SOI Arctic 2016: Day 4

How magical! Here we are on day one of our voyage and already sharing space and time with the Kings and Queens of the Arctic.

As we sailed down the mouth of Frobisher Bay towards the Hudson Strait, and just as we finished our lunch we encountered, a small stretch of drift ice, and in the space of 90 minutes saw no less than nine Polar bears, including a mother and two cubs.

A few of those bears had also just finished lunch. On one ice pan were the remains of a freshly killed and eaten seal, now a meal for a dozen or so fat sea gulls.  As we drifted through the ice, here and there, we saw other blood stained patches of ice, evidence that these bears are feeding well, at least this week.

What a difference a day makes. Just  24 hours earlier we were in plus 30-degree heat in Ottawa feeling stranded with a delayed flight and looking at weather conditions in Iqaluit that was fogged in and had been for four days.

By late Saturday  afternoon the weather began to shift and our pilots, saw a window to land between eight and ten PM   and they were right, between nine and ten PM, both charter 737’s, slipped under the low cloud and fog and got us safely on the ground.

Now we are at Sea and the 2016 Students on Ice Arctic Expedition is fully underway.

For the past few days our plans were  uncertain because of the predictable Arctic weather and ice conditions.

Even before we left Ottawa, a hasty plan “B” went into effect. Heavy ice conditions in Cumberland Sound forced us to drop Pangnirtung, Qikiqtarjuaq, and Auyuttuq National Park from our itinerary.

Our Captain on the 5500-ton Ocean Endeavour, Denis Raadja was more comfortable, with a departure from Iqaluit, rather than the tricky tides and currents in Kuujjuaq`s Koaksoak River.

Past experiences and today’s bear observations prove again, that regardless of which course we chart, it is a huge country and the educational and natural experiences abound. One of our gifted educators and authors, James Raffan put it into perspective after an hour and a half of continuous Polar Bear sightings.  “Just a week ago, on another expedition, I travelled the very same route with 200 people and we encountered no floating ice and saw zero polar bears”

You’re invited to check out our website for updates and changes to our program that now includes The Torngat Mountains National Park in Nunatsiavut [Labrador] and Hebron.

Its an exciting program that is now beginning to unfold.

We’ve  got almost a dozen workshops, from building an flying drones to learning about Arctic and Inuit culture, the environment and climate change, crafts traditional crafts, music, writing, and the importance of mental well being.

In the days ahead on the blog, we will give you some insights into the activities.

Our student contingent is remarkable. One hundred and twenty, from 13 different countries, there are ten provinces and territories represented as well as 45 Inuit students from all four Inuit regions in Canada   and Greenland. More than 80 percent of our students are here on full scholarships from our many sponsors.  That is also a new record and one that we hope to break again next year. There are students from the United States, Malaysia, China and India, including 18 year old Sahel Dwivedi from Amritsar in Punjab. He describes himself as an innovator and has received awards from the President of India and a Japanese Nobel Laureate. Sahel showed us all he has other talents, including a flare for stand-up comedy. It was a new twist on climate change, or more appropriately climate difference.

When landed in Canada, he thought Ottawa`s cooler temperature was what the Arctic would feel like.

He joked finally landing in Iqaluit and feeling six degrees Celsius, was his version of minus fifty and then added what was most striking is every experience with water. This is the first time where he could drink out of every tap. The first time he saw a body of open water, the first time in a zodiac or any boat on open water. He couldn’t resist tasting the salt water of   Frobisher Bay- not so good-  and yes, he even thought about “jumping in.`

We are glad he didn’t try that, but he will get a chance for a polar swim with everyone else before the trip ends on August fourth.

Watch this space for photos, videos and blogs from today! And follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for regular updates!

 

Abhayjeet Sachal – Surrey, BC, Canada

Day 1 at Sea:

As I stood on the ship’s balcony, I felt every senstion around me. The scenery was beautiful.  The cold wind rushed against my face. Everything was perfect. Absolutely perfect. 

Our first morning on the ship was great. The food from breakfast was fantastic, and it felt like I was on a cruise ship. The main difference is that cruise ships aren’t this fun! I went to a music workshop with Tim Baker (the lead singer of Hey Rosetta) and Ian Tamblyn, and it was just amazing listening to them sing. We also talked about writing our own songs without overthinking the process. 

After lunch, I heard Jeff announce that there were polar bears outside! As quickly as possible, I put some warm clothes on, grabbed my camera, and rushed outside. Then, over the course of a few hours, I stayed outside and took beautiful pictures of the majestic animals. There were a few laying on iceburgs while other polar bears were swimming through the cold water to catch seals. Although it is summer, I found it a bit surpsising how the polar bears were basically in the middle of the vast water area. Only then, when I saw everything around me, did I really realize how beautiful the Arctic is. By the end of the day, we had seen a total of 9 polar bears, more than any SOI expedition had ever seen in one day. 

Following a great science workshop and dinner, the final briefing of the day introduced the chance to kayak and paddleboard to students. Although I cannot swim very well and have never been kayaking before, I signed up for the chance to kayak in the Arctic! I want to experience everything that I can this summer. Therefore, I am sure I will have no regrets in the future from this once in a lifetime opportunity.

PS: I hope my family is having a great road trip across Eastern Canada today!

Aiden Cyr – Ottawa On, Canada.

Okay so unfortunatlely I just worked on this blog for the last hour and and all my work has been lost. I didn’t realise my computer  was unplugged and I didn’t save my document! When it shutdown without warning I lost my work.  I’m very frusturated however  I’m using all of  my patience to sit down and re-write a  much more concise version of the original story which could have albeit been a chapter in a novel. Maybe I saved you all some time as I’m cutting straight to the exciting  stuff. Okay deep breaths here we go.

I’ve had to practise a lot of patience throughout the travel day of the expedition. Heavy fog and delays waiting for three hours on a humid school bus, three hours in a plane with no tv and multiple hours hanging around waiting for news and hopes of clear enough weather for landing in Iqaluit. However despite all this I am still writing with a big smile knowing that my patience must be a part of this good karma all the staff is talking about because everything is going perfectly. An incredibe movie-like plane manouever that was announced as being the craziest landing the air-traffic controllers had seen in Iqaluit was a success. We made it to the Arctic. The positive energy of the people here really rubs off on you and its probably why I’m perservering through my frusturation about my last blog and continuing my blogging.  Yesterday I lived out of my tiny carry-on and despite experiencing some pretty hefty wind chill on the Zodiac because of the limited room in my bag  I survived.

