29.06.2011 - 29.06.2011 -2 °C
Early morning again as we needed to get up and go out via zodiac to a peninsular to see an old research station that was used back in the early 30s. The research station was used in one of the “polar years” to allow for increased research into arctic environments. The peninsular is predominantly these small “shale-like” shards of rock. The rocks are extremely weather beaten and quite frail when you put your weight on them.
We were fortunate because it snowed with no wind for nearly the whole time we were on the pensinsular. Really nice! Saw some seals and reindeer! The first reindeer I’ve seen on this trip! This was also the time when people who wanted to swim in the arctic jumped in the ocean to do their arctic swim! Considering the snow- myself, conductor and bookie all opted out of the arctic swim—yep big chickens r us!!
We spent the arvo steaming up to the top of the island and to the North Pole’s pack ice! We went as far as we can possibly go today—we effectively made it to the North Pole! As far as we could go North was 80 degrees and 26 minutes North! To make it to 90 degrees and the North Pole you have to be on board an ice breaker ship. Our ship is ice rated but isn’t a breaker.. it means we miss the pole by about 700kms. Close enough for me!
We drove alongside the ice pack all afternoon which meant we were able to see heaps of polar animals; seals, truck loads of sea birds and some whales. We also saw an animal called a Narwhal. A Narwhal is a type of whale, is extremely rare (to be seen by ships) and we were lucky enough to see a pod of them! Narwhal’s have a huge tusk that comes out like a unicorn’s horn they can be anywhere up to 11 ft long!!!! The Narwhal’s tusk is actually one of it’s canine teeth and spiral’s out from its head! They aren’t sure what the tusk is for but surmise it is probably to indicate dominance amongst males (the female’s don’t have the tusk) it isn’t used for skewering food (which is what I thought it was for!!).
The day was capped off by seeing a huge pack of Walruses’ asleep on the beach! They were all piled on top of each other sleeping off their hard day’s work! I think that seals and the seal family are probably my favourite (esp after my encounter in NZ and now seeing them here!)