Arctic Cruise Adventure Trip Log ( 17 - 31 Jul, 2017) - Monday, Jul 24

Arctic Cruise Adventure Trip Log ( 17 - 31 Jul, 2017) - Monday, Jul 24
January 2018
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Today, Le Boreal steams swiftly to Jan Mayen, an incredibly remote volcanic island situated well above the Arctic circle. After a week of excitement in the high arctic, we have the chance to share photos, reflect on the journey already behind us, and get anticipate all the adventure yet to come! Sea conditions remain calm throughout the day, and between meals we are provided ample opportunities to engage with the expedition team. Bob Burton, the expedition’s historian, lectures on the sad but fascinating history of whaling, a topic which is particularly relevant to this region, where Norwegian and Icelandic whaling still occurs. Many of the places we have been to already were originally settled and explored by early whalers, hoping to exploit the rich waters of the Arctic ocean. Whale hunts today are a fraction of what they once were, and most profits go directly to small communities which continue to live off the sea.

After Bob’s lecture, our naturalist and bear guard Brent Houston speaks on his many years of experience working among polar bears, offering us insight into their life histories and the challenges they face in a changing climate. After our close encounter with bears the day before, these animals hold a special place in the hearts of many, and Brent’s knowledge of bear biology and behavior further enhances what was already a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Later this afternoon, Sabina Mense continues with the cetacean theme, discussing the evolution of the oceanic leviathans we have already had the chance to encounter. Many are surprised to learn that whales evolved from a land-dwelling ancestor, and have slowly adapted to an increasingly marine lifestyle over the past 50 million years. Though today they may resemble fish more closely than other mammals, there are several telltale indicators that give away their evolutionary past. Like all mammals, whales breathe oxygen, and must thus return periodically to the surface to take in fresh air. Like a human, they give birth to live young which are nourished by the mother’s milk, and close inspection of the whale’s skeleton will reveal a vestigial pelvic bone, a relic of these animals’ terrestrial past.

We are well-fed and well-rested as we begin our approach to Jan Mayen, eagerly anticipating our visit to this rarely-seen volcano!

Click Here to read 'Tuesday, July 25: At Sea for Jan Mayen'

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