Day 7 |
Aug 05, 2008

Arsuk Braa Glacier

By Chris Srigley, General Naturalist

Co-ordinates: 61° 18,1N 048° 03,1W

As we awoke this morning, overcast skies and relatively warm temperatures of 9˚C greeted us.  It seemed that our captain Paul Heslop had been correct, through the night either dense fog or heavy ice had slowed our progress as we had not yet arrived at our destination for the morning, the Arsuk Braa Glacier.

Those from Zodiac groups two and three made their way to The Restaurant for a relaxing breakfast during our approach.  With our breakfast finished, Prince Albert II in position, and our Zodiacs at the ready, we commenced what was to be our last activity in Greenland.  Looking back over the last few days, we could only expect this morning to be as exciting as those that had preceded it. 

Our first stop along the tour was an impressive waterfall fed by glacier run-off.  You had to wonder how long a river of this magnitude had been running with this volume of water and how long it would continue with the a rate of melt that they are experiencing here in Greenland.  After a bit of time spent here, we needed to move on, as we had several miles to cover before getting to Arsuk Braa. Along the way we were greeted by brilliant pieces of ice in all shades of blue that had come from the glacier, which was still hidden around the bend in the fjord. Blacklegged Kittiwake and Iceland Gulls soared above our heads, feeding in the rich waters within the fjord.  Among the sheer cliffs that lined this fjord, there were several Kittiwake colonies scattered about. Tony Huntley was able to spot a few last remaining fledglings amongst the nests, which, by this time of season, would be leaving the nest before too long.  Arriving any later in the season than we had today, we may have found only a few Kittiwake remaining on these nests.  Soon they would be heading for more southerly locations.

Rounding the bend, the fog-shrouded Arsuk Braa glacier appeared, and all thoughts of our early start instantly erased! The fjord was narrow and steep on both sides, and we could hear bits of the glacier thundering into the water at a great distance.  With every sound we looked up, hoping for a show. However, each time the noise far outweighed what we were to see.  As we made our way to within a range that our drivers said was as close as we could get, we were treated to what we had all hoped for – a thundering roar released a piece of ice the size of a large truck. Crashing into the water below we were witness to why the distance we were from the glacier was safe, as the wave that was created was surprising. By the time it reached us however, it was only a gentle roll.

During our tour we had not realized that the Prince Albert II had followed us, it was now time to head back onboard and allow those from groups four and one to head out and enjoy the wonders that we had been witness to over the last hour and fifteen minutes. With the next groups in the Zodiacs, the tour began again, this time in reverse. We would start with the glacier and end with the waterfall.  As we left for Arsuk Braa, the Prince Albert II headed back up the fjord to await our return. For us on the second tour, the glacier was not as accommodating, however we enjoyed the its majesty before working away from it.  As the distance between us and the glacier and us grew, its true size came to life, a truly impressive sight.

Boarding the Prince Albert II, our head Sommelier Karolina, once again greeted us with hot drinks to warm up before heading to The Restaurant for another fantastic meal. After such an early start to the day, we all needed a bit of a rest before heading to The Theatre to join Juan Carlos Restrepo for his timely talk entitled “Glacier Ice”.  While some enjoyed this informative lecture, others gathered in the Panorama Lounge for tea and discussion of Greenland. How unfortunate it was to be leaving such a wonderful place already.

Fog and rain began to close in on the ship as we headed into the Davis Strait en route to Canada.  The calm seas would have made for good whale spotting, if not for the fog.

After a short break, we were treated to a photo workshop with our award-winning photographer Camille Seaman. Using some of our photos, we were given Camille’s thoughts on which photos to use and which to discard, along with how to edit them when necessary.  As per usual with Camille’s talks, we all exited The Theatre armed with the knowledge that would allow us to improve on our photography.

Another fantastic day was winding down, a perfect way to end our time in Greenland.  Over the next 48 hrs, as we cross the Davis Strait like so many explorers before, we will have time to digest the sites of Greenland while building our anticipation of what’s to come within Canada’s waters…