December 13th, 2010 | By Jason Hillier | Filed in Current Events, IN THE NEWS
The editors at National Geographic voted this purple little octopus one of the ‘Ten Weirdest New Animals’ of 2010. It’s one of 11 potential new species discovered off Canada’s Atlantic coast by researchers doing deep-sea exploration. You can check out the researcher’s blog here, and view more great photos of recent deep sea discoveries from the same area on National Geographic’s website.
I personally find this cute octopus way less weird than some of their other choices, which include a very odd looking bat and a shudder-worthy three-inch long leech.
December 12th, 2010 | By Jason Hillier | Filed in AK NEWS, AK PRODUCTS & SERVICES, Upcoming Trip
Don’t forget to register to participate in our free upcoming webinar on December 15, Thomas will be discussing our Bowhead Whales, Walrus and Polar Bears of the Foxe Basin adventure.
This trip is incredible! You’ll see the largest whales of the Arctic Ocean in their natural habitat, breaching, finning – from within a distance of mere meters. Also, herds of walrus, the chance to experience Inuit history and culture, all under the guidance of our knowledgeable and experienced team. Ask your questions during the webinar, or email them ahead of time to thomasarctickingdomcom. We look forward to talking to you!
December 11th, 2010 | By Jason Hillier | Filed in Current Events, IN THE NEWS
The Guardian UK posted this great first-person article from writer Nick Mead on his experience participating in the 2010 Polar Circle Marathon –
My race plan was to try to keep up with the leaders on the steep climb to the ice cap and over the ice, gambling that I could recover on the downhill section, and see what happened after that. This worked well enough until we came to run down a slope of solid ice, my feet disappeared from under me and my teeth jarred together as my left thigh connected with the ice. I could do nothing to stop myself sliding another 30 ft downhill and off course. Adrenaline helped me pick myself up and gingerly make my way back to the marked path and off the ice cap – but I had a feeling I would pay for it later.
The sweeping views of the jagged blue-grey cliff of the Russell glacier went on for miles, and as the track crossed a stretch of Arctic desert, the ice crystals glistened in the low sun like millions of diamonds. The temperature can reach 40C here in the summer, with -57C the lowest recorded in winter, and it’s one of the driest places on Earth, so I was grateful for the frequent water stations (although I wish I hadn’t decided not to carry my own water supply in a fit of 5am race-plan tinkering on the day of the run).
For many visitors, a trip to the arctic is primarily to view wildlife, experience Inuit culture, or participate in ice diving. You know, experience the grandeur of the area at a slightly different pace. Mead’s article is a reminder that marathons are a goal unto themselves for folks passionate about the sport.
The race attracted runners from around the world, with 18 countries represented this year. Many had run extreme and exotic marathons, like the retired South African lecturer who had already knocked off seven marathons in seven continents, and is now well on the way to completing his next goal of running 26 marathons in 26 countries. Others were tackling their first 26.2-mile race. Oxfordshire businessmen Tony Jones and Simon Biltcliffe were having a change from their usual sports of mountaineering and cycling, as part of their plan to do “one stupid thing a year”.
When I crossed the finish line after 3 hours and 31 minutes it had warmed up to a balmy -6C and I found myself in a creditable 6th place.
Personally, you don’t catch me running very often. Not even through breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. A nice ride on our Airboat to view some Polar Bears is more my style. Although, if I was going to take up a new sport, perhaps the half marathon would be a good place to start.
December 10th, 2010 | By Jason Hillier | Filed in AK PRODUCTS & SERVICES, Gear
Once more ’tis the season of stalking crowded streets (and exploring far corners of the internet) in search of that perfect gift for family and friends. It’s also a great time to consider supporting non-profit groups working towards causes we feel passionately about, such as animal conservation.
One such group, Polar Bears International offers an ‘adopt a polar bear’ project. With four different levels of support starting at just $25, this is both an affordable and meaningful gift. You can also become a member of their organization for $50, or make a contribution at any time during the year – now’s a great time as donations are being matched dollar-for-dollar through Dec.
Other non-profit groups you may consider supporting are The Polar Conservation Organization, The Nature Conservatory, the World Wildlife Fund, and Defenders of Wildlife. Some of these organizations also offer all kinds of animal ‘adoptions’ from belugas to snow leopards.
If you prefer a physical gift, but would like to stay away from the larger stores, you could consider looking into Etsy. Etsy’s an online marketplace specializing in hand-made crafts, jewelery, art, and clothing as well as vintage items. I recommend focusing a targeted search for what you’re looking for – otherwise you risk looking up from the computer and realizing you’ve lost hours window shopping through countless stores filled with possibly gifts, ornaments shaped like polar bears and beluga whales, narwhal necklaces, and illustrated prints of narwhal knitting a sock (a new kind of animal behavior?) as well as shirts featuring our favorite types of whales. Not to mention adorable hand-made bear hats for children.
Arctic Kingdom also maintains our own store online, featuring some very useful items. We have brand new 2011 Canada Goose outerwear arriving weekly, very ideal for winter adventures of all kinds. I also can’t recommend more highly the book Face to Face, Arctic Portraits, bringing together pioneering polar photographic images and modern portraiture in a beautiful art coffee table book. It’s a terrific gift for anyone interested in the history of polar exploration and photographic documentary work.
