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Day 13 |
Sep 19, 2010

Akpatok 

By Robin Aiello, Marine Biologist

Co-ordinates: N60º35’33.6” W068º01’50.0”

Weather: sunny with moderate winds
Air Temperature: 7ºC

I couldn’t believe my eyes – it was sunny when I woke up this morning and opened the curtains! Clear skies! Fantastic!

Today we were doing a Zodiac tour along the steep cliffs of Akpatok Island – a place where polar bears wander the narrow coastal beaches looking for food during the summer months as they wait for the ice to refreeze.

I had never been here before, although I had heard my colleagues describe the beauty of the place. And I wasn’t disappointed. The steep cliffs of this island loom 150 – 250 meters above the sea. And, since they are all limestone, you can see the striking banding of the layers.

As usual for this site, the swells were very large – some were easily 2m high, but they were not breaking, so with the help of the Captain maneuvering the ship to give us a calm lee, we were able to load the Zodiacs and head off for the Zodiac tour. Within a few minutes the lead Zodiac radioed in that they had found two bears already! They were about a half a kilometer apart, but they were both down on the beach and easy to see. We watched silently from the Zodiacs as the bears walked at a nonchalant pace along the beach. On several occasions the bears would stop and sniff around, obviously trying to find some food scraps. At one point one of the bears found something (I think it was a bird carcass.) and stopped to tear bits off and eat it.

As the hours rolled by, we kept up with these bears and everyone got some wonderful views of these magnificent animals. On the second cruise we spotted a couple more – making it a sighting of a total of 5 bears – not bad!!!

We were all back on board for lunch and an afternoon at sea with two lectures. Sue Flood, one of our General Naturalists, gave a lecture all about her experiences as a Assistant Producer with the BBC working on the Discovery series “The Blue Planet”. Her stories kept us captivated for the entire lecture!

I was the second lecturer of the afternoon, giving my lecture entitled “Polar Bears – from Tip to Tail”. During this lecture I talked about all the amazing ways that polar bears survive in the cold Arctic climes!

Later in the evening, after dinner, we got together up in the Panorama Lounge for another Liar’s Club – but this time, a group of our guests took up the challenge to be panel members for the game. It was a lot of fun to be on the other side of things and laugh at the stories (lies) that they made up for the words. There was a lot of laughter and teasing!! A great way to end a great day!!

 

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