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The Northwest Passage: From Greenland to Bering Sea August 21 - September 13, 2017
Monday, August 21, 2017
Guests on the Northwest Passage arrived in Montreal today. After settling in, this evening we met our fellow travellers at the welcome reception and dinner at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
After a relaxing morning guests set out on a choice of several Montreal tours to celebrate the city’s 375th anniversary. The Old Montreal walking tour was an excellent opportunity to discover the city’s historic architecture and urban core. Fellow walkers enjoyed a guided walking tour of the Underground City as well as the premier entertainment area along Sainte-Catherine Street. Other guests chose between driving tours which took them to landmarks such as Jean-Talon Market, the summit of Mount Royal and a guided visit of Notre Dame Basillica.
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
It was an early departure this morning to catch the charter to start our adventure. We arrived in the early afternoon in Kangerlussuaq located on the west coast of Greenland. Kangerlussuaq is a small community which was formerly a major American military base from 1941 to 1992. We enjoyed our ride from the airport to the “Rowing Club” where we were served authentic Greenland fare and then set out to the harbor to board ‘Le Boreal.’ When we arrived at the ship, we were welcomed with a glass of champagne and a warm greeting by the captain and crew. We were escorted to our cabins and settled in for the evening as ‘Le Boreal’ left Kangerlussuaq for the cruise through the Northwest Passage.
Thursday, August 24, 2017
As we headed toward Evighedsfjord or Eternity Fjord, we enjoyed a special evening display of a brilliant Aurora Borealis. Following a post-breakfast introduction and briefing by Cruise Director Suzana Machado D’oliveira and Expedition Leader Aaron Russ, we headed for our first zodiac tours to view the Eternity Fjord’s spectacular tidewater glaciers from the Maniitsoq ice sheet. Some of the cliffs in this region exceed 2,000 metres (6,600 feet) in height and add to the dramatic background of the zodiac tour. In the afternoon we explored scenic Evighedsfjord with a landing and hike on the tundra, surrounded by some of the highest mountains in Western Greenland. In the evening, it was time to enjoy Captain Erwin Le Rouzic’s welcome aboard cocktail party and dinner, a great ending to the first sailing day of our expedition.
Friday, August 25, 2017
Early in the morning ‘Le Boreal’ entered Kangerluarsuk Tuuluq Fjord near Sisimiut Greenland. The ship cruised through the Tulluq Fjord which is 69 miles long and averages 740 metres in width. A suitable spot to land was scouted and by mid-morning most of the adventurers were hiking on the terrain along this beautiful fjord. Upon returning to the ship, ‘Le Boreal’ headed out of Kangerluarsuk Tulleq Fjord bound for Nuuk , the capital of Greenland, to take on provisions and visit this historic city; one of the smallest Capitals in the world . In the mid-afternoon, we enjoyed the first of the lecture series where Richard Harker presented an excellent introduction to how to approach photography in the Northwest Passage. Richard was followed later in the afternoon by Ralph Eshelman, who provided an intriguing lecture on the globe’s geology and what it means for the future. The day’s programming ended with a briefing in the theatre where Patricia Silva introduced us to the ornithology of Greenland with a special backgrounder on the Gyr Falcon followed by Mike Beedell’s very informative talk about the fauna and flora of the tundra walk. His photographs capture the subtlety of the Greenland ecology.