I have made some awesome friends here already. People that I can laugh with, have hour long conversations about politics with and even talk about people’s hunting achievements. Yeah Egoonik has a polar bear license I think and is a celebrated hunter in his community. Wicked.  The people are truly extraordinary here. I had the pleasure of accompanying Sahil an Indian boy of my age and a young inventor who has met Nobel prize winnners and the President of India for his development of a mobile app that when programed with a device he invented can water and irrigate a small field with a mere text message. So basically your plants text you when they need to be watered and you text a code back and the system waters them.  I’m not sure how it all works but like c’mon that’s so cool. Anyways in particular Sahil has added some hilarity to the expedition. He has never experienced temperatures below 17 degrees. When he got off the plane with me he sat on the stairs overwhelemd with excitement of the cold air running through his hair. Watching his reaction was so funny. Wearing dress shoes and thin layers in all honesty I’m not sure how he has survived but I’ve been accompanying him and keeping him out of trouble as he has a knack for such things. He had never seen the ocean or even been on a boat! He decided it was a good idea to drink the salt water depsite the countless warnings I gave him and found out that perhaps I’m wiser than I look.  I shared a Zodiac with him and some other friends and had to make sure Sahil didn’t do anything crazy! He wanted to reach over board and run his hand through the water. Apparently a strong advisory wasn’t enough and actually it was by physically preventing (like  pretty much hugging)  him  that I stopped  my friend  from doing  such a foolish thing. Anyways the Zodiac ride was something out of a Call of Duty mission and the boat is so fantastic the experience has remained surreal. Okay well I’ll write more about all the other cool things but let me tell you one final thing about my experiencre today. After my sleep in we were told to look starboard at a Polar Bear on some sea ice! The majestic beast was followed by the appearence of two cubs. The entire crew was captivated and the boat came to a Halt to photograph the jaw-dropping natural scene of the world’s largest predator in its natural habitat. Ya so that was alrIght! It doesn’t stop there; the bear sitings were so Plentiful we ended up counting nine polAr bears in one hour! An extrordinalrily Rare feat according to the Experts aboard the ship. I caNnot describe the beauty of the experience.  My writing ability isn’T profound enough to describe what I felt inside looking at the Polar Bears diving in the water or tearing apart a Seal one of them caught. Nine polar bears. Nine! Oh and we also saw a Walrus so bascially my trip has already been made.

I’ll be writing more tomorrow so stay tuned for more adventure and a calmer less concerned writer with the time lost working on the previous blog! think I shed a small tear. Totally kidding!!!

This trip has been incredible. Looking forward to writing more about all the great things and people apart  the Student’s on Ice Expedition.

Bye for now… Far Away Near IN Spirit!! Thanks for reading my 2 hour and something creation! I’ll write tomorrow.

 

 

Amy Johnson – PhD Student

Hello everyone! The SOI trip so far has been an amazing experience and we have only been on the ship for one day! We left Ottawa yesterday evening after our flights were delayed due to bad weather in Iqaluit. We managed to land in Iqaluit thanks to some fancy maneuvering by our pilot and then boarded our zodiacs for a 20 minute ride in the foggy, dark bay out to our floating home for the next two weeks, the Ocean Endeavour. This morning, we all woke up excited as our ship travelled down Frobisher Bay. We started off doing safety drills on the ship and then headed to our workshops for the morning. I, of course, chose to attend the wildlife sighting workshop on the top deck where we saw our first polar bear of the trip! The bear was swimming alongside our boat and it was so exciting to see a bear so soon. After lunch, we went back on deck as the ship travelled through a region with lots of ice. We saw seven polar bears in this area! The bears were drifting along on their ice floes, some of them with seal kills. One of the highlights was seeing a mother with her two cubs! Overall a very fun day and looking forward to tomorrow in the Torngats Mountains National Park!

Angela Zeng – Brooklyn, NY, USA.

I’M IN THE ARCTIC! Wow, I never expected myself to say that…but here I am! So the last couple of days consisted of me just exploring Ottawa and getting to really know everyone that’s going to be with me for the next two weeks! We stayed at uOttawa. Ottawa, and just Canada in general, is SUPER PRETTY. It’s very clean and I really like the atmosphere. Oh yeah, I met the prime minister…..I sat next to the prime minister….yeah that’s right.

On 7/21-7/23 we went to the Canadian Museum of Nature! That was great because that was where we spent most of these three days. It was really nice looking at the different exhibits and getting a behind-the-scenes look at everything! Yesterday, we finally boarded the plane to go to the Arctic. I got the feeling that most of us were feeling really excited and anxious to go there! When we got off the plane, we all rode the bus to the beach to ride….THE ZODIAC. It was midnight and we were riding a zodiac to our ship! That ride was an experience of a lifetime in itself haha. I thought I was going to fall off the zodiac and that I wouldn’t be there for the next two weeks!

When I got on the ship I was blown away by how pretty the ship looked! The atmosphere inside the ship made me feel like I was at home. By then it was around 1 in the morning so most of us were tired. After our nightly debriefing session, it was time to head to our rooms. I met my roommate Danielle! She is an awesome person to be around! We talked for a little bit and slept.

I slept like a baby last night. I woke up this morning feeling refreshed and ready to go out there and explore! We went to go eat breakfast and of course, the food was absolutely amazing! The dining area has windows surrounding the room, so the view outside was stunning. To see so many glaciers and icebergs while eating is the best feeling in the world. Afterwards, I went back into my room and unpacked my things and wrote in my journal. It’s really nice taking the time out of the day to really process everything that’s happening and has happened.

Soon after we had our morning debriefing. I was laughing so much; I really had a great time. Then we went to our different workshops which was really interesting! I went to the photography workshop, which was really interesting since I never thought about doing photography before. The workshop leader made us pair up to practice taking shots and make a story. The story that my friend Meera and I did was hilarious: it was of me falling off the ship haha. Soon after we had lunch (delicious) and I was just chatting with some of the staff! I was admiring the view while eating pasta and salad.

Afterwards I went back to the room to do some journaling. Geoff suddenly said on the speaker that there were polar bears out on the icebergs. I WAS SO EXCITED! I have only ever seen a polar bear in a zoo. I went outside on the deck and I saw this AMAZING view of this mountain with the fog covering the top part of the mountain with the peak of sunshine. That was the absolute best view I have ever seen in my life. In total, I saw about 9 polar bears and 1 walrus in 1 hour (pretty neat haha and supposedly pretty rare.) I took loads of awesome pictures!

I went back inside and we had a presentation about navigation, which was really insightful. It felt really nice to have everyone together in one room to listen to this speaker. Afterwards, we separated and went off to our own workshops, this time, meditation and mindfulness. I went up to the studio and there were quite a number of people up there. At this point we were all so tired that meditation was just what we needed. In one of our practices I actually took a nap haha. The workshop leader actually gave me some pretty neat tips to bring back home.

