The Northwest Passage Trip Log (21 Aug - 13 Sep 2017) - ​Friday, Sep 8

​Friday, September 8
January 2018

Early this morning ‘Le Boreal’ entered Franklin Bay, a large inlet in the Amundsen Gulf situated along the coast of Canada’s Northwest Territories. Before long, we witnessed one of the Arctic’s natural wonders known as the Smoking Hills, named by John Franklin during his 1826 exploration expedition. Geologist Ralph Edelman provided a lucid description of this geological phenomenon as we sailed by. Unfortunately, due to the weather, a zodiac tour was not possible. Ralph explained that the smoke is a result of fires that are caused by the auto-ignition of Mesozoic (dinosaur) age mudstones that contain pyrite (fool’s gold) and Sulphur-rich lignite-bituminous deposits. While the resulting clouds of smoke create an impressive site, the sulfur from the smoke has acidified shallow ponds in the surrounding tundra.

As ‘Le Boreal’ headed along Amundsen Gulf, the naturalists were back at the bridge scouting for sea life. They were successful as they spotted a Bowhead Whale by mid-afternoon, and by early evening twenty more were sited. If not out on deck, one could take in Ralph Eshelman’s lecture entitled “Norwegian Land Grab or Canadian Complacency,” followed later by Richard Harker’s presentation named “In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams.” Another creative pastime was offered by Patricia and Jen who continued their series on the art of needle felting. To complete the activity, the Expedition Recap had a surprise performance by impresario Mike Beedell, adorned in his cow costume. What an introduction to Herschel Island!

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