Saturday, August 26, 2017
We awoke to a heavy fog in Nuuk, Greenland’s capital which was founded by missionary Hans Egede in 1728 to establish the return of the Danish people to Greenland after several hundred years. Coaches were ready to take us to the Nuuk Cultural Centre where a local guide offered walking tours of Kolonial Harbour, the urban core of this historic community. Also on offer was a visit to the Nuuk museum where we were warmly greeted by staff and introduced to an exceptional ethnographical collection and displays covering the 4500 year history of Greenland. Besides the fine ethnographic material from Ammassilik and Thule cultures, a highlight was the superb collection of Inuit transportation items housed in their own building. Many guests also took time to visit Nuuk’s arts and crafts shops . Once back aboard, ‘Le Boreal’ headed out on a clear day with brisk winds, heading north along the coast to our next port of call at the World Heritage Site at Ilulissat, Greenland. Lectures from marine biologist Sean Todd on “Whales of the North Atlantic” and Historian Greg Thomas, “Setting the stage: The Arctic as a Window on the World” provided further insight into the extraordinary marine life of the Atlantic Ocean as well as the history of Greenland. In the early evening, Ralph Eshelman provided an extraordinary precap of what to expect when we witness the Jakobshavn Glacier, followed by JD Massyn’s unusual introduction to some Inuit recipes and delicacies.
Sunday, August 27, 2017
It was a beautiful brisk morning as ‘Le Boreal’ approached Illulisat , situated at the mouth of the Ilulissat Ice Fjord in Western Greenland. Besides panoramic views of the landscape and bird life, the lecture series continued apace. This morning a large crowd joined Patricia Silva for her lecture, “Seabirds of the Arctic” which was then complemented beautifully by Mike Beedell’s distinctive perspective captured in his talk, “The Art of Seeing-a Photographic Perspective.” Certainly a highlight of Mike’s presentation were his photos and description of a mother polar bear and her cubs emerging from their den near Churchill Manitoba in Canada. With those inspiring talks behind us, it was time to board the zodiacs in the early afternoon for a close up view of the Illulissat Icefjord where enormous icebergs from the most productive glacier in the northern hemisphere, called Sermeq Kujalleq, are packed together. The Zodiac expedition, which included some whale sightings, was complemented by a landing in the Illulissat community to pursue guided walks of the protected World Heritage Site area. This experience allowed us to view the glacier from the land at elevated heights and gain an appreciation of the scale and beauty. As we walked toward the views of the Illulissat Icefjord, the guide introduced us to the remains of the traditional Inuit village of Sermermiut which was occupied until the 1850s. A visit to a World Heritage Site of this importance combined the natural and cultural experience one would expect from such an extraordinary place. Complements to the community of Illulissat for welcoming the tourists so warmly and informatively. Even the sled dogs congregated at the edge of town expressed their welcome as we passed by en route to the World Heritage Site.
Monday, August 28, 2017
Today was a sailing day as ‘Le Boreal’ left Greenland for the day and a half crossing of Davis Strait to Pond Inlet in Nunavut Canada. One can only imagine the whaling ships heading across in the 1800’s in search of the Bowhead Whales. There was lots of activity on board. Margaret Bertulli introduced us to the Canadian Arctic’s archaeological past in a morning enrichment lecture. It is always informative to learn from a passionate professional with 25 years of experience doing archaeology in such a challenging environment. Then it was time for the aspiring musicians to have their first harmonica lesson from impresario Mike Stevens. Mike is a musician who instantly inspires you to get out on your balcony and practise your instrument. In the afternoon wildlife biologist Brent Houston shared his knowledge and fabulous photos of polar bears. While there was a brisk breeze, some adventurers joined the naturalists on deck who pointed out some of the unique Arctic features you may see in the Baffin Island region. And before dinner, Lecturer Greg Thomas presented his talk on “The Search for the Northwest Passage.” That evening we gathered in the theatre for the expedition recap and the captain provided an overview of the ice conditions and the ship’s preparations as we enter the heart of the Northwest Passage.