We still had time left over afterwards so we decided to do some coloring! It was extremely calming and awesome to have some quiet time and hang out with some friends.  However, for one of the exercises, the workshop leader asked us to do some walking meditation, which I thought was weird. She made us walk in a circle mindfully, but while I was doing that I got super seasick and dizzy. It didn’t help that the room I was in was the tallest part of the ship. I thought I was going to throw up. So I decided to go down to my room and rest for a little bit since I had an hour to spare. There I was watching this one movie about people climbing Mt. Everest. I also tried to meditate a little bit and practice what I learned today. Eventually, I took a nap and woke up to hear that it’s dinner!

Dinner was GREAAAAAAT! It was like fancy  restaurant food and we had a waiter and everything. Afterwards we had our nightly debriefing session.

Blake Russell – Lewisporte, NL, Canada.

What a great day today has been and yesterday as well! Arrived in Iqaluit around 10:30 PM. Happy to leave Ottawa, not a place of my interest but okay for a short visit. Arrived on the ship after a 15 minute Zodiac ride ( my type of an experience or place). Had a short briefing and settled into bed by 1:30 AM.

We set sail by 6 AM and on the go by 8:30. Had breakfast and started the day with another briefing. Later, I visited a station on bones and skins and their uses. Shortly after lunch, we got into some rough ice. Shortly after, the wildlife started showing up. Several seals, 9 polar bears, a walrus and some seabirds. We also saw places where bears killed seals and a fresh seal kill where gulls were feeding on the little bit of leftovers. The staff say it was very unusual to see so many polar bears in such a small area (maybe 2-3 hours of steady steaming through the ice).  I was very surprised too because I didn’t expect to see them so quickly, if any at all.

It is quite cold here, 4-6 degrees but it seems much colder than Newfoundland’s 4-6 degrees.  Overall it has been an amazing, information- and education-filled couple of days and I cannot wait for tomorrow!

Polar bear in Frobisher Bay. Photo (c) Martin Lipman #SOIArctic2016 #FloatingClassroom #NatureforAll #StudentsonIce

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

Catherine Miousse – Executive Director

Inspiration.

Un premier contact avec avec l’air salin me plonge dans mes pensées… Mes racines gaspésiennes refont surfaces. La fraîcheur, le vent, les montagnes, je me sens dans mon élément. Décrire la beauté du paysage est plus qu’une tâche ardue. Le spectacle blanc que la nature nous offre est à couper le souffle!

Nous avons mis les moteurs ce matin et au passage, nous avons eu le privilège d’observer plusieurs espèces nordiques installées sur leur banquise; un morse, quelques phoques, neuf ours polaires dont une une petite famille composée d’une maman et ses enfants (petit clin d’oeil à la mienne, gros bisous xox)

Pour l’instant, l’aventure est imprévisible et c’est ce qui me plaît le plus! Nous avons changé plusieurs fois les plans ou l’itinéraire. Notre leader d’expédition, Geoff, nous rappelle constamment que flexibility is the key dans ce genre de périple. Nous nous dirigeons actuellement vers le Torngats Park pour y faire une excursion et nous devrions y être demain. Que les découvertes continuent de se multiplier… J’ai soif d’en apprendre plus sur une culture avec laquelle je partage plusieurs valeurs fondamentales.

Catherine Miousse

Danielle Takazo – Deline, NT, Canada.

I’ve been away from home for a really good week and a half. Ottawa was great, making new friends and meeting new people, as well as learning.  As the days go by, I am missing home but I know adventure takes you out of where you come from. My first night on the ship was great as well. Sleeping on it I felt like a baby. I was out in a second, after a long day of trying and hoping we’d make it to Iqaluit. Karma was on our side and we made it. I am truly glad and thankful for the people who made this Arctic expedition possible. I will remember this experience forever, as well as everything that came with it.

Our first day on the ship was blast. We saw 9 nine amazing polar bears within an hour’s time. One polar was a female with two baby cubs. They were really cute. I wanted to hug them but I know they’ll just eat my face, so pictures were the next best thing. Another polar bear was eating a seal. We also saw  a walrus from afar. Luckily I brought my binoculars!  Seeing seals swim around, and seeing all of these animals and scenery in person, is amazingly breath taking.

The day goes by fast, but I’m taking in all I can before I go home: pictures, conversations, scenery, learning, relaxing, reading, trying to learn as much as I can before it’s all over. I cannot wait to go home with alll that I will have learned and gained from Students on Ice.

You are all amazingly awesome people, MAHSI CHO (thank you in north slavey)!!!

Florin Najera-Uresti – Pharr, TX, USA

Day 2 aboard the Ocean Endeavor! We began the morning with a nice and hot breakfast served by the amazing crew aboard, who make this entire experience so special, like an Arctic cruise, I like to say. In the late morning we had a variety of workshops to chose from. I took part in the photography/storytelling one; although it was short, a lot of very useful knowledge was gained. I finally feel like I’m beginning to get a grip of my camera! After a great lunch, we spotted 9 polar bears and I was able to capture some incredible shots that I’m really excited to share as soon as I can. One of the amazing photographers on board allowed me to use one of her very high end lenses and I captured this incredible shot of a polar bear- it is poster quality, I promise. In the late afternoon I attended another workshop: songwriting. We were able to have a finished song which was performed tonight at the closing statement/briefing ceremony. I never thought of myself as a song-writer but I think over the next few days I’ll attempt writing a song.

Tonight we leave Frobisher Bay as we enter the Hudson Strait. Tomorrow we will possibly go out on the zodiacs and make our very first landing at the Torngat Mountains National Park. I also signed up for paddleboarding and kayaking! Exciting days ahead.

Hope everything is going great back home!

Love, Flo

 Janine Machmer – Pangnirtung, NU, Canada.

Today has been the first day of our sailing expedition, waking up this morning felt unreal. Stepping out on the deck to nice cold fresh air felt like I was back home. So far  we’ve seen some walruses and about 9 polar bears just on the first day!! One mama bear with its two cubs which was pretty awesome while some others were eating seals on top of some sea ice and swimming along the ice. It has been an amazing first day, I’m excited for what the other days has to offer, what communities we’ll be visiting and see while we’re there.

Our ship is pretty fancy with awesome welcoming staff that treat us so good. We’re becoming a family here, making great friends from all over the world which is pretty cool. We’ll be having dinner soon and talk about the exciting stuff we’ve done today such as workshops, animal watching, and getting to know everyone else on board the ship and head to bed as tomorrow will be another great busy filled day. We will be doing our first shore landing tomorrow on the zodiacs and explore on the land, do some workshops of our choice, and explore our ship some more. It is my very first time blogging here so I really don’t know what else to write about, but I will be sure to write a lot more tomorrow.

I know that my parents and friends will be checking this website every day till the expedition is over. So I just wanna say that I am doing all right, and I think I may have felt some seasickness for the first time earlier today. Not the greatest feeling ever, but I am doing better, just looking forward to it all here. Mum, dad I miss you guys and I love you,  I hope everything back home is doing good and that the weather is getting better. We’re just going through some fog and clouds with a some wind. I miss my bed, although the beds here on board the ship are pretty good and comfy but no other bed beats mine!

