Our Furthest Point North

Jun 13, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer


By now, good-morning bears seem to be the normal routine before breakfast! Certainly not a bad way to start the day: watching these powerful marine mammals clamber through their icy terrain. This morning’s polar bear got everyone out on deck, bundled up, with cameras at the ready. Meanwhile, ivory gulls, kittiwakes, and guillemots soared overhead. Crunching, slushing, and slicing through ice floes and pressure ridges, the National Geographic Explorer continued its way north. A white shroud of fog met the vast expanse of ice before us at our furthest northern waypoint: 81° 47’ N. The immense wall of white was surreal and all-encompassing as we gathered on the bow looking ahead.

Later, our beloved living legend, naturalist Tom Ritchie, gave a presentation about ice and its many forms in the lounge as we began to sail south once again. The more courageous among us, undeterred by the mere frigidity of the Arctic’s water and the surrounding sea ice, decided to fully immerse themselves in our polar plunge! Some staff even joined in on the physiological debauchery. Sailing ever further south towards Svalbard’s fjords, we enjoyed a presentation from naturalist Kasper Jaeger on the trappers of Svalbard and historical tales of polar bears and arctic foxes. Our junior photo instructor, Ian Strachan, knocked the day out of the park with an enlightening iPhone photography workshop. Looking back on our trip’s lively highlights while watching a preview of the trip’s video chronicle was like the cherry on top of another extraordinary day up here. But wait, the fun didn’t stop there! The infamous crew band, the Spice Boys, rocked everyone’s fluffy wool socks off with an incredible performance.

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About the Author

Caitlyn Webster

Undersea Specialist

Caitlyn grew up entranced by the sea. She first became SCUBA certified while in high school in southern California and found her true passion diving and studying marine life. After graduating from Cal Poly State University: San Luis Obispo with a degree in Biological Sciences and a concentration in Marine Science and Fisheries, she began her career in research diving operations and logistics. Through different universities and various opportunities, Caitlyn has been fortunate enough to travel to particularly remote parts of the world, sharing her enthusiasm for exploring the seas and marine conservation.

About the Photographer

Brett Garner

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

Brett is a photographer, marine biologist, and educator from California. He is happiest underwater with camera in hand working to inspire marine conservation. He has worked and traveled extensively throughout the Americas, Asia, Oceania, and the Middle East. His underwater work has taken him under the ice in Alaska and also through some of the world’s warmest seas. 

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