidding, this is kind of like writing a 10 page essay due the next morning and deciding that the essay you just wrote isn’t that great and a new essay would be better. Anyways… life at sea is tough, you get a comfy bed, delicious food, great educators, a wonderful experience… oh wait, it’s not tough!

Although it’s only been a few days in the north, I’ve developed a certain routine when meeting new people. It’s goes a little something like this:
Person: Hi I’m…
Me: Hi I’m Brandon, how do you pronounce your name?
Person: (gives name)

Me: Cool, so where are you from?

Person: (city, country)

Me: Cool CoOoOooOol

Person: And where are you from?

Me: Oh, I’m from Hawaii

Person: HAWAII!! I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii!

Me: It’s alright.

That’s kind of how it goes, there’s more to it, and of course I speak proudly of my homeland, but it’s cool to stay lowkey and hear about where everyone else is from and why they’re here. I’m sure all of you who are reading this (Hi Mom) have watched the videos on the website, aren’t they great?! I promise mom, I’ll try to get some face time.

So I’m not the best at describing the scenery, that’s why it’s probably best to refer to the pictures. But some times a picture can’t illustrate the image your eyes paint. It’s like when an artist is inspired by another artist’s work and tries to do the same piece of art, but we all know the OG artist is best. I don’t know where I’m going with this. It is currently 11:50pm, and some sleep would be nice. A hui hou! Shoots then!

– Brandon

July 31: The Illulisat Icefjord, photo (c) Martin Lipman #SOIArctic2015 #Arctic #Illulisat #Ice

A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on

Beatrice Chemtov
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Today we saw icebergs! The ships captain drove us right by a few, so close we could almost touch them! They are more majestic than anything else, especially under the sunshine and surounded by a very blue sea. Even while writing this and looking out the window, I can’t help but be impressed and surprised by the icebergs floating along the horizon. Later, we went to Ilulissat, where we hiked to the Ice Fjord. It was massive, stretching kilometers and kilometers past where we could see. To get the the edge of the ice, we needed to pass a long wooden bridge and a cliff made of rocks. Once we were at the ice sheet, we went to explore the first few chunks of ice. We stood by them, and got to taste it. It had no taste at all, which was weird. As we were trying to get more, I mistepped and landed one foot in the water. I was soaked to the knee! It was relatively cold, but I’m glad that it happened. It feels amazing to be able to say that I (sort of) fell into the Arctic Ocean, and to say that I hiked back almost the whole way barefoot (don’t worry it was safe, but I’ll leave that part out). I don’t think my hiking boot was as excited about it as I was, but maybe it will dry by the time we get to Resolute Bay and make a full recovery. Anyway, I’m heading out onto the deck to do some whale watching! After seeing my first today, I want to see a ton!

– Beatrice

July 31: Staying warm on deck, photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015

A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on

Ashley Cummings
Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada

Ilulissat is absolutely breathtaking. Words really can’t describe how beautiful and awesome it is. Awesome is such an overused word that it takes away the true meaning and feeling it depicts. When you look upon the glaciers and mountains, you get filled with the realization of how small you are in this world, but you also realize that you are entirely significant and that you can make a difference. The glacier of Ilulissat flows at a rate of 60m per day, compared to 10m per day in the 20th century. Glaciers have reduced so much in the past 2-4 decades and it is really terrifying. Often, however, these rapid changes are just swept under the rug. Regardless, Ilulissat is a spectacular sight and it makes you lose words. At every stop we’ve made, I’ve been able to write in my journal. At the glacier, however, I was so lost for words that I just painted the scenery in watercolors. I’ll never be able to capture the beauty in words, art, or song, but I will always have the feelings, sight, and smell that I experienced sitting on the rock face overlooking everything. After visiting the glacier, we were able to make a few stops on the way back to the ship and I got some gifts for family. We had dinner shortly after boarding and then went on a zodiac ride through the icebergs.  We had an impromptu concert as we attached the zodiacs together to listen. It was wonderful and very beautiful outside. The sun wasn’t as hot as it was during our hike to the glacier and there were gentle waves that kept the zodiacs moving very slightly. As I write this, it is still very sunny and that makes me happy as I feel very at home, being able to see icebergs and mountains close by. This is a phenomenal opportunity and I am very thankful to be here. 

– Ashley  

July 31: Art workshop, photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015

A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on


Megan Dicker
Nain, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada

This expedition continues to be the most majestic experience in my life! The Arctic is such an amazing place, I have to pinch myself sometimes, just to make sure I am not dreaming. SOI feels unreal and it takes my breath away. I am learning so much about glaciers and the Arctic region that it is difficult to process. We have been surrounded by icebergs for the last two days; they’re always in sight. Each time I see one (or a million at a time) I am amazed. You could never be tired of looking at them. Early this morning we divided into groups, taking part in various workshops. I completed my caribou skin “juggling balls” and learned a song in Inuktitut. It is nice to connect with other Inuit from across the north. There is so much to learn. After lunch we arrived in Illulissat. It is a beautiful community! The harbour was filled with boats and the smell of fish occupied the air. I was so excited to visit another community in Greenland. The colors of the houses in Sisimiut and Illulissat are so vibrant. Greens, red, blues, and yellows in every direction. We saw some husky pups on our walk to the ice fjord; a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The sight of icebergs in the sea and Arctic cotton on the shores is just amazing. Everything is amazing, simply put. While in Illulissat I purchased a pair of earrings! I am so happy about that. Later this evening we enjoyed a few hours out in the zodiacs. We explored nearby icebergs (at a reasonable distance of course) and soaked it in. We also had the first SOI “concert at sea” where about 15-20 zodiacs huddled together. We were all connected and sang multiple songs together. The sun shone on the sea and ice beautifully, and I wanted to spend the whole time capturing it so I can relive the moment again and again. Listening to my SOI family sing together and enjoy each others company with Illulissat and many icebergs in sight made me feel full. I am wholeheartedly enjoying this expedition. New friends, new places, new memories. To my friends and family who are reading this, I am thinking about you. Can’t wait to share with you in person.