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
As we awoke this morning with moderate seas, the shores of Canada’s Baffin Island greeted us to Canada’s Arctic. To warm us up for the Canadian experience, explorer and adventurer Mike Beedell carried on the lecture series with his talk on “In the Footsteps of Legends.” Mike was part of a team that recreated an historic dog sled journey from Baffin Island to the northeast tip of Greenland. Covering 1,250 miles of rugged terrain, Mike’s account captures the skills of both the travelling group and their teams of dogs as well as the extraordinary environment as they travelled across the ice of Lancaster Sound, along Ellesmere Island and then across over to Greenland. By noon, ‘Le Boreal’ anchored in Pond Inlet, an Inuit community located on the northeastern shore of Baffin Island, across from Bylot Island, Canada. It is known to the Inuit as Mittimatalik, the place where Mittima is buried. After taking the zodiacs ashore, we were greeted by our Inuit hosts and walked through the community to the cultural centre. We were treated to a display of traditional games performed at the Arctic Winter games as well as traditional Inuit dancing and singing. Upon our return to the ship, ‘Le Boreal’ headed westward toward Lancaster Sound and our next destination, Devon Island. A special feature that evening was a DVD presentation “A Walk in my Dream,” featuring the work done with children in Indigenous communities by harmonica player Mike Stevens. It was a powerful message and insight into the social issues facing most Arctic communities, particularly their young people..
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
When we awoke this morning, ‘Le Boreal’ was making its way along the northern shores of Lancaster Sound, an area of the Arctic that the Inuit and their ancestors have relied on for thousands of years for its abundant natural resources for food, clothing and shelter. Today, residents of the three Nunavut communities of Pond Inlet, Arctic Bay and Resolute Bay continue this tradition, depending on its waters for their cultural and economic wellbeing. We arrived at Devon Island in Baffin Bay which is claimed to be the largest uninhabited island on earth. The island boasts great coastal scenery and a massive icecap that feeds spectacular scenery. We had an early start under warm skies to visit the Dundas Harbour located on the southeast coast of Devon Island. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police had established a post here in August 1924 as part of a Canadian initiative intended to regulate the whaling activity and provide a Canadian presence. The walk to the remaining buildings of the outpost of Dundas Harbour provoked images of this lonely outpost, particularly the small Royal Canadian Mounted Police cemetery containing three graves perched above the abandoned site and harbour. By noon ‘Le Boreal’ headed out toward Devon Island’s Croker Bay and, as we entered the bay, the siting of a polar bear crossing the water was a spectacular experience. After anchoring adjacent to two beautiful blue-ice tidewater glaciers, it was time for a zodiac ride accompanied by black-legged kittiwakes on patrol, hoping for a calving in the ice to bring plankton to the surface. We were not be disappointed, because there was some calving action from the glacier, as well as the viewing of both Harp Seals and Bearded Seals. It was a perfect way to end a spectacular day of expedition cruising in Canada’s High Arctic.
Thursday, August 31, 2017
We awoke to a gentle snowfall in the harbor adjacent to Beechey Island; a small island renowned for being where Sir John Franklin’s ships and expedition spent the winter of 1845-46, and during the subsequent search for Franklin the key supply depot and rendezvous. The first European to visit this island was Lieutenant William Parry with HMS Hecla in 1819. Parry named the island afer Frederick William Beechey, his fellow officer, who had distinguished himself the previous year serving under Franklin on an abortive North Pole Expedition. Although the winds were brisk, we headed ashore for our tour of this national historic site. The first stop was the grave site of 3 of Franklin’s crew who died during the winter of 1846 as well as another individual who had passed away on the HMS Investigator. With the fresh snow and stiff northern wind, it was a sombre visit and a reminder of the conditions these Polar Explorers were dealing with, even in late August. Then it was time to head along the shore toward the remains of Northumberland House, built on the raised beach in 1852-53 by Commander WJS Pullen, North Star, of the Belcher Expedition. Stone walls, partial wooden structures, barrel staves and a lonely spar from the Yacht Mary mark the site. The Franklin Memorial, a cenotaph, is well maintained, although time has taken its toll and polar bear claw marks form deep grooves in the hard wood. When we returned to the ship, it was a timely opportunity to attend Archaeologist Margaret Bertulli’s excellent lecture about the “Sir John Franklin Expedition.” Then as we headed toward Prince Leopold Island, site of an impressive Migratory Bird Sanctuary, we were greeted by a polar bear hunting along the shoreline below the vertical and limestone cliffs. These impressive cliffs were a perfect introduction to the final lecture of the day presented by geologist Ralph Eshelman entitled “Northwest Passage Geo Wonders.” Who knew that the Northwest Passage and its surrounding landscape could contain such amazing geological treasures! To complete our day, Patricia Silva enlightened us with a fascinating presentation on the “Migration of Birds” confirming once again the amazing habitat we are passing through.
