Arctic Cruise Adventure Trip Log ( 17 - 31 Jul, 2017) - Friday, Jul 28

Friday, July 28: En Route to Iceland
January 2018

With calm seas and clear skies,Le Boreal sails through the Denmark Strait from Greenland to Iceland, the final chapter in this unforgettable journey. These are rich waters, and we hope to observe some new wildlife as we enter South. Our marine mammalogist, Sabina Mense, kicks off the morning with her lecture “Marine Mammals: The Arctic Cast II — Cetaceans”, discussing the variety of whales and dolphin that are likely to see as we approach Iceland. On cue, our first sighting of the day comes shortly after her talk, as our naturalists spot two fin whales from the bridge! Nearly as large as the blue whale, the fin whale is the second largest animal on our planet and subsists mainly on the schooling fish and krill found abundantly in these waters. Again, we recognize this as a mother and calf pair, noting the large, recurved dorsal fin and streamlined brown body that distinguishes fin whales from others in their family. We are also fortunate to hear from the two Norwegian ornithologists who joined Le Boreal in Jan Mayen. They offer a fascinating lecture on the seabird research that is conducted on this far-off research station, and took some time to highlight one of the greatest threats to oceanic birds today; plastic waste.

This afternoon, naturalist Brent Houston offered an exciting summary of his many years of experience working with polar bears, entertaining us with a few tales from his own time in the Arctic. Our team of naturalists is on deck to assist us in our identification of the seabird species that follow Le Boreal throughout the day, and those of us observing are treated to more sightings of fulmar, guillemot and kittiwake close to the ship. Richard Harker, our expedition photographer, offers a lecture on photographic techniques in the Arctic, referencing the the famed Ansel Adams and inspiring us with his own images as well. Richard also gives us insight as to how we can enhance our images when we return home using software in a way that captures these wild lands as we perceived them.

Just after dinner, our ship crosses an underwater ridge, and we spot the splash of a humpback whale far in the distance! In the span of a few minutes, the ship is surrounded by these 40-foot long behemoths, which offer some fantastic views as they maneuver through the waves, manipulating schools of fish into dense ‘bait balls’ which they can then scoop up with their enormous mouths. Nearly everyone is drawn to the decks by the dozens of whales which surround Le Boreal in the distance, and one even lifts its entire body out of the water in a spectacular breach! For several hours into the night, the spouts of whales can be seen as we enjoy a final drink at the bar and turn in, excited for our arrival in Iceland.

Click Here to read 'Saturday, July 29: NW Iceland'