– Megan

July 31: Zodiac cruise near Illulisat, photo (c) Martin Lipman #SOIArctic2015 A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on

Meghan Flood
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Today I woke up and saw an iceberg for the first time out my window. Then I saw about a million more. Today was filled with ice and wonders of the world.

Seeing the ice fjord was just amazing. There aren’t even words to explain it, the ice just went on forever, continuing for as far as the eye could see. All the peaks and hills, jagged and smooth, sitting and waiting. The ice is alive. The plunging cliffs creak, breathe and shift as if they’re sleeping giants, scooping under the ocean surface and creating a brilliant turquoise reflection. The sun gleams off the smooth faces and makes the ice crystals sparkle as if they’re more precious than diamonds. The ice reaches into the sky, dwarfing everything around it. This place is truly unbelievable in scale and beauty. I’ve found the best place in the world.

Tomorrow is the last day in Greenland before we cross over into Nunavut. It’s rumoured that we will have to maneuver around more ice and maybe even break through it to get to Pond Inlet, Baffin Island. My dream is to see polar bears and I’m crossing my fingers!

– Meghan

July 31: Practicing rolls, photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015

A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on

Cameron Flooren
Fort Vermillion, Alberta, Canada

Hey family!, Mom, this trip is amazing, I’d write more but I have been spending my time talking witgh fellow shipmates. I got to see a couple of fjords (Itelliq and Sondre Strondheim).  We visited Illulissat and Sisimiut (where we visited a couple of old graves), and got the chance to hike a large hill.  I’m doing well and have been cracking up the expedition members with funny/random jokes).

– Cameron

July 31: photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015

A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on

Gabrielle Foss
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Many years ago I read an article that started something like this: “We drifted between the icebergs as the passengers faces turned green as the Arctic moss”. This sentence has held a place in my memory since then and I have been waiting for the opportunity to explore above the Arctic Circle and mirror the hue of the flora surrounding me. My name is Gabrielle Foss and I am so fortunate to be a participant on the 15th anniversary Students on Ice expedition to the Arctic thanks to an incredibly generous scholarship from the Leacross Foundation. Leacross celebrates and supports young women like me on their paths to discover the world of science. And that is exactly what we have been doing aboard the Ocean Endeavour.

– Gabrielle

Mark Goehring
Nevada City, California, USA

Blogging in Iceburgs in Greenland.  This morning dawned clear with huge icebergs all around us.  I guess, given we’re quite a bit above the Arctic Circle, there never really was a “dawn” since the sun never set last night.

Yesterday put my life into relief, chatting separately with two of history’s legendary explorers – Fred Roots (Antarctica and beyond) and Don Walsh (Marianas Trench and beyond).  Such a surreal experience for me.  Look them up on Wikipedia.  This trip has already sparked me to reflect on who I am and who I still might become.  Not sure precisely how that pans out, but I know it’s quite the gift.

Indigo and Milo both seem to be doing marvelously overall. Milo flew an underwater ROV (remote operated vehicle) out of a Zodiac (small rubber speed boat) as part of some research one of the many scientists onboard is doing (with an ROV – not a Zodiac). We’re considering getting him one so he can join in the worldwide research effort by contributing data from California – perhaps as his 8th grade project.  Indigo has many multinational friends now (Monaco, Canada, Rwanda, Nunavut) and except for a sore throat is quite happy.  Hope you all are well!

– Mark

July 31: photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015

A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on


Victoria Han
St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada

Today marks our third day on the Ocean Endeavor and all I can say is “Wow!” On the 29th, I was blown away by the fact that we were finally in Greenland. I was feeling such a strange mix of emotions such as excitement, anticipation, and exhaustion, and the mix grew tenfold when I boarded the ship. I ended up visiting the “Hub” once I had put away some belongings in my cabin and I was immediately pulled towards the piano. Even though it was only about four days since I left home, I was already missing the few minutes of time that I always reserved for a bit of piano-playing and singing. When I sat in front of the piano, I immediately felt at home. So far I’ve been having a blast meeting everyone and participating in the activities around the ship. Of course, there’s still those remnants of shyness left inside me (although I’ve been trying to ignore it!) so I haven’t quite reached out to everyone yet.

Yesterday when we explored Itilleq Fjord, I was absolutely amazed by the serenity and beauty of the land. The flora and fauna excited me, especially when I saw mushrooms, for some strange reason. I continued to walk and climb, moving farther away from the zodiacs until I found a nice resting spot. Taking in what was around me, I sat down and just smiled. I felt so good, yet I also feel that “good” isn’t even an accurate word for it. What I felt was indescribable. The rocks and snow reminded me of home, yet I knew that it was not because of the tranquility and freshness of the air. The peace and quiet was something that I could never easily find in St. John’s, albeit it being a relatively small city.

After about an hour of exploration, we started to go off into workshops. There were so many interesting ones that I wanted to do, but I ended up choosing a writing session with “JR” (James Raffen) and Sarah Harmer. It was such a great workshop. They gave us time to go off on our own, seek inspiration from our surroundings, and write whatever came to mind. We didn’t even have to write anything, even thinking was fine. We were all chilly when we returned to our thinking circle, so JR started playing a tune on his guitar and we immediately started singing and dancing. It was such a great feeling and it really helped that all the dancing made me feel warmer.

