Day 8 |
Aug 06, 2008

En Route to Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada

By Tony Huntley, Marine Biologist

Midday Position: 61° 51.2’ N, 60° 9.7’ W

A day at sea passes at a leisurely pace. Today we sailed across the Davis Strait along the route Leif Erickson traveled from Greenland to North America almost 1000 years ago. Somehow this seemed strangely appropriate as I installed a new bulletin board display on the discovery of Vinland by these Vikings. The discovery of Vinland and other lands on the eastern coast of North America is recorded in two medieval Icelandic sagas, the Saga of Eiríkur the Red and the Saga of the Greenlanders. These were probably written around the year 1200, just over two centuries after the events they record. Of course it is likely that many details in them were distorted or altered in the time during the 200 years they were passed down orally; but these two sagas contain a central body of facts in common, including most of the characters, the new lands in the west, and many of the main events. It is exciting to realize that we have or will visit many of the places mentioned in these sagas.

At 1000, Nancy Mann gave a lecture entitled “Finned and Sometimes Furry: Pinnipeds of the North Atlantic”. She gave us a comprehensive look at the species we have seen and hope to see during our voyage. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the lecture involved the breeding strategy of the ice seals. It is fascinating that seal milk can contain 40 – 60% fat, whereas cow’s milk is around 4%. This makes sense when one learns that pups in this group are nursed from 5 to 28 days. The high fat milk allows maximum weight gain in a very short nursing period. 

Juan Carlos Restrepo, our geologist, gave a lecture on “Earth: What Lies Beneath”. He explained how the theory of plate tectonics is critical to understanding most concepts in geology today. In this region of the world, frequent earthquakes and volcanoes are to be expected. As we travel further towards Canada, passing onto the North American plate, this type of activity will decrease.

After lunch, Susan Langley gave an impromptu talk on bees. Following this, she spoke on “Habbakuk, Ship of Ice.” Operation Habbakuk was an experimental World War II floating landing strip for planes constructed of ice. It was intended to be used as a stepping stone for refueling planes on the trip from North America to Europe. The project was scrapped when Iceland became an option. Susan explored and mapped this site from 1984 to the present.

Many guests spent a leisurely afternoon on the Sun Deck watching for marine mammals and birds. Some guests reported seeing White-beaked Dolphins and two Fin Whales. The unusually calm seas in the Davis Strait aided in this search. Numerous Northern Fulmars and Kittiwakes and a single Atlantic Puffin were also noted. 

Following recap, members of Silversea’s Venetian Society were invited to a cocktail party in the Theatre. There are 99 guests onboard this voyage who have sailed with Silversea before. They make up an astounding 82% of the entire guest list. Following the cocktail party, a Venetian Dinner was held in The Restaurant.