A journey onto and beyond the ice floe edge concentrating on two giants of the Arctic: Walrus and Bowhead whales.
Bowheads are one of the rarest of whale species. Hunted nearly to extinction by commercial whalers, they are finally making a slow comeback. Rarely seen even in their native Arctic waters, it is always a very special moment to see them spy hopping along the horizon. The Foxe Basin spring bowhead migration is well known to the Inuit in the high Arctic and to wildlife filmmakers. 2009 will mark our tenth year coming to the Foxe Basin region just south of the Hecla and Fury Straits to witness this annual migration of bowheads along the ‘bowhead highway’.
The waters of the Foxe Basin are some of the richest in the Arctic and have attracted Inuit hunters for more than four thousand years. Our daily sorties will take us across to the ice floe edge via snomobiles and qamutiks. From there, we take boats out into the open waters. Whether sitting quietly on the floe edge waiting for a passing Bowhead or having lunch on the floating pack ice amongst the walrus, we will constantly be aware of the effect of the ice’s movements as we travel over, between and past almost every kind of ice.
This is a journey of amazing panoramas. Whether you’re facing a hundred walrus, reflecting on the beauty of an absolutely mirror-calm ocean, staring up mountains of ice, or watching for animals along the tundra, there are countless unforgettable scenes. Some are so lucky as to connect with the animals and peer into the eye of a passing Bowhead or directly into the eyes of a Polar Bear swimming by our boat.
Watching the animals under the midnight sun is simply magical. Dusk moves directly into dawn, with each sunset followed by an immediate sunrise, creating a dramatic play of light and shadow across the ice and the open sea. The shallow depths are ideal for divers, who can easily reach the bottom while ice diving and can explore walls covered in life. Open water diving from the floe edge along walls of ice is an unforgettable experience, especially for snorkelers and divers wishing to experience the sights and experiences underwater without venturing below the ice.
- Witness the beauty of life at the ice floe edge and beyond it, where frozen ice meets open water – from crystaline ice bergs calved from glaciers, electric blue pack ice formations, hundreds of birds diving and weaving and of course, the migrating pods of whales
- See the northward migrating bowhead whales breach playfully, fin sideways and slap their immense fluke on the mirror smooth water amongst the floating ice pancakes
- Wonder at the actual immense size of walrus – bigger than a car - as you see large herds of walrus sunning themselves on floating ice islands
- Capture stunning photographs of pods of a mother walrus and baby in the soft glow of the midnight sun
- Snorkel or dive along the ice floe edge, and exhilarate in the moment when a bowhead whale swims by on it’s way to the Hecla and Fury strait
- Listen the the chirps and whistles of the whale songs while underwater, or through a hydrophone on the surface
- Experience all aspects of the high Arctic from Inuit culture to spectacular wide open landscapes, to ancient Inuit sod house settlements
- A good chance of seeing Polar Bear hunting for seals among the floating pans of ice
- Bask in the warm glow of the midnight sun during the brief time of year where there is 24 hour day light
- See the transition of the arctic from winter to spring – from frozen tundra to melting rivers and blossoming arctic flowers
Day 1 – Early morning departure for Iqaluit, then on to Igloolik, Nunavut.
Day 2-6 – Travel out to base camp on arrival (approx. 30 min journey. Daily sorties in search of the Bowhead whales, herds of walrus on floating ice islands, hikes and floe edge lunches.
Day 7 – Flight to Iqaluit – change planes and continue to Ottawa.