And Cole, I’m doing good, I sure do miss talking to you already and hearing your laugh. I can’t wait till I get to be with you again, love you. Just 11 more days till the expedition is over and I’ll get to see you all again! And I’m not too sure if Martha and Solomon will see this but hey, I miss you guys like crazy and hope you guys aren’t too bored without me!! I will be sure to get a little something for all of you in Greenland next week.

Anyways, I’m going and I’ll be sure to write a lot more tomorrow so stay turned and take care everyone.

Edouard Toma – Gatineau, QC, Canada

Nous nous sommes réveillés ce matin dans nos cabines à 8h30 après une longue journée passée dans l’avion et dans l’autobus. C’était notre première bonne nuit de sommeil car à l’Université, il y avait des travaux pendant la nuit et les lits étaient inconfortables. Nous sommes allés déjeuner au buffet et nous sommes par la suite allés explorer le bateau en marchant sur le bord, nous n’avons rien vu de spécial mais nous avons rencontré de nouvelles personnes. Une personne en particulier, Derry, croyait qu’il fallait apporter un costume de bain pour la piscine du bateau, il a été surpris d’apprendre que nous allions tous devoir sauter dans l’eau de l’Arctic pendant le voyage, nous avons essayé de le convaincre que c’était vrai car il croyait qu’on lui mentait, nous nous sommes tous bien amusés avec cette situation. Quelques minutes plus tard, nous avons fais une pratique d’évacuation en cas d’accident, la pratique était longue, mais je pense qu’elle était toutefois nécessaire. Nous avons par la suite écouté les messages du matin avant de choisir un atelier pour le reste de l’avant-midi. J’ai pris un atelier d’observation pour animaux, nous avons vu plusieurs oiseaux et nous avons même vu un ours polaire qui nageait dans l’eau. C’était vraiment très intéressant parce qu’un naturaliste en particulier, Olle, m’a beaucoup parlé des différentes sortes d’oiseaux qu’on pouvait voir. Nous sommes allés manger au buffet, avant de nous diriger vers l’extérieur du bateau où nous avons passés la majeure partie de l’après-midi à regarder la glace pour apercevoir des animaux, nous avons vu plusieurs ours polaires, 9 je pense. Nous avons aussi vu des carcasses de phoques entrain de se faire manger par des oiseaux et j’ai profité de l’occasion pour apprendre comment les ours polaires chassent. Vers la fin de la séance d’observation, nous avons finalement vu un phoque qui était vivant, mais dès que nous avons tourné la tête, il avait déjà plongé.  Ce qui était le plus fascinant était le fait que tous les experts font des commentaires et nous apprenent tout ce qu’ils peuvent sur ce qu’on voit. Les Inuits qui sont avec nous sur le bateau nous parlent eux aussi, ils nous apprenent plusieurs choses sur leur culture et nous apprenent même comment parler en inuktitut. Nous sommes par la suite allés dans le salon où nous avons écouté une présentation sur comment vivre notre expérience à Students on Ice, c’était un bon moment pour rentrer car je commençais vraiment à avoir froid. La présentation était intéressante, mais elle l’ai devenue encore plus lorsque j’ai finalement remarqué que Mikkie, un des accompagnateurs, me dessinait dans son journal, je trouve qu’il m’a vraiment dessiné avec beaucoup de talent. Nous avons par la suite eu le choix entre plusieurs ateliers, j’ai decidé de continuer à écrire mon blogue. Pendant que je l’écrivais, je me faisais souvent distraire par mes amis qui n’arrêtaient pas de dire des expressions que je trouvais hilarantes.

Julia Richardson – P.E.I. Canada.

It would seem that in the course of 24 hours I have gone from sweating like a pig and dreaming of jumping into the Arctic sea to shivering on a boat just above its waters. However, although Ottawa was nice I have decided that I much prefer it here in the frozen North compared to the stifling heat ‘down south’.

The deciding factor was not so much the temperature difference but the variation of horizons. I have never been a city person, mostly because I grew up in rural PEI, so breathing in the fresh Nunavut air was nothing short of a breath of relief. Yet this province is nothing like my little Island floating somewhere to the South. The first difference is that you have mountains; long spiky ridges of them, rising above the grey waters like the spine of some enormous serpent. Let us not forget the fact that floating beside the Ocean Endeavour’s flanks are chunks of ice blushing a rich blue.

My experiences here have also been a thumb’s up. Yesterday may have been rough but today started right by going to bed at roughly 1:00 AM and then sleeping in until 8:30 AM, which overall wasn’t terrible. Needless to say I slept like a log, though I must say that waking up to the ‘ground’ swaying below me was a thrilling experience. Breakfast was served at the Polaris Restaurant in the ship and was exquisite to say the least. As I was heading back to my room afterwards I was interrupted when there was an announcement of a polar bear sighting! When I arrived on the top deck with camera in hand I soon discovered that there was not just one polar bear, but three more; a mother and two cubs.

My estimation for the number of polar bear sightings throughout the duration of the trip could be counted on one hand. To count the amount of polar bears we saw today you would need two. In just 2 hours myself and my fellow Students On Ice had seen a grand total of 9 polar bears! I even got to see a walrus shortly before it slipped back into the waters!

 

Luciano Martin Ayala Valani – Sherbrooke, QC, Canada

Ce matin nous avons eu la chance de pouvoir se réveiller un peu plus tard dû à notre arrivée tardive hier soir. Après un bon déjeuner, Abhay et moi sommes partis à l’extérieur prendre des photos des îles que nous pouvions voir au travers du filet de brume matinal. Par la suite, il nous a été demandé de se rassembler dans le lounge où différents ateliers nous ont été proposés. J’ai opté pour l’observation de la faune. Quelques minutes plus tard, avec les autres qui avaient choisi cet atelier, nous sommes partis à l’avant du bateau. Après un certain temps, quelqu’un a crié: Polar bear! L’ours polaire en question était en train de nager et avec mes jumelles, je voyais une petite tête bouger. C’était irréel. Peu après, l’heure du diner est arrivé. Puis, nous sommes ressortis dehors en voyant plusieurs morceaux de glace de différentes tailles flotter. Et soudainement, au loin, sur un de ces mêmes morceaux de glace, un ours polaire! Mais ce n’était pas fini. Peu après, il nous est annoncé que de l’autre côté du Ocean Endeavour (notre bateau), se trouve une mère ours polaire et ses deux petits. Cette famille de trois était beaucoup plus proche que les deux autres aperçus plus tôt, j’ai donc profité de cette proximité pour pouvoir prendre des photos d’eux. À la fin de la journée, nous en avions un total de neuf, un miracle! Après avoir eu la chance d’en voir autant, d’autres ateliers nous ont été proposés et j’ai profité de l’opportunité de mettre mon blogue à jour. Après le souper, l’heure du dodo est arrivé. 