We then visited a small community called Sisimiut. It was such a cozy and beautiful place and I absolutely adored the hike. There were these plants that felt like cotton and I think were actually Arctic Cotton. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure I heard someone mention that. The museums also contained beautiful pictures and insights into Greenlandic culture. The houses were colourful and sort of reminded me of the jellybean houses in Downtown St. John’s, yet the ones in the community seemed sharper and more geometric.

Today, we visited Illulissat and hiked to the ice fjord. It was such a beautiful place with great mountainous areas to hike, yet down below was only ice and the occasional pool. I hiked with some friends and paused occasionally to take in and capture my surroundings. I really started thinking about how amazing this experience really is and how I will probably never be able to experience something like that again. I’m one of those people who start thinking about the end when it’s only just begun and I can’t help getting that recurring sinking feeling of how the days on the ship seem to be going by so fast and how I don’t know how many of these people I’m going to continue to keep in contact with. I love everyone I’ve interacted with so far and I cannot imagine never seeing any of them ever again. It’s definitely a scary thought and I need to stop thinking about it!

I think one magical part of today was definitely during the zodiac cruise when all of the zodiacs were tied together. We sang songs as the sun shone down on all of us and I was blown away when Nivi Hansen and Sarah Harmer were singing together and creating beautiful harmonies. They were standing in front of the sun and all I could see was their silhouettes and their voices creating feelings of warmth within me. I closed my eyes and smiled and I really felt as if all of the people around me were all a part of my family and that I was at home, as cheesy as it sounds.

I definitely miss so many people back home, but I can’t help feeling like I could stay on this expedition forever. It feels like we were in Ottawa 2 years ago when it’s only been four days. Shoutout to my Mom, Dad, sister, and Anton! Miss you guys so much and I can’t wait to come home and share stories and pictures with you all. I’m having a blast!

– Victoria

July 31: Music workshop on the zodiac! photo (c) Martin Lipman #SOIArctic2015

A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on

July 31: photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015

A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on


Kevin Huo
Foster City, California, USA

For the last three days it’s just been one roller coaster ride after another! It’s been an amazing experience. From getting on the ship and seeing the wonderful scenery of the coast of Greenland to embarking on the Ocean Endeavour to see the icebergs and arctic wildlife and engage in wonderful workshops. But, today has been just as wonderful as every other, as they continue to get better and better.

Today was amazing! We traveled out to Ilulissat and to the wonderful ice fjord. Yesterday we got a great chance to travel out to Sisimut to see the local housing, and learned a wonderful thing – the houses there are colorful because of the different uses of land. Along with that I was given the opportunity to visit the culture museum, and had a great hike through the beautiful vegetation. At today’s wonderful workshops we had a great opportunity to learn of the various parts of Greenland. I specifically enjoyed the Bird Watching/Arctic Wildlife workshop. There I learned about the techniques of bird-watching on a vessel of this size. The specfic technique is that you need to measure the time, alongside how far you travel then within each period of time check how many birds are counted.

I also saw a Humpback whale. Literally, the back of it! After yet another great meal I got on a Zodiac and traveled onto land which is Disko Bay. There I hiked across the land to see the ice fjord, which was beyond amazing. It honestly can only be explained in one word – “Ice.” It was just an endless amount scretching across the water. The climb down to the bottom near the ice fjord was amazing! I put my hand down and for the first time in my life I felt the ice. It was a great feeling that truly embodies the spirit as I finally got a chance to grab a piece of ice and taste it. The ice tasted cold, watery, and you know what… like the world. Every piece of it; the land, the ocean, and the sky all combined in one taste, one feeling, one emotion.

Everything today was great with great photos, and everything else it was the best time ever (so far at least). Every moment on the ship just gets better and better. It is kinda like a community of people getting closer and closer together. To end today, just about 30 minutes ago we went on a Zodiac cruise in Ilulissat seeing the icebergs from right on the water. We learned some new things about icebergs, and even saw jellyfish that were the size of cookies. Then to end the day we had the biggest gathering of Zodiacs in the world! It was quite wonderful. The Zodiacs all gathered around and then together we had the best thing in the world! A music concert out on the Zodiacs in the middle of the water. Songs that filled the sky, and drifted across the water right into our ears. The pairing of both music and splashes of the water and the occasional crashing of the icebergs made this music concert a symphony of music.

I just have to say the world is so much bigger than we actually think. It can be quite beautiful, and quite cold.

Tomorrow we sail off to another new adventure and will truly have some great fun while at it! As I always say, the best experiences aren’t planned; they just occur and you need to take the long way around.

– Kevin

July 31: photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015

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July 31: NASA dog, King Kong, and his human, Pascal, photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015

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Dakshita Jagota
St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada

This morning we arrived in Disko Bay. The morning started off by us looking at the overwhelming amount of icebergs that the ship was passing through. I have seen an iceberg before but never one up this close and not hundreds all at the same time. It was as if I was looking at an iceberg for the very first time. At the workshop, I painted a picture of the iceberg from the one I took. In the afternoon we visited Ilulissat, a UNESCO world heritage site known for its ice fjord. We hiked to the ice fjord and it was just a massive sheet of ice extending far into the horizon. The view was indescribable. It was just breathtaking to see all of these icebergs up so close. That was the closest that we have gotten to the ice, and ironically it was also the hottest day I have experienced so far (minus the ones in Ottawa). After supper, we took a Zodiac cruise on our trusted friends, the Zodiacs around the icebergs. Also, just for the record, the sun doesn’t set here so at this point it was still bright outside with the sun shining of off the icebergs. It was just spectacular. Seeing so many icebergs up so close was definitely the highlight of the day. And then of course, how can I forget about the Zodiac party we had in the middle of Greenlandic waters. That moment was magical! It’s still not real that I am actually in the Arctic!