Friday, September 1, 2017
Expedition Leader Aaron had warned us at the previous evening briefing that it would be an early start this morning. We were greeted by clear skies and a gentle breeze as we boarded the zodiacs at 7:30 AM to visit Fort Ross, an uninhabited former trading post located at the south-eastern tip of Somerset Island adjacent to the eastern entrance of the Bellot Strait. Established in 1937, Fort Ross was the last trading post to be established by the Hudson’s Bay Company for the fox-pelt trade. It was operational for only 11 years before severe ice conditions rendered it uneconomical and it was closed. As we toured the site and walked the surrounding landscape, the sense of history was conveyed by the buildings and the artifacts strewn about the terrain. The former HBC Store is still used by Inuit hunters from Taloyoak. Back on ‘Le Boreal,’ it was time to sail through the Bellot Strait which connects Prince Regent Inlet with Peel Sound and Franklin Strait. Now we were truly ensconced in the area of pack ice that has always proved challenging to ships navigating through this area. In fact, it was not until 1937 that Bellot Strait was navigated by the HBC Schooner Aklavik. Pack ice can often signal the presence of wildlife and we were not to be disappointed. We passed Narwals resting on the pack ice and by mid-afternoon we were the first cruise ship this year to anchor in Franklin Strait’s Cunningham Bay. It was time for a zodiac tour of this area, and wildlife viewing quickly captivated us as we entered the bay. Several polar bears were seen patrolling along the coast as well as beluga whales cruising along the waterway and not shy about putting on a display alongside the zodiacs. Although it was a chilly ride, it was another unforgettable experience as we travel through the heart of the Northwest Passage.
Saturday, September 2, 2017
As we entered Larsen Sound, one of the most treacherous waterways in the region, the captain of ‘Le Boreal’ announced that we would be joined By the Canadian Coastguard icebreaker Des Groseilleurs to escort us through the pack ice. It was a unique experience to follow the icebreaker through waters where the vessels of the doomed Franklin expedition had finally been captured by the ice. After successfully following the Des Groseilleurs through the ice, for a distance of 50 nautical miles, ‘Le Boreal’ was free to proceed on its own. The senior officers of the Canadian vessel joined us for lunch and briefed everyone in the theatre about their operations transiting back and forth through the Northwest Passage. We were also treated to our second harmonica lesson from Mike Stevens before taking in excellent enrichment lectures by Mike Beedell and Margaret Bertulli. As a young adult, Mike spent several summers traversing the Northwest Passage on a Hobie Cat with one companion; an extraordinary achievement full of adventure, danger and self-discovery. Margaret later took us through an intriguing series of northern experiences from her career as a Canadian Arctic archaeologist. After entering James Ross Strait which runs between King William Island and the Boothia Peninsula, it was full steam ahead for Gjoa Haven. As always the expedition recap was lively with presentations by Brent Houston followed by Marine Biologist Sean Todd who enlightened us about the behavior of Beluga Whales.