Marie Sophie Danckaert, Monaco, Monaco.

Après deux nuits difficiles, nous avons enfin pu profiter d’un sommeil reposant en arrivant à bord du bateau.

Nous avons déjà vu de nombreux animaux. Nous avons entamé la journée en observant des groupes de phoques avant d’apercevoir un morse. Quelques ours polaires aussi… Neuf dès le premier jour, dont une mère et ses deux petits! Je pense avoir déjà pris environ quatre cents photos, dont de nombreux d’icebergs qui forment parfois de véritables sculptures.

Les rencontres se multiplient et le cercle d’amis s’élargit. J’ai fait la connaissance de nombreux Québécois, mais j’ai également sympathisé avec un Inuk et quelques anglophones. C’est génial de discuter avec des Québécois, nous ne parlons pas le même français et nos conversations s’achèvent souvent sur des fous rires.

Na lingi, azali kitoko. Naq lingi yo mingi.

Meera Chopra – Richmond Hill, ON, Canada

The farthest north I’ve ever travelled before is Montreal. Yesterday, I travelled all the way to the capital of Nunavut: Iqaluit. The cold wind was refreshing and I was excited to visit such a beautiful territory. After our flight landed, the other expeditioners and I were loaded onto zodiacs, which brought us to the ship. The zodiac ride was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. I perched on the side of the small boat and clung on to the ropes beside me desperately. Then, the engine started and the boat sped away from the harbour. Waves tossed around the zodiac in the water and with the combination of speed, the ride seemed like a roller coaster. Wind whipped my hair and ocean water sprayed onto my glasses and I had the biggest smile on my face. Exhilaration was all I could feel. 

Today, I spent most of my free time on the deck of the ship taking photos of the beautiful Arctic scenery. Seeing the tall mountains partly covered by fog and hearing the sounds of water swishing around made me think about how small one human is compared to the whole world. There are seven billion more of us, but the actions that we take can gravely affect others around us.

Then, there was an announcement made that there was a polar bear sighting near the ship, so I rushed to the front of the deck to try to see it. I was standing at the front of the ship, staring desperately at a small iceberg in the distance. Squinting my eyes and craning my neck, I continued searching for an animal that I’ve never seen before. Suddenly, a small off-white bump appeared on the iceberg. Then, the majestic animal raised its head and I could finally see for myself what a beautiful creature it was. I had my small digital camera out, snapping photos left and right, to take home to brag to friends that I had seen a real live polar bear.  It was just my stroke of luck that my camera battery died. I had to go back inside the ship to my cabin and dug through my suitcase to find a spare battery. Fortunately, I was able to find it and replace the battery before the polar bear on the iceberg passed our ship.

I had a lot of “firsts” on this trip that I would have never dreamed of doing. I’m so excited to see more places and animals in the Arctic and learn more about wildlife, climate change, and the Inuit culture! Hopefully each day is as eventful and memorable as this one.

Mehta Ushpreet – Toronto, ON, Canada.

So far I’ve learned a huge lesson from Geoff: flexibility is key. After driving back and forth to the Museum of Nature, waiting in the bus for 3 hours and taking the chance of landing in Iqaluit (if not too foggy and, if it was, taking a complete U-turn backto Ottawa where we would have to stay at OttawaU) … our patience was truly tested. Lucky for us, our karma was working and we LANDED! Especially because it is the nature of our expedition that things will likely not go as planned.

I had an amazing flight as I had great conversations with three new people – one of them a local resident. Without a doubt, my curious personality bombarded him with questions about his family life, his experience in Ottawa (his favourite was the Museum of Nature) and his thoughts on the most prominent environmental changes in the Arctic. I also got to know that he really enjoys horror movies – which I witnessed on the plane. One of my most interesting… After a fun plane ride with drinks and sandwiches, we safely landed, even with unclear skies (thank you to our pilot!!).

Then it was time to soak in the Arctic air! The anticipation kept building as we waited to exit the plane. One step outside and it already felt like a different world. The smell of the cold crisp air pinched my skin and made my legs shiver. But how could I not stretch my arms and make the most of the first couple seconds in the Arctic air? After a short wait, the first group of students were sent away on a bus to head over to the zodiacs. The swift salt-water waves gently splashed water on our group as we tightly gripped each other. The ride lasted for approximately 15 minutes and we finally arrived to our ship. Although my three roommates were worried how four people are going to stay together for two weeks, I had an amazing and super comfortable sleep.

Today, we got to sleep in a little (8:30) because of the extremely long day. The day began with a delicious breakfast, followed by almost filling up my memory card as we witnessed 9 polar bears and breath-taking landscape, insightful conversations, and an interesting workshop of traditional drumming that I got to participate in!

Today was a more relaxing day and cannot wait to see what will happen tomorrow!

Erin Morin takes in a student highlight in the Hub. Photo (c) Martin Lipman #SOIArctic2016 #StudentsonIce #FloatingClassroom

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

Mohd Rofiq Hanifah – Marang, Malaysia.

Hey there! My morning starts well with a big scrumptious breakfast. Yep someone said I have a big appetite for a small body. Yeah I do,  every single one of my teachers knows I can’t wait until it’s lunch time to eat. Umm…let me recall what I did today. We had a workshop session in the morning and I didn’t really know where should I go so I just joined a songwriting workshop. Look I’m sorry I really want to insert names but I’m just so bad at remembering names. Our musicians are so damn cool and I know the basic of songwriting art.

Oh yeah, the most exciting part. Today we are staying on the ship. It’s pretty foggy now. But earlier I got the chance to see some polar bears, seals and even a fat lazy looking walrus. I stayed on the deck with other participants. It’s pretty chilly outside there but I swear it was such fun! I took a lot of pictures and my hands were getting numb outside there because I’m just too lazy to put the gloves on (not to worry Mom, I put my gloves on whenever my hands get red and it’s hard to move them haha)

The amazing part during the polar bear watching is that we got to see a seal killed by a polar bear and birds were eating the leftovers (I LOVE STAYING AT THE DECK). It’s something cool to watch a scene of the Arctic food chain. There were so much blood on the iceberg. A lot of people suggested to me to try eating country foods (seals for example).But nah..I’m not gonna eat that.

By the way, we had another workshop session after the polar bear watching and presentation session. Again, I’m blurred and I found a workshop group learning the Inuit’s drum performance so I joined them. I wasn’t expecting the drum would be heavy but my arms hurt a little bit and now I’m fine. It’s good to mingle with Tommy, Enootik and other Inuit participants that I’m still trying to memorize their names lol.

Some message for family and friends

Mom, Dad and my sister : I’m doing fine here please don’t worry too much. Just pray the best for me okay. I miss you guys.