Fun Fact of the day: Did you know that only 10% of the iceberg is actually visible from the top, the other 90% is underwater?

– Dakshita

July 31: Art workshop with Bianca, photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015 #art

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Grace King
St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada

As I have just discovered, my last blog entry was submitted for publishing before I could edit out all of the accidental philosophical thoughts. I am trying to be more objective this time.

The sensation of waking up to Geoff Green saying “good morning, Students On Ice!” over the speaker system in my bedroom is not something I will quickly forget. This morning, we were also greeted by icebergs and blue waters. Not just one iceberg, but many. Icebergs everywhere, icebergs in every direction. Imagine sitting down with your journal and cup of coffee in the library, only to look up through the ship window and see a gigantic body of ice floating twenty feet away from the boat.

We’ve been sailing through Disko Bay towards the ice fjord of Illulissat. This ice fjord, certified as a UNESCO World Heritage site, is commonly dubbed the “iceberg factory” of the north – ice that calves from this sheet is then carried away from Greenland on the ocean conveyer belt and floats along the eastern coast of Canada. I guess that I now know the origin of the icebergs that end up in the harbour of St. John’s by which I live. We hiked through Illulissat and all of the way to the ice fjord, where we each quietly found our own little rock or ledge to sit on and to simply absorb the sight before our eyes.

The ice sheets of Greenland are melting at a rate unprecedented by predictions of scientists. These natural wonders, these fundamental sources of ice, may no longer exist in only one or two decades. The real question – which we, as a species, should be asking ourselves – is how we can best find national or international solutions to minimalize the impacts of the already inevitable climate change.

P.S. Much love to my family, friends and SGN. I must be off, for I have an iceberg Zodiac cruise to attend.

– Grace

July 31: photo (c) Martin Lipman #SOIArctic2015

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Michal Leckie
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Each day gets better and better! We had a wonderful morning on the ship today. It was a very sunny day unlike yesterday’s fog. Today was the first day we saw icebergs! They were overwhelming. Almost like watching a movie or reading a book. The ship feels like a movie set. They reminded me of ruins, of a town. Sunken, lopsided, and crumbling, somehow they looked once inhabited, or alive. We ate lunch while observing more icebergs floating alongside us.

After lunch, we took zodiacs to an incredible town called Illulissat nestled in among the ice and the cliffs. We took a boardwalk winding down the hillside, slightly raised from the marshy ground. We turned a corner, and the glacier peeked up, and it was incredible. Surprising, too. I knew it was coming, but even so, it was hard to believe. We spent time climbing the cliffs in front of the glacier. To get to a higher point, we had to jump over a little ditch, but there were many helping hands. Many photos were taken here. While being incredibly picturesque, there was an underlying sadness that accompanied it. I can’t quite describe it, but somehow, the icebergs looked lonely. Perhaps I felt this way since I know about their past (when they were much larger) and their future (their existence is threatened). We had all prepared for a cold landing since yesterday was so cold, but we all ended up having to take off many layers and stuffing them into our bags.

After the hike back, we walked around the town. Kids were playing soccer on a dry dirt field. We visited the supermarket. It’s always fun and interesting seeing supermarkets in other countries. It was quite large. The produce was very expensive. There were also many interesting looking meats, which as a vegetarian were not so appetizing. There were visitors from the National Geographic Explorer. I spoke with some of them and they were mostly from the US. They are also headed to Baffin Island,  but one day before us. Fred Roots, and incredibly interesting and enthusiastic educator climbed the hills, even over some rough patches to get to the perfect view. He reminds me a lot of my grandmother (Hi Omi!) who is also a very keen and happy hiker.

We had a delicious dinner while floating amongst the ice. Ben, all the water at meals is filled with ice (not crushed up though)! You’d be happy. We are now getting ready to go for a zodiac cruise! I’ll have to go get ready with all my warm and waterproof gear. See you very soon, Mom, Dad, Ben, and Farley!

Fun fact: ‘Negative mass balance’ means more mass (ice and snow) is removed from glaciers than is added. Most glaciers in the world have this quality.

Going along with my outdoor education teacher, Mr. Allen’s, tradition:

Rose (positive thing today): Seeing the icebergs emerge and grow as we climbed down the boardwalk.

Thorn (negative thing today): The smell of diesel while boarding and landing on the zodiac.

Toot toot (recognizing someone who did something that you found impressive): Fred’s energy while walking despite his age!

– Michal

July 31: photo (c) Martin Lipman #SOIArctic2015

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Michael Mehreteab
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

What a day! On our second “full day” (seems like it’s been over a week now!), we were woken up with a whale sighting. Unfortunately, not all of us got to see them, but even knowing that they were there swimming right beside us was good enough.

After our delicious breakfast, we passed by Disko Bay where we saw gigantic and beautiful icebergs. Everyone was amazed by the sheer beauty of them and scrambled to take photos. However, no matter how good the photos may be, they pale when compared to the actual experience of being there. You truly  have to come to get the full experience. Concluding our iceberg adventure, we had the chance to attend workshops on the ship. There was everything, from learning about glaciers to learning about space to a kayaking workshop.