Sunday, September 3, 2017
Today ‘Le Boreal’ arrived at the Nunavut community of Gjoa Haven, nestled on the southeast coast of King William Island on the Northwest Passage. Gjoa Haven was named by early 20th Century Polar explorer Roald Amundsen after his ship Gjoa. To local residents, the community is called Uqsuaqtuuq “the place of plenty of fat” in reference to the fattened fish in the nearby waters. We were met at the shore of the community by members of the Inuit community who graciously welcomed us before guides took us on a tour of the community. It was readily apparent that the residents, members of the Netsilik Inuit Community, were very proud of their heritage and their community’s association with Roald Amundsen’s role in the first successful transit of the Northwest Passage between 1903-05. After a walking tour, we were welcomed to the Heritage Centre and then in the late morning, a cultural presentation and meal hosted in the community centre. The display of drum dancing, throat singing and square dancing reinforced the ongoing strength and development of the Canadian Inuit culture. Another highlight was the availability for viewing and purchase of the local carvings which demonstrated the extraordinary skill of the carvers. Upon returning to the ship at noon, it was time to head along Simpson Strait, named for Thomas Simpson who was on an expedition together with Peter Warren Dease by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1836 to complete the survey of the northern shores of the North American continent. Of course, this area was also traversed by Roald Amundesen in 1904 during his successful transit of the Northwest Passage. By early afternoon the enrichment lecture series was in full swing with lectures by fellow passenger Alex Bulazel of Mystic Seaport entitled “Bring Me the Fair Horizon.” Later in the afternoon, marine biologist Sean Todd continued his series on marine life entitled “Pinnipeds of the North.”
Monday, September 4, 2017
Today ‘Le Boreal’ continued to cruise through Queen Maud Gulf and the challenging Victoria Strait towards its destination in the Bathurst Inlet. Both Queen Maud Gulf and Coronation Gulf are shallow basins averaging less than one hundred metres in depth. Bearded seals, ringed seals and polar bears are the marine mammal species known to frequent these waters. As we passed along the southeast coast of King William Island, we were just to the south of the waters where Franklin’s ships, ‘Erebus’ and ‘Terror’ from his 1845-47 expedition were discovered under water in 2014 and 2016 respectively by Parks Canada. The morning and early afternoon passed pleasantly as we enjoyed three enrichment lectures. Patricia Silva continued to enhance our knowledge of Arctic Ornithology with her talk, “The Pleasure of Birding,” followed by Archaeologist Margaret Bertulli’s insightful lecture on “Inuit Cultures of the Recent Past.” Just before the afternoon expedition took place, Greg Thomas presented “The History of Inuit Settlement in Nunavut.” By mid-afternoon, the captain dropped anchor well into Bathurst Inlet and we headed ashore for what proved to be an exceptional hike. Many people chose to walk up a high point of land where they gazed down upon the Hood River; one of a number of tributaries that run from the south into Bathurst Inlet. A grizzly bear family had clearly been in the vicinity and some hikers caught sight of a solitary grizzly making its way across the landscape. It was a beautiful, warm afternoon in the Arctic. To complete the day, many guests attended a dance performance, “Continents,” performed by ‘Le Boreal’s’ Paris c’ Show Dancers
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
This morning, we arrived at a former site of a community near the mouth of the Nakyoktok River on the southern coast of Victoria Island. The abandoned airstrip, deserted Distance Early Warning station and unoccupied buildings were a clear reminder that we had arrived in an uninhabited area. Although, frequented seasonally by Inuit hunters. It is a prime habitat for birds of the high Arctic. Guests had a choice of a zodiac tour along the mouth of the Nayoktok River or a wet landing for a morning hike. Although there was a strong wind, the hike along a rocky outcrop towards an outlook high above the river proved very worthwhile as people passed archaeological sites, late season lichens and blueberries as well as curious Arctic hares.