Abang Farhan : I’LL SUCCEED YOUR CHALLENGE. Still tears-free today!!

Sir Zaini : Your girl is doing fine and happy.  And smiling. And I’m not cold. Just some sore throat. Hope you’re doing good too.

Patrick Perrigo – Staten Island, NY, USA

Hello world, family, and friends!  So much has happened over the past four day since I left New York City early Thursday morning, that I don’t even know where to begin. The other four students that I met at LaGuardia who traveled with me are very kind and intelligent people.  We all talked for a while, before I took a nap on the first plane flight.  We had to fill out a Canadian Immigration form and rechecked our bags with ease.  The view of Toronto from the window of the second plane flight was really cool to see, and I took a picture of it.  We landed down in Ottawa around 10:00AM, and we found the SOI staff member waiting for us.  We threw our luggage into a van, and drove to the University of Ottawa. 

When we got to the university, we were given a few items and had our picture taken.  Then we were given our keys to our room for the next two days.  After putting my luggage in my room, I went downstairs for a brief tour around Ottawa near the university.  I saw and listened to some of the history of important landmarks and sights in Ottawa.  Afterwards, we had lunch and we went to the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa by bus.  We had our first introduction to this year’s expedition, and meet the CEO of SOI.  We were informed that the original planned route had to be changed a little because of heavy ice formation blocking the entrance to some of the areas we were going to.  The Arctic is unpredictable, and it would not be an adventure without some mystery along the way.

We got a huge surprise visit from the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and he talked to us for a while about the huge significance and importance of the trip!  He was a member of the 2005 Arctic expedition and is now an alumnus of SOI.  I took a few pictures of him and one video of him as well.  Before he left, he took one 360 degree photo of the entire room with us.  Already, the expedition was off to a great start. We spent the rest of the day at the museum doing different activities, we had dinner there as well.  Before we went back to the university to go to bed, we had an debrief about what was planned for tomorrow.

The next day, July 22, we had breakfast and spent the next two and half hours meeting and learning the different staff members and their roles on this trip. It was very interesting to see all the different staff members that have so much to offer me and the other students from a large variety of different subjects.  After that and lunch, we went to Parliament Hill and took about an hour to walk around and learn about what makes it so special.  My group didn’t go inside the Parliament Building, but we learned a lot about the history of the building and Canada’s Parliament itself.  From there, we had two groups split up, one going to a different museum and the other going to a zipline park.

I was fortunate to go to the zipline park, and I had an awesome time.  I went on the hardest course they had, full of many obstacles and ziplines really high off the ground.  I did however get stuck twice on the ziplines, and had to pull myself to the next platform.  I also burned off a huge chunk of my skin under my left waist from the zipline.  In all, it was an adrenaline-rushing experience that I would gladly do again.  Back at the university we had dinner and had a two hour briefing that was discussing more about what to expect, and introducing more of the staff.  We had to send our luggage down to the lobby for them to be picked up by trucks to have them sent to our charter flights.  So we had to pack warm clothes and whatever else we needed for tomorrow’s early expected flight to our ship.

When I woke up, I went to the lobby and grab a snack while we wait to get on the bus.  We were supposed to get on the bus at 6:45AM.  However, we sat around for a whole two hours talking and playing some games.  The reason why is because of heavy fog in Iqaluit where our ship was.  They said the pilots needed 1,000 feet of visibility from the ground, but the fog reduced the visibility down to only 100 feet.  So we instead went to the Hilton Graden Hill right next to the airport we had to go to for breakfast there.  After a lovely breakfast, we all went back to the Museum of Nature, where we held many different activities and workshops.  I participated in an oceanography workshop, which involved learning a lot about the different ocean mammals, birds, plankton, and parasites that survive in the ocean.  We had some lunch and at around 3:00 PM we decide to try to land our planes in Iqaluit because there was a small window of time were the fog was going to weaken.  So we got on the buses, drove to the airport, and sat in a hot bus for almost three hours.  The problem was that I was originally suppose to be on a First Air Flight, but they moved me to Nolinor because of weight issues with the plane.  So I thought this was good because Nolinor was suppose to leave first.  However, the orignal Nolinor plane timed out, so we needed to get a plane from Montreal to pick up us.  We finally got in the at 7:00 PM, and landed in Iqaluit at around 11:00PM.  It was really cold there, because it was around 400F, with really strong winds and mist.  We took a bus ride from the airport to the shore were our zodiacs were.  The zodiac ride to the ship was at first scary because I thought I was going to fall into the water.  But after a few minutes, my confidence rose and all tension was lost.  It was really cold on the water, but it was really awesome.  We got on the really huge and fancy ship, and got our keys to go to our rooms.  Afterwards, we had a little celebration and debrief in The Hub, and went to bed at 1:00 AM.

Now we are here on the ship on July 24.  We are going to spend the whole day on the ship today, but there is a lot to do.  We had an buffet breakfast with some many different options to have at 9:00AM.  We had to do a mandatory evac and abandon ship drill at 10:30 AM.  We had to a short briefing and had some workshops open for 45 minutes.  I did a widlife observing workshop, and we went to the top of the ship with our binoclaurs and cameras.  We scan the ocean and spotted some birds, a few seals, and one polar bear swimming in the water.  After lunch, we had the free time to do whatever we wanted.  So I went out onto the ship deck to stare out into the ocean and mountains.  Then I heard on the PA System that we were approaching some polar bears on floating icebergs.  In short, we saw a total of nine polar bears, two of which were cubs.  We spotted some birds, a few seals, and one walrus.  The two cubs and the mother polar bear let us get really close to them, and was a perfect chance to get some really clear pictures of them.  There was one polar bear that captured a seal and was eating it on an iceberg.  We didn’t see the bear kill the seal, but we saw all of it’s blood and guts lying on the iceberg.  The polar bear swam away to a different ice berg, so we got really close to the dead seal to look at it.  It was an interesting perspective of what the Arctic foodchain looks like, because there were birds that were plucking away at the dead seal’s body.  We were out on the deck for a two hours before we had another briefing and more workshops.  Before we began the two hour workshops, we saw another huge bear just a few meters from the boat just relaxing on an iceberg.  It is unbelieveable that we were able to get so close to it. 

The workshop I did was about the old Inuit traditon of drum dancing.  The Inuit elder explained to us what drum dancing is, what it represents, its purpose, and we got the chance to actually try to drum dance.  It was very interesting and fun to do, and he said that we might make some for us later on.  Well that is it for now.  I have to go now, for dinner.  I know this blog was super long because I had to catch up on the last few days.  I promise I will try to blog everyday to keep the blogs short now since we have the computers.  I will share more infomation later.  Goodbye!