I attended the science workshop led by Daniele where we looked at pond specimen through a microscope and played with “fairy” shrimp (by making them fight their predators). I also had the chance to learn about how Arctic species survive underwater and about primitive Arctic species that still exist today. Concluding our workshops, we had lunch (also delicious) and we had a zodiac landing where  we arrived in the Greenlandic town of Illulissat.

At Illulissat, we took a long hike to a fjord, but I can’t complain because the destination was very worth it. When we arrived at the ice fjord, we were overwhelmed by its beauty and immensity. For many of the students, it was their first time seeing snow and what a first time! Everyone loved it and when we were done, we wished we could stay for longer; but I think even staying forever wouldn’t do this place justice.

After coming back to the ship, we ate dinner and had a semi-impromptu zodiac cruise. The cruise was a great chance to travel very close to the icebergs and get a real chance to feel ocean air. Our zodiac was also one of three to see a humpback whale! We got a chance to see it just on the surface before diving back in.

Today was also a SOI first; all the zodiacs were assembled and we had a surprise concert. It was a great way to connect with each other and strengthen our familial bond.  After returning, we had some more performances and our briefing for our last day in Greenland!

Overall, it’s been a amazing day. Who would’ve thought that I, a student from Mississauga, Ontario, would be seeing icebergs in the middle of the summer!

– Michael

July 31: Building a Qajaq, photo (c) Martin Lipman #SOIArctic2015 #kayak #qajaq

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July 31: photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015

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Justin Milton
Pond Inlet, Nunavut, Canada

We just went to Illulissat, and we hiked to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. There was lots of ice! My hometown (Pond Inlet) gets lots of ice too, but the icebergs in Illulissat were massive! We’re about to go zodiac cruising soon, so that’s all for today!

– Justin

July 31: photo (c) Martin Lipman #SOIArctic2015

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Aislinn Mumford
Providence, Rhode Island, USA

Yesterday, I spent a memorable afternoon in the villiage of Sisimiut. Through the thick rolling fog, I could see that the village was very colorful with all of the houses painted red, green, yellow, or blue. My group began the visit by hiking out to an archaeological site and was able to see the foundation for an ancient turf house.  One that was lived in even before Rome and Greece came into power. Seeing the foundation overlooking the ocean shed some light on Greenland’s history and added context to what we later learned about the village’s past during our visit to the nearby museum. Taking photographs of this picturesque town was my favorite part of the visit, along with the hike.

I saw my first iceberg today! When I woke this morning, our ship was surrounded by ice. After taking hundreds of photos, I spent the rest of the morning on the ship learning more about our surroundings through workshops. I attended a science based workshop where I was able to look at the organisms we collected from an Arctic pond we visited the day before under a microscope. I learned more about the trophic levels of the pond by seeing the relationships between fairy shrimp, beetles, and unicellular organisms. The workshop went until lunch, and afterwards we made a stop at the villiage of Illulissat in Disko Bay.

Like Sisimiut, Illulissat was also very colorful and beautiful. We hopped off of the zodiacs and began a hike to an ice fjord, a world heritage sight and the “factory” that produces all of the icebergs that we saw earlier. If the visibly immense scale of the glacier was not impressive enough, one could imagine the unseen ninety percent of the total ice that lay below. Touring the site is a memory that will last forever in my mind as the ice fjord represents both nature’s majesty and the threat of climate change.

After dinner tonight, we had one more zodiac trip. Using the zodiacs, we took a closer look at the surrounding icebergs and I was even given the opportunity to catch jellyfish, shrimp, and phytoplankton to observe later. The outing ended with all of the zodiacs meeting in one spot for a live music performance and to view the amazing scenery together. Greenland is stunningly beautiful, and I am excited to see more of nature’s wonders tomorrow.

– Aislinn

July 31: photo (c) Martin Lipman #SOIArctic2015

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Myca Nakashook
Pangnirtung, Nunavut, Canada

It’s been six days since I last was home, how crazy is that! Today has been such an amazing time like crazy awesome!!! We did some workshops and then we visited Illulissat, an awesome, incredible place! I loved the icebergs and the hike. We shopped a little bit so I got souvenirs!! We just had supper and it was great, I had some ice cream (my second ice cream of the day!). It was delicious  but I am colddd!!! I’m very excited to learn more things! Going on our zodiac ride soon, going to take pictures of icebergs for an hour. I love you guys! xox you know who you are x) Talk to you soon again.

– Myca

Hi everyone back home! and who ever is reading this. This expedition is so amazing!!!!! Like I suggest you guys do this next year! I learned a lot today and it is only the beginning of the trip. Today we had workshops and there were so many workshops to take but I took Art and Photography with Pat and Rosemarie. I hope that my photos will be better now and that I will show you guys so many pictures when I get back home. I will be collecting plants while we are going to the ice fiord and I will be pressing them with Paul the guy who does Botany. I am very excited to be learning more stuff and more exploring! It’s amazing here in Greenland, everything is so similar to home but in a way its very different.

