by Nera Cornell
We’ve been stuck in ice, walking among ivory animal bones, talking with Canadian Inuit, and lots more over this 2014 summer.
Santa Maria Australis - In Antarctica at last
We’ve seen Dundas Harbour and the great Polar bear (Ursus maritimus), Cuming inlet and the shaggy Musk Ox (Ovibos moschatus), Beechey island with its Franklin graves and Gyrfalcons. Among other, more marine wildlife, we’ve spotted Humpback whales in Greenland, seals practically anywhere you look, and a Sperm whale in the last week. This isn’t really even mentioning all the birds such as Fulmars, Murres, Scuas, and Dovekies.
Aventura and Suilven at anchor in Dundas Harbour, Devon Island, Canadian Arctic (Lat 74°31’ N, Long 82°30’W) - Blue Planet Odyssey
Other than what we have actually seen, this trip was meant to highlight something bigger, affecting the whole Earth: climate change. We’ve read about how there are indisputable facts and figures showing and proving the existence of this changing climate and how the ice in the Arctic is melting, but when you really go there it makes it all the more real.
What with the Inuit finding the melting season is longer while the sea ice is lessening so hunting becomes harder. Even just looking around and seeing a Polar bear standing among grey scree with its stark yellowy-white pelt and seeing the contrast of the two it’s not hard to imagine them becoming extinct. Just seeing the receding glaciers and how they are melting more and more makes an impact.
Even now, after so long, no boats have yet made it through the Northwest Passage; some of the ice still hasn’t melted and boats are still waiting.
I guess one thing shows how amazingly awe-inspiring the Arctic really is, are the Northern lights. Last night, our last night at sea, we were presented with these shimmering, ethereal visions criss-crossing the night sky. What a wonderful, natural sight which seems totally untaintable by human hand. The Northern lights, Aurora borealis are usually seen only in winter as the nights are dark and generally clear so it was a big surprise for us. They are sun flares which escape the gravity of the sun and are released into space and some are attracted by the gravitational pull of Earth. When they hit the atmosphere, the colour can be seen in high latitudes such as in the Arctic. Usually, they can be predicted as the sun is monitored.
Using Alvin's manipulator arm, a pilot positions Vent-SID's umbilicus into place at a warm-water vent and trigger the start of sampling vent fluids into the device incubation chambers.
So now, after my last night at sea, I can say I’ve seen an amazing array of all the Arctic has to offer and what everyone else should understand and see to realise how important all of this environment is to Earth. That’s definitely been the point of these blogs for me: to allow not only myself, but others to want to work to keep the wonders of the Arctic alive.