Day 9 |
Aug 07, 2008

Iqaluit, Canada

By Claudia Holgate, Environmental Lecturer

Co-ordinates: 63° 41' 28" 68° 29' 00"

Temperature: 39° F 3.9° C

Wind: 19km/h Northerly wind

Weather: Very foggy low visibility, clearing to blue skies with a few high cirrus clouds

After a full day and a half at sea going through the Davis Strait, we woke up to a morning where fog enveloped the ship in a silent shroud. Conrad Combrink, Expedition Leader, came over the intercom with his usual happy voice wishing everyone a good morning and providing a forecast for the day. This greeting included, “Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, on our starboard side you will see Pike Island, well you would if it weren’t for the fog.” So alas, our transit down the fjord was not a spectacular event.

During the thee-hour journey through some difficult navigation, we were “edutained” by Brent, our ornithologist, on extinctions and re-discoveries in the bird world. What a great talk! The lecture started in a most depressing fashion detailing so many extinctions of birds caused by humans. Brent then went on to tell us the story of the rediscovery of the New Zealand Storm Petrel, in which he played a crucial role. What a fantastic story of a little sea bird thought to be extinct for 150 years. Its re-discovery meant that it just missed being published in a book on extinct birds. Feeling buoyed by the good news, we were ready for an early lunch and the Canadian immigration that we had to go through before we could land at Iqaluit.

On arrival at Iqaluit, all guests presented themselves before the immigration officials to have their passports stamped. This done, we could start loading the Zodiacs for a rather long trip to the high-water landing site. What an experience! The tidal variation is so huge that we could watch the tide going out on a minute-by minute-basis. Once all the guests were ashore at the museum and information centre, they had a quick look at the exhibits before going off on a sightseeing tour of the little town. During the tour, we stopped off at the legislature where the government procedures were explained and we had the opportunity to examine the Narwhal tusk that is used as a mace – what an extraordinary piece!

After the legislature, we went to the parish hall, where we were treated to drum dancing and singing, followed by a demonstration of Inuit high kicking, were the performer could kick a stick probably 2.5m high with one foot and about 2m with both feet. This was a feat of incredible proportions that none of us had ever seen before. This demonstration was topped only by the demonstration of Inuit throat singing, which, when explained to us and slowed to a pace we could follow, amazed us even further. On the way back to the ship many of the staff and guests amused everyone by their attempts at throat singing, which didn’t come close to the real thing.

The evening recap and briefing was followed by another sumptuous meal, after which we went up to the Panorama Lounge for our traditional game of Liars Club. What a hoot! With four of the staff trying to convince the audience that their word had the correct definition. Between Chris’ shapely buttocks and Brent’s feelings of being crapulous, much fun was had by all. Before retiring to our suites, we had a discussion on the likelihood of seeing the Aurora Borealis, which would be a special treat for most guests on the ship. It was a clear night so the possibility was there, however, the Aurora is normally seen from the end of August, so we were a bit early. Anyway, we went to bed and shortly after midnight the call came through the Intercom. “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are sorry to wake you, but there is an Aurora visible on the starboard side and we recommend that you go and see it.” Well, no more encouragement was needed. Most guests quickly changed (many wore only their dressing gowns) and went quickly up on deck. What a sight was to be had by all – with the green light moving and waving in the sky. What a great way to end the day!