Some legends are almost the same too. Today we will be visiting another village/community and I forgot
what it is called but I will tell you guys later. I am very excited and eager to learn lots new things here
and I will bring them back home. It’s only day 2 of doing some workshops and exploring and I have seen/learned a lot already. Thanks to everyone who worked very hard to make this happen I am very grateful that I can be a part of this expedition.


p.s You guys keep me going just knowing you guys are proud of me and for encouraging me to keep going and I appreciate that! I love and miss all of you! Aya, (Leona Nakashuk) Babe, (Leslie Qappik) Aasiva (Colleen Nakashuk) and my mom (Susie Zettler) I can go further but I don’t wanna bore you guys lol and everyone else back home! Thanks for all the encouragement and everything else. Again I love you guys!!!!!! <3

July 31: photo (c) Martin Lipman #SOIArctic2015

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Matthew Newell
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

What’s better than waking up in the Arctic on the adventure of a lifetime? Waking up in the Arctic on the adventure of a lifetime surrounded by icebergs of course! Today the Captain brought our ship up close and personal to some incredible icebergs, which I spent a good twenty minutes snapping photos of. They were absolutely mindboggling. I never could have imagined such immense beauty appearing in nature. It takes my breath away that something so wonderful yet terrifying passed right alongside our ship and that I got the chance to view it from mere meters away. Incredible. Lets move forward with my day. I just got back on board the ship after a lengthy hike through Illulissat in which we viewed part of the massive Greenland ice cap from so close that I could hear the ice hitting the water as they fell off.  It was one of the most amazing things that I have ever experienced in my life. The ice stretched on for miles and miles.

I’d love to write more but it is currently dinner time and I have to go!

P.S. I got you a little something from Illulissat Meg! Love you guys!


July 31: photo (c) Martin Lipman #SOIArctic2015

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Lyric Oblin-Moses
Gatineau, Quebec, Canada

We arrived in Illulissat, Greenland at noon where we visited the World Heritage site- the Jackcobsen Fjord,  which has become a symbol of the effect of global climate change on the arctic. The icebergs come down the Jakobshavn Fjord and float out into the ocean. We had the opportunity to watch from the sidelines; not that there was much noticeable motion. The icebergs went up to a couple hundred metres tall and were all tightly side by side. It was almost like watching an ice city make its way to the ocean.

According to a UNESCO document, scientists’ surveys show that “the glacier’s rapid withdrawal in recent years is probably due to rising sea temperatures”. Noticeable changes by scientists are the decline in size of the icebergs and the acceleration of the iceberg’s motion through the fjord over the last decade. The temperature here was hot enough for me to remove 2 layers of clothing and was left in a thin t-shirt in order to feel comfortable during our hike. You can feel how poweful the sun rays are here against your skin and eyes.

We spent the last evening of July 2015 catching jellyfish and shrimp in the zodiacs. Having one caught in your net is the most satisfying feeling- not to mention we were a couple metres from an iceberg a couple stories high.

Anyways I’d like to end this update by reminding my mom to print those documents before August 10.

– Lyric

July 31: Erinn enjoys the view, photo (c) Martin Lipman #SOIArctic2015

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Stephanie Scarlett
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Life on the ship is incredible. Our floating classroom is starting to feel like home as we travel along the coast of Greenland. Greenland is like nothing I have ever seen. When we took the zodiacs to shore today, the first thing I recognized was the fresh plant smell. Mosses, lichens and even berries were abundant, which is something that I could not recognize from the ship. I even tried tasting a little bit of kelp. There is no shortage of surprises so far in Greenland!


July 31: photo (c) Martin Lipman #SOIArctic2015

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Madison Sherritt
Carman, Manitoba, Canada

My SOI experience feels like it started a long time ago when I first applied. It is safe to say that all my expectations have been exceeded. Everything that has happened so far on my trip is fantastic. I’ve seen many different elements of marine and terristrial life, I’ve met many different people from all around the world and I’ve learned about the Greenlandic culture. In all, everything is great.

The scenery is gorgeous as we move past hundreds of  huge icebergs floating beside us. Even just seeing the blue ocean beside us that is so beautiful and scary is amazing. I’ve learned so much from everyone here, not only the experts but the students from all around the world. Even though we have not been gone for long it seems to be going so fast. I’ve been having one of the most interesting experiences of my life and I cannot wait to see what is yet to come in the days ahead!

– Madison

July 31: photo (c) Martin Lipman #SOIArctic2015

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Sally Wen
Vaughan, Ontario, Canada

Today is the last day of July and I just can’t think of a better way to end a month, I don’t know where to start!

It is a beautiful day outside, clear blue skies and a big sun shining above. No fog and no mist, so it is easy to see far into the horizon. The ship is sailing north to Illulissat. As we sailedicebergs started to come into view. It was quite exciting for me since it was my first time seeing actual icebergs!

In the afternoon we arrived at Illulissat, it took us quite a hike up to one of the world greatest wonders —– the Jakobshavn fjord. It is absolutely the most astonishing scenery I have ever seen. On the walk, a wide open grassfield of green come into view, far in the distance the icebergs are blending together with the sky. As you go further down the trail, the icebergs become more visible. It feels like we are walking into a beautiful setting from a Disney movie. The combination of green grasslands and icebergs together is so magical that it is hard to believe it’s real life. At the end of the trail we got to go up the rockey hills to have a better view of the fjord and down the hills to actually touch the ice. This fjord is the primary base for a lot of the icebergs, perhaps even the one the Titanic hit!

After a wonderful dinner back on the ship, we went on a zodiac trip around our ship. On the zodiac we had a chance to come closer to the icebergs that were floating around. In our group we were lucky to have Danielle onboard with us and with the tools he brought, we were able to capture a good amount of jellyfish. Each of us had a chance and I was able to catch a few jellyfish myself- the first jellyfish that I’ve ever caught in my life!! After a good tour around the icebergs all the zodiacs gathered together and we had a “camp fire” with no actual fire, right in the middle of the ocean surround by the icebergs on the zodiac. It was so cool, like how many people get to have a experience of a “camp fire” on a zodiac in the ocean?! A number of staff sang a few songs to wrap up the day and the month. I think there must be no other things better than this.

