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Nunavut Canada Exped – Day 19

The biggest predators of the land are there. We Young Explorers could see eight polar bears during the Nunavut Expedition. That’s a lot and we can feel very lucky about it! All of us were impressed by the bears. They are very dangerous for humans and in great danger. That’s why we have to learn about their habits and take care about it.

The polar bears are very clever and strong. They are able to smell in a 50 kilometers range, swim 100 kilometers and walk over 80 kilometers a day. They can adapt to most situations. Today, with less and less sea ice and more and more rubbish along the coasts the white giants search in our trashes for some food to eat. That’s a big problem because they try to eat everything and the rubbish can contain chemical substances. Or when the polar bears eat plastic pieces like water bottles, oil bottles or canisters, the item can block or injure the stomach and he throught and kill them.

This morning we cleaned up a beach near Frobisher Bay. We found a big amount of garbbage, which made us all quite sad. It’s difficult to imagine how much more plastic junk there is in the world’s more frequented oceans. We found a white canister with many teeth marks of a polar bear in it. This is a memorable example how our environmental habits harm this wonderful animal. Just a piece of plastic bitten off as we saw it can kill an animal as majestic as the King of the Arctic.

Now, to save these beautiful animals, we have to act, together to make a difference. It’s an enormous project to clean the huge coasts of the Arctic but we have to think about it. We can recycle the rubbish and make of it the energy of tomorrow.

Blog writtn by Mikayla and Ansgar

I was woken up this morning by a bright orange light that lit up the deck of Pangaea where all us young explorers had spent the night. It was a sunrise you only see in paintings and magazines and it will stay in my memory for the rest of my life.

After a hearty breakfast of oatmeal we headed for shore with black plastic bags in hand. We were heart broken to find the coastline of this remote spot covered in all types of rubbish from all over the world. Plastic containers, lighters, fuel bottles, fishing net buoys, rope, deodorant cans and shampoo bottles scattered the rocky beach we walked along. Due to the oceans currents Greenland, America, Canada, Korea Russia and even Spain were contributors to this mess.

Finding this rubbish was a reality check for us. We have spent the past 3 weeks appreciating nature in its purest and untouched way and it was heart breaking to be reminded what an impact we as humans have. We managed to fill 4 black bags as well as 2 huge plastic boxes filled with fishing net buoys and to think that this was just a 100m bay kilometers away from any civilization.

We saw the teeth marks of a polar bear on one of the plastic containers we came across. Polar bears are very curious animals and will chew on and try and eat anything they come across. Unfortunately when this is plastic it gets chewed up and stuck in their throats choking them to death. The meters of rope that we found has probably already wrapped itself around the necks of seals, digging into their skin also causing a painful death. The clean up pointed out to us Young Explorers very clearly in what bad condition our oceans are.

Once we were finished cleaning up we set off for our last adventure of the expedition. We were going to cross the island that we were anchored next to. It was a 15km hike that took us just more than 5 hours. Once again the beauty of our surroundings took our breath away. The puzzling moraine, the magical lakes, the colourful lichen and the patterns in the seaweed, an environment we have had the privilege to get to know while on the expedition.

We all arrived back on the boat and we set sail in no time. We have been sailing since 16:30 and hopefully we will reach our night’s stop over destination soon. Tomorrow we will still have to cover about 50nm to Iqaluit. The sea has been a bit rough this evening, throwing us from one side of the boat to the other. It is very important to secure everything and to try and keep your balance!

As the expedition draws to an end I start reflecting on the past unbelievable 19 days. Not only have I gained a better knowledge of the Arctic environment, the Inuit culture and the other members of my team but also I have learnt so much about myself. I have felt what it is like to really live over the past 3 weeks and what it feels like to be truly alive. I am so grateful firstly to the Mike Horn team for giving me this opportunity and making me a part of this family. I am also grateful to my family and friends at home who have been with me throughout the expedition. It has been a life changing experience that will stay in my memory and in my heart for the rest of my life. – Mikayla

Our amazing expedition is about to be accomplished. The knowledge that we’ll have to leave this unique place and the special people hangs over me like a dark cloud. At the same time, though I leave Pangaea excited as I learned a lot about the fragile Arctic region, its people, opportunities and myself. On board of Pangaea we sailed together for more than 1800km, a distance that bonded us together as we lived in a confined space. I could explore some more weaknesses and strengths of mine. Some images like the 360 degree view of the top of a mountain, the Northern Lights or a swimming polar bear I will never forget. I and every single one of us is very fortunate and thankful for this opportunity given to us by the Mike Horn team and the sponsors. I’d Like to finish with one Mike’s many quotes: We spent three weeks on Baffin Island not only to experience Nature’s beauty, but to open our minds.”- Ansgar

Blog by Henko Roukema

Last night after we had a talk with the team as the expedition, that has been a great success, draws closer to its end. Reflecting back on the previous weeks that has been handwork with the ultimate results, hiking over a glacier feeling so remote, climbing up a 200meter vertical wall, hiking up to the summit of a virgin peak in snow, sleeping under the night sky on our canyoneering excursion , it is so difficult to describe the emotions that go with all these mind altering events that will certainly leave a life long impression on me, not only was it a exceptional time to see this land but also the time spent getting to know your true self!

After our talk with Mike and the team, Mike told us if we want to we can sleep outside on the deck, knowing that it would be cold, all of us still jumped at the opportunity, it is strange how crisp and clear the stars shine with the milky way in all its glory with the Aurora lights shining, we even saw a couple of shooting stars but one stood out above the rest! As it went over our heads we just saw this blue colored ball and red flames behind it! It all felt magical as we drifted off to dreamland for a goodnight sleep knowing that we will wake up in another dreamland, every night felt like the evening before Christmas as a small child who simply can not wait to get his presents the next day!

Everyday is a gift that we receive on this beautiful planet! The plan for the day was to get up early and then go to a nearby beach and pick up all the garbage that the tide and the currents have brought in, then hike 15km across the island and meet up with the Pangaea there where we will start our final leg of the expedition sailing to Iqualuit. The most common objects we found was plastic bottles, old fishing nets and the plastic or aluminum balls that are used to drift the nets when they are using long line fishing. The garbage mostly drift all the way from Greenland as by law you are not aloud to fish by Baffin island as it is reserved for the Inuit to live off the land. With the help of the small rubber duck we got all the garbage to the Pangaea where we will take it to Iqualuit.

Then our hike started across the island with a steep rise, it was a different experience as we are now further South with mostly soft tundra and rocks with the most beautiful freshwater lakes with some very big trout, later the day as the landscape flattened out there was a few swampy areas, with us all tip toeing over the small rocks in a attempt to keep our hiking boots dry. It was really a great way to connect with each other while walking having some lengthy discussions about the future and sharing ideas that we have. Some interesting findings we had to day were a scull of a walrus, the horns of a caribou and the scull of an arctic fox. It was quit a daunting task getting to the boat as the extreme low tide that they have here was at its lowest, it drops by a few meters and we had to walk over the slippery rocks covered by seaweed causing some falls and minor cuts and bruises but we all got back to the boat safely!

Tonight we are sailing to a way point where we will drop anchor as the maps havenít been chartered properly in this remote area, so we will avoid navigating at night as there are many small islands and shallow rocks in the Forbisher bay area. Tomorrow we will arrive at Iqualuit if all goes well, which I am sure it will.



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