June 15th, 2015 | By Prisca Campbell | Filed in AK NEWS, AK PRODUCTS & SERVICES
Expedition Leader Jane Whitney has sent us a report and photos from the floe edge
On our second trip to the Floe Edge, we had to pull our qamutik sleds over the dark open water leads between the big ice pans. Dozens of Northern Fulmars were feeding at the surface, while flocks of Black Guillemots twirled and landed. Ring seal slipped into the water and bobbed with curious eyes.
Great migrations of narwhal and icebergs
At the floe edge, we had stopped near two massive icebergs grounded in their travel from the Greenland icecap which made for a dramatic backdrop for the dozen Narwhal our guides had spotted. They were gone as quickly as they arrived, and so we waited. A large, 800 pound Bearded seal passed through, followed by even larger 3500 pound Atlantic Walrus.
It was lunch time, and our chef was frying up open faced Beef Burgers with onion and gravy with a warm wild mixed mushroom soup. Someone in the group pointed out excitedly the Polar Bear Sow coming our way with two of this year’s stark white cubs in tow. We tripped in excitement, the setting was so perfect. The mother bear would not stay for long however, and left quickly with her cubs in tow. What a show for lunch!
We would see bear after bear approach from the east, most making their way south to the seal they could smell nearly 5 km away. One of the bears was making it’s way through the rough shore ice toward us. We silently clicked away with our cameras. It took it’s time, coming ever so slowly. At one point it stood up to get a better view of us, and it had to be nearly 9 feet tall. Down it went and made it’s way to the water, entering ever so slowly, lying on it’s belly, head first, rear paws faced skyward the last to enter. The ice it swam to was thin enough it took a few attempts to get on, and once up, the bear shook three times, water droplets flying. The bear slide into the water on the other side of the ice and slowly swam across the vision of our binoculars and long lenses. We watch a seal approach the bear, and both passed each other as if they hadn’t a care in the world. Later we would paddled our kayaks to a pan of ice where we climbed out to see the bear move across another, bigger, jagged pan of ice. Coming back, we marveled at the different shades of blue of the sculpted ice in the Arctic waters. By the end of the day we had counted 8 bears.
We had a lot of fun this week together, enjoying our new friendships. Gavin helped us celebrate the week by barbequing grilled vegetables with seared Arctic air dried strip loin steak over buttermilk whipped mash potato au jus at the ice edge. The whales were a little late for the after dinner show, but the Beluga did show up…maybe 15 to 20 blowing so much water out of their blowholes before diving under the pack ice where we stood to feed.
What was amazing was we could hear their blows under the ice in the air pockets they found there.
The Great Migrations of Lancaster Sound