Voyage Journal 7921 Day 5

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Day 5 - August 25, 2009 - Saqqaq, Greenland

By Chris Srigley, General Naturalist

Co-ordinates: 70°00’16N, 51°57’42W
Weather: 5°C, not a cloud in the sky

This morning we arrive at Saqqaq, a tiny Greenlandic village on the northern shores of Disko Bay that has opened its arms to the Prince Albert II and our guests. Sustained through hunting and fishing, today the village will turn its attention to tourism.

As we push through the small harbour’s mixture of ice and boats, we see evidence of local life everywhere. Several of the boats have the morning’s hunt hanging or floating off of their sterns, Ringed and Harp seals have been plentiful for the day.

Arriving at the dock, we are greeted by Saqqaqs chief; he welcomes each of the zodiacs to his village before showing them to the spread of cakes and coffee, which has been prepared. We are free to tour the village, say hello to the school kids and enjoy the “kafee mick” (cakes and coffee) at our own leisure.

Once I have finished with shuttling the guests to shore, I join Jarda Versloot, our Assistant Expedition Leader and several of the guests for a walk through town. As we reach the crest of a small hill we gaze out upon a bay of towering icebergs. This is a sight that must be seen, no words can truly describe the beauty in front of us.

Before the day had even begun, our Expedition Leader Robin West had decided that we must take the scenic route on our return to the ship. These icebergs could not be ignored. With this in mind I quickly returned to the landing site, as I was sure that the guests would be chomping at the proverbial bit to get out amongst the ice.

I had been correct to make my way back to the jetty. As I arrived guests were already waiting to head out on tour. I loaded the first of them and made for iceberg alley. It is amazing how quickly time goes when you are in the midst of your senses being bombarded like this. 40 minutes vanished and it was time for me to return to the ship and off load before picking up others onshore to head out again.

As time was winding down on my second tour our Marine Mammal specialist Rob Suisted came over the radio “WHALES, WHALES, we have a humpback and calf amongst the icebergs!!”

Having already pointed my zodiac in the ship’s direction, I quickly turned and made for the maze of ice behind. Entering, we were suddenly holding our breath as the calf surfaced some 20 meters in front of us and fluked (raised its tail out of the water).

Allowing the whales to gain some distance from us, all Zodiacs congregated and idled along behind before we lost sight after several minutes.

During this time, the Prince Albert II had repositioned itself for those onboard to get a look, and apparently the humpbacks were intrigued. We received a call from the Bridge, “whales on our port side”.

Eventually it was time to leave the whales to their activities and make way through Disko Bay. This afternoon we had planned an expedition day. We would spend time cruising south to see what we could find.

Once onboard I made straight for the Bridge to enjoy the sights and wonderful weather. I was joined by several of our guests before they headed off for lunch.

Captain Aleksander Golubev made several passes of large bergs during this time, bringing all rushing out onto the outer decks for photos.

Eventually it was evident we would be unable to get too far due to the ice, so after some discussions decided for a Zodiac tour amongst the ice.

Enjoyed by all we, headed back to the Prince Albert II for dinner and an early sleep. Tomorrow would be an amazing day in Ilullisat! Only time would tell.

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