Rachel Theoret Gosselin – Eastern Arctic Specialist for WWF-Canada

What a start! This expedition is already filled with a yearlong worth of emotions and excitements. A great journey of weather, delays, changes, waiting, and surprises finally got us on the Ocean Endeavor, anchored in front of Iqaluit. I woke up with great enthusiasm looking for our first day cruising on the Arctic Ocean. As a wildlife biologist, I was secretly wishing to have the chance to see animals and arctic life. However, I was also trying to keep those expectations tied to the reality: the truly extraordinary value of the Nature, is its unpredictable character. Hence I could expect to see few forms of Arctic life over the almost two weeks on the ship, but who knows if I would have the chance to encounter the iconic species representing the Arctic. Who would have guessed that my first lunch was not even over when we heard the voice of our expedition leader announcing: a polar bear was spotted on the ice in front of the ship? Obviously, I rushed out and started to scan the ice platforms floating around us. And there it was, relatively far in the distance, the most iconic species of the Arctic! Off white against the white ice, the bear was sitting on his floating dinner table and feasting on a prey, seldom looking at us. Wildlife always moves me strongly, the warmth and excitement awaken by wildlife observation is magical and difficult to describe with words. 

I would have been entirely satisfied by this lucky sighting, coupled with several seals and birds. But it seems like life wanted to welcome us better to this expedition. Someone on my left said: “I think there are three of them”. What? I took my eyes off my binoculars and saw that the small group on my left were looking in a completely different direction than I was. Incredibly enough, a mother and her two cubs were floating on another block of ice. After minutes of observations and photography, I overheard Jolly, a hunter from Pangnirtung who has really keen observation skills from years of experience, saying that there was a swimming bear. I could continue describing every impression and story behind each bear sighting, but I think it still wouldn’t be enough to express the state of mind I am in after seeing NINE polar bears! Barely twelve hours on the ship and we are already privileged and got to spend couple hours on the deck and experiencing what every tourist visiting this part of the world is hoping for. 

Now, I am a real fan of walruses, it has been my favorite animal since I can remember. And guess what? By the end of our crossing through the ice blocks, the voice of Geoff resonated again through the speakers to announce a walrus lazing on an ice platform straight ahead! Yes, the big animal was passively laying on the ice, lifting its head from time to time to make sure we were not threatening, and laying back down just enjoying its icy cruise. I even get to have a good look at its teeth! 

 

This first day was particularly stamped with wildlife for me. I am looking forward for the whole array of experiences the Students on Ice expedition will provide me, but completely flabbergasted by my first day. 

Et oui, après à peine 12 heures sur le bateau, nous avons eu la chance de voir des ours polaires… oui oui, DES ours polaires!! Déjà une expérience incroyable et des émotions intenses d’avoir l’opportunité d’observer cet icone de l’Arctique; imaginez si à chaque quinze minutes, le microphone annonce une mère avec ses deux petits à bâbord, ensuite un autre ours qui nage à tribord, et encore à bâbord, un ours repu de son repas… Une superbe dose d’adrénaline qui est d’excellent augure pour le reste de l’expédition.  

Bisous à tous! 

Rachel  

Robert Adragna – Toronto, ON, Canada

Why settle for big, when you can go bigger? Usually, that holds 100% true.  Western culture professes that whatever we think, in whatever we hope to do, it is essential to think on the most grandiose scale possible. We are told by our elders to dream big, that the sky is the limit, that nothing short of the most massive possible hapinesss, or success, or love, is the ideal way to live life. We are sold on the supersize me complex – why buy a small for $1.50 when for an extra 30 cents, you can get double the product? It seems as though the secret to life ultimately lies in maximization. 

The glory of maximization was evidently on display this morning as our ship traversed the interior of Frobisher Bay. In the land of lush barreness, cold plethoras of floating ice and swelling waves, we experienced what some would call the “maximum” sight – not one, not two but SEVEN polar bears throughout the course of 5 kilometres. Over a 90 minute stretch we all recoiled with delight as our ship sailed past floe after floe, eagerly enthusing over one creature before rolling onwards to the next like the periodic swelling of the waves. This top Arctic species, charismatic ambassador of arguably the entire world’s environmental movement, was the most amazing sight to be seen during this morning’s voyage in the far north. 

Amidst the frantic polar bear frenzy, which occured towards the bow of the ship, I believe that I was one of the few individuals who ended up deciding to turn around. Turn around to perhaps the most sublimely glorious landscape I have witnessed in my life. Glistening through the overcast sky, the sun struck a large mountain range unevenly through a wisp of fog perhaps 200 feet above the ground. This created a brilliantly illuminated scene of shining mountains and rolling shadows – each contrasting shade merging together brilliantly along the rough topography. Underneath the mountains lay a sea shaded by the overcast light in an oddly shaped gradient of bright to soft, creating a metallic lustre of gray reflectivity. Fascinated, I leaned over the railing and glanced downwards. There was an iceberg brushing against the ship, which was not particularly remarkable given the never-ending ice channel through which we sailed. But it was not the visual element which made this berg so fascinating. As the sea rose and fell in its perpetual cycle of swell, a part of the iceberg routinely rose above the sea level and then fell back below it. Ever so softly, it was possible to hear a pattern of gentle streams of water caressing the berg as it lifted a part of the sea up and guided it back towards its origin. In the midst of the polar bear frenzy, all this was forgotten. 

It is often the subtle that is brilliant, and the majestic that is exaggerated. Of course it was unbelievable to witness a polar bear rest upon an ice floe, or swim through the water. But equally valuable are the elements of our existence that are not so easy to see at first glance. In the reflections of light upon sea or the sounds of water falling into ocean, I witnessed the transcendant power of the polar regions in a way that most effectively speaks to their underlying and subtle complexity. And it is the power of this complexity that allows the Arctic to wield natural beauty as a spell which captivates all those who experience it. If I merely wished to see polar bears sitting on ice floes, I would have visited the zoo and had exactly the same experience as one with this mentality in the Arctic. It is instead the vision of polar bear surrounded by soft swell-made waterfalls or interesting reflective light patterns which bring out the region’s sense of transcedence beyond the human experience.

Speaking of capturing incredible experiences, I’d like to give a big thanks to Downtown Camera in Toronto and Nikon Canada for this expedition’s sponsorships!!! You two have made it possible for me to capture the Arctic’s beauty on film and share it with the rest of the world. If any of you are looking for top quality camera equipment, give this store and company a good look!

Sahil Dwivedi – Amritsar, Punjab, India

The water was cold, the drop was high, and I was scared. Really Scared. As my legs started to retreat back to safety and cowardice, a loud noise of claps and shouts from beneath stopped them. I could not disappoint these inspiring people who were shouting for me. I had to do it. I looked down the drop, took a deep breath, smiled at the people who made me do it and jumped.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what Students on Ice can make a person do who had never been in open waters, couldn’t swim and of course, hadn’t done cliff jumping in his life.