It was a really long and wonderful day, many memories and I’m sure there is more to come. I can’t wait for the upcoming explorations.

– Sally

July 31: photo (c) Martin Lipman #SOIArctic2015

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July 31: photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015

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Sophia Winkler
Carrboro, North Carolina, USA

First day on board

Yesterday, Thursday, was our first full day on the ship, which gave us an idea of what the remaining days will be like. I woke up early for a yoga class that our ship doctor, Kate, was running, which was a beautiful way to start the day. Imagine looking up from Downward Facing Dog to see foggy mountains racing by.

After breakfast, we took our trusty Zodiac boats from the ship to shore in the Itelliq Fjord, our second fjord of the trip. The shore was littered with smooth stones and slimy seaweed, including ribbons of seaweed taller and wider than myself! Our large group immediately dispersed, going off in all directions to explore the land. There were short grasses growing between rocks, but mostly the ground was covered in large, flat, mossy stones. The stones were so moist from snow and ice runoff that they were covered in incredibly spongy mosses. With every step we bounced along, up hills, around ponds, and down cliffs.

Eventually, the group came together to redivide into workshops: from painting and writing to plankton collection and birdwatching, we had the opportunity to dive into whatever had caught our interest so far. The hardest part of the day was actually deciding which workshop to attend, but the resounding view was that it didn’t matter which one we ended up in- we would be spending two weeks on the ship with these experts and had plenty of time to pick their brains.

I went on the “mammal walk,” which could have more appropriately been named “dung identification,” although perhaps that would have made it less popular. We learned to find signs of animals (including but not limited to mammals) around us and did some birdwatching when we got to the cliffs. We found evidence of Arctic foxes, Arctic hares, ptarmigans, short-eared owls, Arctic crabs, and seagulls. We found where an ancient buildup of bird nests had been, and even the possible location of a former Inuit settlement.

After a lunch of Arctic char and a panel about Greenlandic culture and history by the Greenlandic members of the Students on Ice family (who better to learn from?), we dropped anchor in Sisimiut, Greenland. Our first landing in a community contrasted nicely with our first natural landing, allowing us to see two sides of Greenland.

Sisimiut is the second largest town in the country, with about six thousand people. Sharp wooden cabins painted in bright primary colours poked out of the valley that is Sisimiut as we approached the calm town. We visited a small museum of Greenlandic history that showed us what life was like long ago in the town. Being a lively crowd of almost 200 people, you could say the SOI crew slightly swarmed the town, but they welcomed us nonetheless.

The town’s roads curved through meadows of giant dandelions and other Dr. Seuss-reminiscent wildflowers. A whale’s jawbone formed the arch through which we entered the town. Kayaks (or qajaqs) hung near the water, and we got a lesson in traditional wood and sealskin kayaks from our resident expert, Eric. Exploring the town allowed for the freedom to get to know the culture better through exchanged smiles with Greenlandic people that said “We don’t share a language, but thank you for having us” and lots of questions for our Greenlandic students and staff.

We re-boarded the ship and were greeted with a surprise below: a man from Sisimiut was in his kayak (which included a drysuit that only allows his hands and face to get wet) in the water below our ship, ready to show us how it’s done. The contrast between the Ocean Endeavor and the Greenlanders kayak was incredible, and we were elated when he began performing tricks for us. A one-handed roll, a no-paddle roll, a paddling upside-down trick! The tricks were one thing, but I thing most of us were amazed at the fact that he was getting so cold for us. We knew he was used to it, but we were shivering up on deck in our warm clothes! After our new friend’s generous sendoff, we hauled anchor and hit the high seas.

Any misconceptions we had about the Arctic being a barren, unpopulated wasteland were all disproven today as we spent time on lush mountains and in a Greenlandic community. My understanding of Greenland and the Arctic has already expanded tenfold, and I’ll only get to know it better over the next few days.

Our nightly briefing included a performance by the #1 band out of Greenland, a duo we were hosting for a few days. They played guitars, a banjo, and a saw that made a whalelike sound. Our briefing ended at about 11:30pm when the sun was beginning to fall behind the mountain, although it remained light out. I fell asleep way later than I should have, needing to journal about my day before I forgot a single detail, to the gentle rocking of the ship. I slept like a rock- or should I say an iceberg, floating through the massive Arctic Ocean.

– Sophia

July 31: preparing for the bottle drop, photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015

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July 31: The Ocean Endeavour, our floating classroom, photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015 #ship #Arctic #Greenland

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Alice Xu
Richmond, British Columbia, Canada

Illulissat, Greenland. For all of the readers expecting a souvenir, this is where it came from. Early in the morning, I started my day by the deck of the Ocean Endeavor. There was barely anyone awake, so I sat in silence and reflected on the day before. As I glanced into the distance, I saw (for the first time) these amazing icebergs that we were heading towards. I couldn’t believe it. My heart started beating faster and I felt the slight tingling I usually feel when I’m insanely excited or nervous. I wanted to scream and call everyone over, but there was no one to call. So I ran into my cabin, grabbed my camera, and ran back out. By this point, there were many people here, with their cameras pointed out. They were all taking photos of the gorgeous icebergs whose beauty could not be captured in the still photos that we took.

Unfortunately, our quick encounter with the icebergs ended when we were called to breakfast. But right after breakfast and a quick debrief on the ship, Geoff announced that we could spend a couple minutes on the deck to watch as we passed a massive iceberg. The captain was kind enough to slow down to boat, and we all ran outside to take photos of the iceberg that was right beside the ship. (For another first time,) I was able to see the sparkling of the iceberg and all of the beautiful lines and creases that ran through the ice. I gawked at the massive ice structure in awe, before pulling out my camera and taking a million photos.