Upon returning to ‘Le Boreal,’ there were a variety of programs on offer. An enthusiastic group joined Patricia Silva and Jen Clement to learn more about the art of needle felting. Geologist, Ralph Eshelman, continued to bring Arctic geology to life with his Enrichment lecture covering “Pingos, Permafrost and Patterned Ground: Arctic Landforms.” In the late afternoon, Mike Beedell’s lecture “Wild Rivers Run Through Me,” took his audience on adventure canoe trips down the Coppermine and Nahanni Rivers. What better way to learn about the two Arctic rivers that flow adjacent to the Northwest Passage. As we headed further along the coast of Victoria Island, we now entered Canada’s North West Territory. To encapsulate the day’s experience, it was time for another Expedition Recap starring Brent Houston with his “Tracks and Scat” presentation followed by Ralph Eshelman revisiting the geology of our morning in Nakyoktok River. As the sun set, ‘Le Boreal’ was pressing ahead toward Ulukhaktok or Holman Village, located on the west coast of Victoria Island at the entrance to Prince Albert Sound.
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
This morning ‘Le Boreal’ arrived in Ulukhaktok or Holman, a small hamlet on the west coast of Victoria Island, in the Inuvik region of the Northwest Territories. The large bluff overlooking the hamlet is the source of the slate and copper used to make the knives known as ulus, unique to the High Arctic and giving the community its name. Ulukhaktok is also famous for its Art Co-operative, established to provide income to the residents of the community by producing arts and crafts. It is internationally renowned for the production of prints.
When we arrived on shore at Queen’s Bay, we were greeted by community members and treated to some traditional foods prepared by our hosts and enjoyed a demonstration of fish filleting with the traditional Ulu knife. Local guides then took us for a walk, followed by a visit to the community hall where local artists offered the art of print making, carving and other local crafts. Our visit was completed by a presentation of some traditional dancing and singing at the Simon Kataoyak Hall. Some adventurers also took advantage of a visit to the northern most golf course in the Americas! Back on the ‘Le Boreal,’ the enrichment lecturers continued apace with presentations by marine biologist Sean Todd and Richard Harker as well as a fun harmonica lesson from Mike Stevens. Then, as we journeyed along Victoria Island in the late afternoon, it was another zodiac adventure to the shores of Victoria Island. After a short walk, we had a magnificent viewing opportunity of several Musk Oxen grazing along a bluff. It was a great ending to a stimulating day on ‘Le Boreal’ as we travel along the Northwest Passage.
Thursday, September 7 , 2017
This morning ‘Le Boreal’ approached Banks Island which is the fourth largest island in the Canadian Archipelago and situated within Canada’s Northwest Territory. While Inuit culture has been present on Banks Island for 3,500 years, today, the island is the traditional hunting grounds for the Inuvialuit people. Banks Island drew the attention of the western world when Roald Amundsen reached Nelson Head, thereby completing the first European transit of the Northwest Passage.
The expedition leaders scouted a landing site in the vicinity of De Salis Bay which is a northern arm of the Amundsen Gulf. It was named for the De Salis family by Francis Leopold McClintock during his search for the missing Franklin Expedition. Upon landing on a windy inlet, we proceeded in-land and quickly discovered evidence of wildlife. It is not surprising that Banks Island is the home of the largest Muskoxen population in the world with estimates of 55 to 60 thousand animals living throughout the island.
Upon returning to ‘Le Boreal,’ the sea breezes picked up as we headed toward the Amundsen Gulf. Guests were enriched by Patricia Silva’s lecture, “Birds and People” followed later in the afternoon by Greg Thomas speaking about Parks Canada in the Arctic. At the evening recap, musician Mike Stevens provided us with a sneak preview of a dramatic video of Labrador’s Torngat Mountain National Park and the ever-surprising Mike Beedell led us in song. Then it was time for some amazing music by harmonica player Mike Stevens who was joined in concert by some talented Expedition colleagues led by Richard ‘Black Jack.’
