For a day that was bookended with fog, we had an absolutely amazing time — a truly great expeditionary day. As we crossed the Denmark Strait and approached Greenland in the middle of the night, we bumped and thumped our way through an extensive area of drift ice that gave our insomniacs opportunities to watch humpback whales and seals. For most of us, though, the day began with an atmospheric, even mysterious morning mist hanging low over the sea surface and the wonderful ice through which we navigated.
When the fog finally lifted, we found ourselves surrounded by a brilliant mosaic of ice with panoramic views of the spectacularly mountainous coast that had magically materialised. We found our first icebergs and our first glaciers, and every passing moment brought new and changing vistas and entrancing views — with the stark beauty of the Arctic in every direction.
As an interlude in the morning, we continued our educational program with our National Geographic Global Perspective Speaker, the famous mountaineer and explorer Peter Hillary. Peter shared with us his inspiring presentation, entitled “7 summits and 3 poles,” about his adventures on high peaks and in icy waters. In a similar interlude in the afternoon, Mark Brazil gave his presentation called “Cool Birds of Cold Places.”
The highlight of the day was the true meat in the sandwich — a wonderfully prolonged sighting of our first polar bear. For nearly an hour and a half, we watched her behaviour as she ate snow, chased away scavenging gulls, flopped down to rest, drank water from a meltwater pool, and dragged a seal she had freshly killed from one ice floe to another. As icing on that ursine cake, there were no fewer than three gorgeous ivory gulls, a rare High Arctic species, in attendance, along with the more common glaucous and Iceland gulls.
As the afternoon concluded, the fog rolled back in and left us once more in the mysterious Arctic half-light.