My second day in Ottawa was mind-blowing; I could never predict that I would go rafting, cliff jumping, and body surfing in my very first activity with this mind blowing organization. Yes, I expected thrill, but so much and so soon? I pinched myself for the whole day and even thought of jumping off the terrace to feel if it was reality or a dream. Thank you for the advice Jen, I didn’t jump, and I lived to tell the tale.

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My day began in a bright sunny day of Ottawa and I smelled the fresh air of the city as our bus took us to the Ottawa river where we geared up for white water rafting. I had never done this before, and I was in no way ready for the things which were on the way.

“Easy Forward!” said the raft leader and we rafted our way to the rapids and enjoyed the transparent and cool smelling water of the Ottawa river splashing on us on a warm summer day of Ottawa (which was as cold as a winter day in India!). I admit, I splashed a lot of water on the other rafts, and so did others, but everything’s fair in love and war isn’t it?! And we were the fastest raft, we had to do it!

Now was the time for body surfing. It’s a cool way of pretending to be a drift wood and floating and swimming downstream with the current. The raft leader announced that only those who can swim should try it. But I believed in the life jacket which I was wearing. While others jumped out from one side, I jumped on the other — straight into the rapids.

This was probably my first time wearing such a cool-looking life jacket, and I had not tightened it as it was supposed to be. I thought I would float like wood, but I went down. Like a rock.

I waited to come up, but I did not. That’s when I went crazy and did all the swimming moves I knew. An angel grabbed my hand and pulled me up. “I’m fine. Wasn’t even drowning” was what I said, while I was gasping on the raft and feeling all of the water I had drunk. I was in safe hands. No joke, I was with Students on Ice, where safety is the last thing to be compromised.

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The next day we had our first orientation by the man of action, Mr. Geoff Green and he inspired every drop of blood flowing in us and turned it into adrenaline. I could have never imagined to have met the person whom I used to see in videos. And despite of all the great work he has done, he is so humble, gentle and always available to talk to and shape you as a person! And then, a tall charming gentleman enters the room and everybody has their mouths open and cameras out. Who is he? Welcome to the stage Mr. Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada!

You know that it’s not an everyday normal happening when the Prime Minister of the country enters the room and gives a send-off to an expedition. But this is Students on Ice, and miracles do happen all the time!

My room-mate is one of the best friends I ever got. Enootik, a student from the highest community in the Arctic is the other person in my room and he taught me how life is like in the Arctic. I was blown away when I knew that there existed kids of my age who could hunt, live in -50 Celsius for 24 hours of darkness and still feel happy! A big inspiration indeed.  Our conversations shaped the way I thought of Inuit culture and people. I feel invested with a love and respect for the great people who overcome so many challenges in their lives and live spreading happiness.

Everybody here says that I worked really hard for this and so I deserve to be here. But now, after looking back over all all I did, I don’t even feel it was enough to deserve such an overwhelming experience for a normal person like me. This experience blew me away and shaped me in so many ways I can’t imagine. What I did feels like nothing. When I was first applying to the program, if I knew what it would be like, I would have literally given off my arm so I could have this life-changing experience.

Samantha McBeth – Montreal, QC, Canada.

L’avion a atterri à Iqaluit, au Nunavut. On n’y croyait presque plus. Après une journée entière d’incertitudes, une météo qui n’offrait aucun compromis et Madame la Mairesse d’Iqaluit, elle-même présente avec nous à Ottawa, qui lamantait la pluie dans sa ville, nous étions à nos derniers brins d’espoir. Le voyage au-dessus des milles lacs solitaires au centre du Québec n’était qu’un avant-goût de ce Nord que nous attendions avec impatience.

La devise de Students on Ice ”Flexibilité, c’est la clé” ou en anglais ”Flexibility is the key.” L’équipe de Parcs Canada, dont je suis membre, avait déjà dû faire face à cette lesson. Nous ne visiterions plus le parc national d’Auyuittuq, la banquise étant encore trop épaisse dans le fjord menant au parc. Après plusieurs mois de préparation, c’est une surprise. La destination sera donc aussi nouveau pour nous que pour les autres étudiants de l’expédition: les Montagnes Torngats, au Labrador. Nous avions bien hâte, prêt à s’adapter au prochain changement. Mais pour cela, nous devons au moins nous y rendre. Une attente bien difficile!

Lorsque l’avion commença son atterrissage à travers les nuages, j’avoue avoir eu peur de revoir Ottawa au sol. Que le mauvais temps nous oblige à rebrousser chemin. Remerciant notre bonne étoile (polaire), c’est avec plaisir que je rédige du navire, le MV Ocean Endevour dans la baie de Frobisher. La nuit fût courte, mais reposante. Que Ottawa garde sa chaleur étouffante. Que l’aventure commence! Nous vous rapporterons une brise fraîche de mer, promis

 

Shari Gearheard – Geographer & Research Scientist

A Bitty Blog By-the-numbers: Entry One

I’ve never blogged before, so I decided to come up with a format that might help me ease into it… welcome to my bitty blog, by-the-numbers, and we’ll see how it goes 🙂

1 – Number of days we have been at sea.

1 – Number of days I have ever been at sea in my life. Check that for the bucket list!

10 – Number of minutes I spent at our first breakfast of the trip looking for the silverware. I couldn’t find the silverware because it was already on the beautifully set tables complete with white tablecloths and all the trimmings. This is no research vessel we sail on. A hottub, swimming pool, sauna, library, huge dining area. . . What? Velvety chairs and couches frame the dance floor (that doubles as a lecture stage), complete with disco ball (which I hope to implement during my lecture!). My cabin, that I share with a lovely ocean geologist that I’m looking forward to getting to know, has a couch and sitting area, desk, big closet, super comfy bed with cozy duvet and we have an in-room bathroom, bigger than the one I have at home (ok so I have a very small bathroom at home). The Ocean Enveavour is a beautiful ship, I feel so fortunate to be here, and this is not at all what I had in mind for our floating classroom, which in my mind I had modeled more on a worn out Russian icebreaker I had once been on that sported moldy carpeting and beyond-tired furniture. No, our ship is a Love Boat for arctic adventure.

9 – Number of polar bears we saw in an hour this afternoon. Sightings included a momma bear with two cubs and a huge majectic male, full from a seal meal sitting on his big rump, sniffing the air for clues about us as we passed by. He didn’t seem concerned with us at all and judging by all the floating chunks of ice around with splotches of red and sea birds snacking on the leftovers, hunting has been good for the bears and this guy was getting ready for a happy nap.

15 – Number of minutes I expect it will take me to figure out how to actually save and send this blog post, but this was fun! Hopefully I’ll get better at this. What a very special experience just in the last 24 hours. I can’t wait to see, hear, smell, taste and feel what is to come. Thank you SOI2016.

Shari Fox Gearheard

 

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