Friday, September 8, 2017
Early this morning ‘Le Boreal’ entered Franklin Bay, a large inlet in the Amundsen Gulf situated along the coast of Canada’s Northwest Territories. Before long, we witnessed one of the Arctic’s natural wonders known as the Smoking Hills, named by John Franklin during his 1826 exploration expedition. Geologist Ralph Edelman provided a lucid description of this geological phenomenon as we sailed by. Unfortunately, due to the weather, a zodiac tour was not possible. Ralph explained that the smoke is a result of fires that are caused by the auto-ignition of Mesozoic (dinosaur) age mudstones that contain pyrite (fool’s gold) and Sulphur-rich lignite-bituminous deposits. While the resulting clouds of smoke create an impressive site, the sulfur from the smoke has acidified shallow ponds in the surrounding tundra.
As ‘Le Boreal’ headed along Amundsen Gulf, the naturalists were back at the bridge scouting for sea life. They were successful as they spotted a Bowhead Whale by mid-afternoon, and by early evening twenty more were sited. If not out on deck, one could take in Ralph Eshelman’s lecture entitled “Norwegian Land Grab or Canadian Complacency,” followed later by Richard Harker’s presentation named “In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams.” Another creative pastime was offered by Patricia and Jen who continued their series on the art of needle felting. To complete the activity, the Expedition Recap had a surprise performance by impresario Mike Beedell, adorned in his cow costume. What an introduction to Herschel Island!
Saturday, September 9, 2017
It was a rainy morning as ‘Le Boreal’ anchored off Quikiqtaruk (meaning island) or Herschel Island located in the northwest quadrant of Mackenzie Bay located off the coast of Canada’s Yukon Territory. Now a Yukon Territorial Park, Quikiqtaruk, has always been a gathering place. Inuvialuit have used the site for thousands of years and remnants of old dwellings are still visible. In the late 1800s, American whalers established a winter station at Pauline cove where ships were protected from storms and ice. Since then, the Anglican Church, the Hudson’s Bay Company, the Royal Canadian Corp of Signals and the RCMP were all present on Herschel Island. Our expedition to Herschel Island began on board with an orientation to the Park from its Inuvialuit rangers. Then it was into the zodiacs for a tour of the heritage park. Besides the excellent displays in the Community Hall and the Bone House, the adventurers walked the shoreline and the landscape to gain a feel for its natural and cultural history. A highlight was a chance to view and photograph a large Muskoxen grazing beside one of the buildings. It reinforced the earlier opportunity to witness these Arctic animals on Victoria Island.
Back on ‘Le Boreal,’ we made our way toward Point Barrow, our first port of call in the USA. Highlights of the afternoon included Brent Houston’s illuminating lecture on Arctic sea ice as wildlife habitat followed by, musician Mike Stevens engaging the audience in a discussion of his work and organization’s initiatives in Indigenous communities. It was an inspiring exchange. The day was completed by a classical musical recital with Roman Basiuk. .
September 11, 2017
Today, ‘Le Boreal’ cruised into the Chukchi Sea toward the Bering Strait. The Bering Sea is named for Vitus Bering, a Danish navigator in Russian service, who in 1741 was the first European to systematically explore this maritime area. He sailed northward from the Pacific Ocean and continued north to the Arctic Ocean. This is a rich area for seabirds and whales, including the rare North Pacific Right Whale. Unfortunately, it was a quiet day on the whale viewing front.
As we sailed all day toward Little Diomede Island, lectures, exercises, harmonica lessons and needle felting were the order of the day. Once again, our marine biologist enlightened his audience with his talk on “Oceanography, Productivity and Climate Change.” The Northwest Passage is a perfect case study in the challenges facing us in conserving the Arctic from the dramatic ecological pressures facing our oceans. Equally entertaining was geologist Ralph Eshelman’s talk with the entertaining title, “Creepy Creatures and Sea Monsters: Fact and Fiction.”
Mike Stevens held his last harmonica lesson and his ability to connect with his audience has borne fruit. The class is going to perform an original melody at the final recap. In the evening, the whole ship community gathered for Captain Erwan Le Rouzic’s farewell cocktail party followed by the captain’s Farewell Dinner.
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