Day 8 |
Sep 01, 2013

Akpatok Island, Canada

By Stefan Kredel, Geologist

Co-ordinates: S 60º37', W 67º53'
Weather: Cloudy and pretty windy
Air Temperature: 3ºC, 37ºF
Pressure:1004 hPa
Wind: 23,7 knots

At 6:45 a.m. I left my cabin and headed to the Panorama Lounge for the Early Riser’s Breakfast. Here I met Kara, our Expedition Leader on this voyage. She needed drivers for the Zodiacs, and as I was awake anyway, she thought I could be one of them. One coffee and ten minutes later I was in a Zodiac.

It was worth it to get out there right away. We were on our approach to the East side of Akpatok Island, and it had been 10 years since I was last at the beach we were planning to land, so I was excited to come back. Tim and I went out with the bear guards to scan the coast line for Polar Bears. I was hoping so much to not see any polar bear, as that would have cancelled our landing straight away. And we were lucky, no bears in sight. Because on Akpatok quite some bears get stranded in early summer when the sea ice is melting in the Hudson Bay.

We managed to offer a landing, but as the distance from the ship to the landing site was quite long, it was decided to let only half of the guests at a time ashore. That way, in the event of a polar bear showing up, we could evacuate all guests at once with the Zodiacs.

Once the groups were ashore, I had the chance to disembark the Zodiac and explore. I found quite a few fossils in the rocks. With the whole setting being limestone, in a shallow sea environment in the time of the Ordovician, the fossils must have dated 450 million years before today. Back then, the rocks we were standing on today were deposited in a far warmer climate.

I found molluscs, brachiopods, corals, trilobites and graptolites fossils, just to name a few. At the beginning it always takes some time to find the first fossil, but once you have the eye for it, you see them literally everywhere. The guests spent the morning looking for fossils, and took many photos of the ones that were found.

After a quick lunch I went to the bridge to see what the plan was for the afternoon. The idea was to go to the north side of the island, as there was a bird cliff. For this reason, quite often we can find polar bears beneath the cliffs hoping to get lucky with some food.

After tea time we arrived at the area and already from the ship side the first polar bears were spotted. Up to 11 bears were counted along the shoreline. We lowered our Zodiacs and offered a Zodiac cruise close to the polar bears, but still keeping a safe distance, to keep us as well as the bears safe. On the first cruise we had one mother with two young pups, and in a bit of a distance a single male bear. On the second tour another mother with one pup showed up.

It was an amazing day, and all worked out as I wished! No bears in the morning, so that we had a chance to get ashore to have a look at the fossils, and in the afternoon we still managed to offer great sightings of polar bears from the Zodiacs!

Once I was back on board, I had dinner with some guests from New Zealand’s big island in the west, also known as Australia. It was lovely dinner with a lot of great stories, and we headed into the great atmosphere of the Panorama Lounge.