Itilleq: Heart of the Arctic Day 12

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

We crossed the Arctic Circle at 07:37 today!

Early in the day, we landed at Itilleq, a tiny community of 97 people, set in a hollow between two hillsides. Itilleq means hollow. The tiny colorful wooden homes are a complete switch from Canada’s Arctic communities, here arranged as compactly as the stony landscape will allow.

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Nuuk: Heart of the Arctic Day 10

Sunday, July 26, 2015

We docked in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, around dawn. We had successfully crossed the Davis Strait, formed 65 million years ago by a rift, thanks to a massive movement in the earth’s crust.

Our landform today was a peninsula, which is what the word “Nuuk” means, or some would say that the word means “the headland.” It’s actually a peninsula on a peninsula, at the mouth of a complex fjord system. Dominant rocks here include gneiss, schist, and basalt.

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Sea Ice Along Cumberland Sound: Heart of the Arctic Day 8

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Canadian Coast Guard has given us a strong warning to not enter Cumberland Sound due to the 9-10/10 ice. This sea ice is 9 to 10 years old, with sporadic glaciers that are much older. So we sadly didn’t make it into Pangnirtung.

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Lower Savage Island: Heart of the Arctic Day 7

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Leaving Kimmerut, we headed for Baffin Bay, anchoring at Lower Savage Island just at the end of Frobisher Bay. We spent a couple hours on the zodiacs, not able to set foot on the island due to the possibility of polar bears and walrus. We were hoping to see walrus from the ship as we circumnavigated the island, and polar bear while going through the interior channels on the zodiacs.

However, luck wasn’t with us, and the only wildlife we saw were birds through a heavy fog. The interesting rock formations, sea ice, icebergs, birds, and cold Arctic air made up for it.

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Kimmirut: Heart of the Arctic Day 6

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Kimmirut is a community of about 500 people, with the buildings clinging precipitously to the sloping landscape. The day was surprisingly warm, with a high of 14 C and sunny skies. Children were lining the shore to greet us, and their inquisitive brightness was the highlight of the day. We were the one and only passenger ship into the village this year, and almost every villager came out to spend the afternoon with us. Some of the stories the children told me were rather tough, and it clearly isn’t easy making a life here.

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Cape Dorset: Heart of the Arctic Day 5

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Today we explored the Nunavut community of Cape Dorset, also known as Kinngait.  Cape Dorset is a meta-incognito micro continent, which simplistically means that there are a lot of different rocks, but mainly glacially-sculpted granite. It is a crag and tail shape landform that the locals think looks like a polar bear lying down.

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Digges Island: Heart of the Arctic
Day 4

Monday, July 20, 2015

This is the first time we’ve been north enough for sea ice, which reinforces the fact that we are on an expedition, not a cruise. We traveled through 1-3/10 sea ice for 45 nautical miles, starting around midnight with high seas. This means that this particular ice is 1-3 years old. It provides a great opportunity for viewing wildlife, and we all spent much more time outside on deck than during the last three days.

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Kangiqsujuaq: Heart of the Arctic
Day 3

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Overnight, we entered Hudson’s Straight, where an immense amount of water comes from the Atlantic Ocean, creating massive tides and whirlpools of mythic proportions. With an early wakeup call, we headed to Kangiqsujuaq, a small community of 720 Inuit, a few of whom joined us on the ship for breakfast.

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Aktopak: Heart of the Arctic Day 2

Saturday, July 18, 2015

In the Arctic, summer sunrise comes more or less immediately after sunset, but thanks to the ship’s portholes and calm waters, we slept through. At 6:45 a.m., a happy voice over the sound system awoke us earlier than expected, calling out four polar bears on the beach of Aktopak Island, just starboard of where we had anchored. Sleepy passengers gathered on the 8th deck, talking in hushed excitement.

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