Our session ended on a high note–we went straight into our individual workshops, from artistic points of view of the Arctic to science-focused ones, and the workshops could not have gone better. I attended a photography workshop, where I learned the importance of capturing the image in certain areas to make the photo more appealing. We set sail as we ate lunch, then we were able to head out to Illulissat to make out way to an ice fjord. On the hike up, we passed dozens of boutiques and small shops, with the buildings decorated in these beautiful bright colors that lit up the town. The further we went, the more beautiful and less populated the town became. Greenland soon became rock, shrubs, and grass, with a crystal blue sky that the sun shone upon. I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful the scenery was, and the photos that we took could not be close to capturing the real experience.

I was able to travel all the way to the end of the mountains that stretched across the fjord, with the ice almost at reach. Unfortunately, we ran out of time towards the end, and I ended up finding creative ways to climb back onto the mountains. It was the most incredible experience and it felt like I was back in Vancouver, BC; being able to hike near the cold and refreshing water. But this Greenlandic experience was a million times better. I have never seen icebergs in my entire life before, and right in front of me, there they were–at least a hundred of them. They were each unique and had their own stories to tell, with some smooth and round while others were rough and jagged.

After we headed back and finished our dinner, the Leacross scholarship recipients were called out to take a photo (shoutout to Roslyn!). We headed out again after that for a zodiac cruise around these gigantic icebergs. It was incredible. I wish we were able to spend more time travelling around the icebergs, as there was so much more we wanted to see.

I can’t believe that all of this is real. Every photo taken outside is a masterpiece, because it is truly beautiful all around here. Even at 11PM, the night here is still bright and absolutely stunning. The sunset gives a pastel light blue-red-grey mix and only lights up the icebergs so much better. As we end another great day, I’m starting to feel more and more attached to this amazing family of mine.

Signing out,

– Alice

July 31: photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015

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Madeline Yaaka
Kangiqsujuaq, Quebec, Canada

Hello everyone! I want to start off by saying that I don’t write in English, so I might make some spelling mistakes.  Anyway, I have met so many inspiring and talented  people from all over the world in the past few days.  It’s amazing what they all have to offer.

The journey here was difficult.  Travelling along Hudson coast was hard. I had to stay a night in Salluit and then take a nine hour flight to Montreal.  It was pretty awkward when I didn’t see the person waiting for me at the airport right away.  The guy that picked me up from the airport (Daniele) is a scientist that examines climate change in the Arctic Ocean, he’s pretty awesome. That evening, I stayed at the Quality Inn with the other students that had arrived earlier in Montreal. We had dinner there and got to know some of the SOI staff. We had fun. My roommate was from Salluit. The next day we went on a train from Dorval that took us to Ottawa.

When we arrived, one of the SOI palentologists picked us up and we got to learn about Dinosaurs. His name is Kieran and he has travelled up North before for digs and has actually found dinosaur bones in Nunavut (how cool is that)!  While in Ottawa, we stayed in Carleton University, which was a great facility and even had a Tim Hortons.  We went on a tour of the Museum of Nature on the first day. On the second day, we went on another tour of the Museum of Nature, but this time it was to a facility in Gatineau, which is not open to the public. Next, we went on a tour of Parliament and learned all about Canada’s history. Then we returned to the residence and prepared for our big departure to Greenland.  Don’t worry mom, I sent the mail before we left!

The journey began at 5:30 am, when we had to get up to catch our 7:30 flight.  It was a charter, so we didn’t have to go through security. The flight was 4 hours long and we had to stop in Iqaluit for fuel, but we didn’t get out of the airplane. When we arrived in Kangerlussuaq it was so exciting!!! Everyone was so happy.  After we got off the plane we went to a lake (I forgot what it’s called) and we were able to see the Sondre Stromfjord.  It was beautiful.  After we were in Kangerlussuaq, we stopped in an old camping site called Ittilik fjord to learn about the environment there. It was awesome.  Greenland looks so much like home.  It has the same kind of plants and the temperature was similar.  

We then boarded our ship.  It is really fancy and I watched the slideshow that is always playing in the hall (it shows pictures of all the other SOI expeditions).  I actually saw a picture of my home town. The next day we went to Sissimiut and walked around to old graves and actually saw human bones.  I got to meet the family of one of the guides.  We went to a really nice museum, and I learned a lot of things about Greenlandic culture. We set sail that evening to Illulissat and right now we are parked near that town. We just came back from looking around icebergs in the zodiacs.  Earlier, we went in the community and walked to Jakobshavn Fjord. I saw cute puppies with blue eyes during the hike.  The fjord was really beautiful, but it was really hot there.

I saw two Minke whales today. Also, I went shopping with my friend, Sarah, and bought a lot of cool things. It is really amazing here.  I am so glad I have this amazing opportunity to learn so many amazing things about the environment.

P.S I’m sorry mom for not writing everyday.  I forgot to mention that I bought mattaq from a hunter today (beluga blubber)

– Madeline

July 31: photo (c) Martin Lipman #SOIArctic2015 A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on

July 31: photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015 #Greenland #Arctic

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July 31: Fog bow, photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015

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July 31: Painting, photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015

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July 31: photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015 #art

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July 31: photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015 #art

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July 31: Jolly mentors Daniel, photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015 #art

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July 31: Working on the Qajaq, photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015

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July 31: photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015 #Greenland

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July 31: photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015 #Greenland

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July 31: photo (c) Lee Narraway #SOIArctic2015 #Greenland

A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on

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