VIRTUAL EXPLORATIONS > ARCHIVED EXPLORATIONS > ELYSIUM ARTISTS FOR THE ARCTIC
Part 11: Updates for September 5
Posted: Saturday, September 5, 2015
The guides here are one of the best sources of information about the Arctic world we are exploring. They say they haven’t seen a polar bear cub all season except in Greenland. There used to be 3 cubs to every mother bear. This apparently is becoming rarer and rarer to see on the ice floes. They tell us that ice floes that we have seen are made up of single-year ice not multi-year ice, which means the ice is not going back and building — up it is … melting. These facts sombre us up as we cruise through the pack ice, climbing out on an ice floe with bear tracks crossing from one floe to the other. One eye out for bears, another for holes or thin spots we do not want to fall through. It is a day for photographing melting icicles and blue seas and black birds. No polar bears today, maybe no polar bears tomorrow. The future is definitely uncertain for not only the polar bears, but many other species.
After a wonderful afternoon of snorkeling around and walking on shifting ice floes, we continued looking for polar bears before beginning our sail back down to Longyearbyen in the early evening. We weren’t as lucky today as we were yesterday with the bear encounter, but we did make some stunning images of an Arctic sky that was as ephemeral and unpredictable as nearly everything here appears to be. In our polar north, beauty seems to manifest itself in severe ways.
The evening also brought us a captivating and informative talk by none other than our lead scientist, Her Deepness, Dr. Sylvia Earle. Sylvia discussed the critical importance of underwater exploration in our understanding of the planet and impressed upon us the need for submersibles that can make the mysteries of the ocean’s depths accessible to all, not just those working in the field of deep ocean exploration and engineering. Her call to action was poignant and compelling, as are nearly all her words, and she followed these sentiments up with a screening of her newest film, Mission Blue. This entertaining and informative look into the life of Dr. Earle and her many adventures was enjoyed by the entire crew and all Elysium team members.
After another delicious dinner, Cabell Davis conducted his fourth plankton trawl of the expedition. The goal is to sample at least ten different locations along our journey to establish the composition of the planktonic community as it changes throughout the Arctic. According to Dr. Davis, “The sample was almost all Calanus glacialis with minor incidences of gelatinous species. Practically the whole sample was red. This is a very healthy plankton community in these waters.” The Elysium team is always fascinated by the diverse variety of life that can be found in just a few ounces of Arctic seawater.