Day 13 - August 19, 2013 - Douglas Harbour, Canada
By By Claudia Holgate, Ornithologist
Co-ordinates: 62° 23,3 N, 072° 58,0’W
Weather: Clear with some clouds later in the day
Air Temperature: 4.5° C
Pressure: 1010 hPa
We had never been to Douglas Harbour before, so the expedition team was out scouting the two arms of Douglas Harbour at 6am this morning. We dropped off scouting parties at different potential landing sites and then drove down the South Western arm of the fjord.
The whole fjord is really beautiful with different rock features, many metamorphic rocks creating swirls within the rock. One could see the impact of previous glaciations, with a shiny patina on the rock face where they had been scraped and polished by glaciers that once existed in this area.
One of our considerations was the tide. As the tidal variation is between six and seven meters we would start our landing at high tide, but it would drop fairly fast. We finished our scouting at about 8am and found a lovely spot where there was a river flowing down the mountain, with two small lakes upstream.
Robin decided to offer a long and a short hike up the mountain, where our guests saw plenty of lemmings quickly scurrying away; they don’t leap off mountains as many people believe. While we didn’t see any caribou, there were certainly traces of them. Their antlers lay near the landing site, and in some areas we found their tracks. During the scouting, one of the scouting party even saw the tracks of a wolf, so there is certainly wildlife around.
I did some scouting around the shoreline further north of the landing site and found a Rough Legged Buzzard who didn’t like my presence. He flew over me a few times, before perching on the rock face. It was a very scenic stop and our guests enjoyed the opportunity to get out and stretch their legs.
In the afternoon, we had some time at sea as we headed off to Cape Dorset, so we resumed with our educational programme. After lunch we screened “Nanook of the North,” a documentary film released in 1922, by filmmaker Robert J Flaherty who spent a year following the lives of Nanook and his Inuit family living in the Arctic Circle.
Tea time at sea means “Team Trivia.” Robin Aiello, our marine biologist, created a challenging and humorous trivia game based on organisms in the Arctic. My team, the “I knew its” won, as we did yesterday, even though I was not allowed to really help them along.
At 5pm, Rapa Nui, our historian, gave a lecture on life in the Arctic as seen by the Cape Dorset Inuit. Considering the harsh conditions of the Arctic and High Arctic of North America and Greenland, one would not expect art to be of interest to the local inhabitants. However, in his lecture, Rapa shared some information on surprising cultural artifacts and expressions of traditional and contemporary Inuit Art.
Recap and briefing followed with Uli talking about those tiny organisms called tardigrades, Kara spoke about lemmings as we had seen so many today, and Peter gave a recap on Davis, after whom the Davis Strait is named.
Another day on Silver Explorer is coming to an end. Everyone heads off to The Restaurant for dinner before getting some rest. Looking forward to tomorrow, another interesting day in the Canadian Arctic.
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