December 3rd, 2010 | By Jason Hillier | Filed in Community News, IN THE NEWS, INUIT, Inuit Culture/Art
Nunatsiaq online reports on a new show at La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse in Montreal. Women of the Arctic is the first in a planned series of exhibitions and events to highlight works by Inuit artists from Nunavik and Nunavut.
The show opened Nov 19 to an audience eager to view the work and enjoy a throat-singing performance by Evie Mark and Taqralik Partridge. The show consists of works on paper in a range of techniques including painting, drawing, and printmaking.
Some of the oldest prints exhibited at La Centrale gallery are those of the late Leah Nuvalinga Qumaluk, the well-known Puvirnituq printmaker, who passed away last August.
Her work has been shown in New York, Paris and in a number of Canadian collections.
Qumaluk created hundreds of prints since the early 1970s, including the eight exhibited.
Her narrative stone prints employ only a few colours but often many characters, like the 1972 “Morse surprenant les chasseurs” (walrus surprising the hunters) which shows a walrus emerge between two kayakers, with a flock of geese overhead.
In another, “Attente de retour des traineaux,” 1978 (waiting for the sleds to return) a group of four, hooded women’s faces seem to peer out of a blizzard.
The show is up until December 19 at Montreal’s La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse at 4296 St. Laurent Boulevard. If you’re in the area, take a moment to stop by and us know how it looks.
December 2nd, 2010 | By Jason Hillier | Filed in AK NEWS, AK PRODUCTS & SERVICES, IN THE NEWS
Writer Sarah Rose reports for Travel and Leisure that Baffin Island is one of North America’s best whale watching spots. We couldn’t agree more!
Bowhead Whale Watching
If you’re interested in whale watching, consider participating in our December 8 webinar, covering bowheads, walrus, and polar bears of Foxe Basin, or the January 12 webinar. Thomas will be discussing Bowhead whales, polar bears, and the glaciers of Baffin Island. A full list of our webinar schedule is here.
Sarah’s also compiled a list of ten daring adventures for privateclubs.com, and suggests booking your extended polar exploration with us. Thanks Sarah, I’ve now had to add white water rafting in Nepal to my ‘to do’ list!
December 2nd, 2010 | By Jason Hillier | Filed in Diving, Webinar
Join Arctic Kingdom expedition leader Thomas Lennartz for a virtual Arctic Diving expedition to Baffin Island.
Pulling from his experience on Baffin Islands numerous dive trips, Tom will share his insights on traveling in this remarkable trip and what you could expect to see by joining our upcoming floe edge expeditions
– Narwhal and Polar Bear Floe Edge Adventure Dive trip (May/June) and/or the Bowhead, Walrus and Polar Bears of Foxe Basin Dive trip (July).
On this webinar:
- Discover floe edges and the value of high-end expedition travel in extremely small group, land-based trips with an expert team of AK expedition divers in close partnership with Inuit guides
- See expedition highlights— diving in pack ice, along icebergs, at the floe edge, watch narwhals feeding, polar bears, soaring glaciers and stunning iceberg, and our safari-style eco-camps.
- Get a sense of daily activities – from floe edge activities such as types of dives, kayaking, traveling by snowmobile and qamutiks, hiking and more..
For related trip details visit:
Narwhal and Polar Bear Floe Edge DIVE Adventure
Ultimate Floe Edge Experience – Beluga, Narwhal and Polar Bears
Bowhead Whales, Walrus and Polar Bears of the Foxe Basin
November 30th, 2010 | By Jason Hillier | Filed in Current Events, IN THE NEWS
The Arctic Circle is a cute, short animated film by artist Kevin Parry. It tells the tale of a solitary man who encounters a mysterious box — one that seems to offer him great wealth. Filmmaker Tim Burton has described it as “a cross between 2001 and Rudolph: The Red-Nosed
November 29th, 2010 | By Jason Hillier | Filed in Arctic Animals, Conservation, Current Events, IN THE NEWS, SCIENCE
This is terrific news! President Obama has set aside 187,000 square miles in Alaska as a “critical habitat” for polar bears. The total area, which includes large areas of sea ice, is about 13,000 square miles, or 8.3 million acres. This action could have long reaching consequences towards limiting future offshore drilling for oil and natural gas. Increasingly, oil companies have been putting pressure on governments to open up arctic areas for drilling, actions heavily contested by conservationists.
Tom Strickland, assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks at the Interior Department, as quoted by the Washington Post –
This critical habitat designation enables us to work with federal partners to ensure their actions within its boundaries do not harm polar bear populations,” Strickland said. “We will continue to work toward comprehensive strategies for the long-term survival of this iconic species.”
A number of US Senators have been pushing for this kind of protection for some time, it’s encouraging to see the government taking significant action towards Polar Bear conservation.
Polar Bears in Hudson Bay
Interested in traveling to see the Polar Bears yourself? Learn more about the Arctic Kingdom travel experience with our webinar archive, and read up on our upcoming adventures. You can also check out Polar Bears International for more information on the animals, current conservation efforts, and ways you can directly aid their efforts.