Dundas Harbour & Croker Bay, Nunavut

Aug 28, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer

Devon Island is known as the world's largest uninhabited island. In the morning, Zodiacs ferried guests ashore to Dundas Harbour, the site of an old Royal Canadian Mounted Police outpost which was intermittently occupied from the 1920s to the 1950s. We inspected the derelict buildings and pondered the challenge that young, untested police officers faced when left by their supply ship to fend for themselves for a year or even more, if the ice prevented resupply the following summer. 

The light maintained a soft Arctic glow throughout the morning, adding a hint of gold to landscape photography. There was time to look down at animal scat (musk ox, perhaps caribou), across the hillside to hopping Artic hare, and up to a snowy owl perched on a high ridge. 

With guests back on board, National Geographic Explorer steamed on and then dropped anchor just in front of a glacier face in Croker Bay. Guests piled into Zodiacs for an even closer look. Motoring along the icy cliff of the glacier, or at times simply drifting with a silenced outboard, we observed other forms of life: a bearded seal on an ice floe; harp seals bouncing up and down with their porpoise-like swimming gait; and ringed seals, always on the lookout for polar bears.

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About the Author

David Cairns


David has spent most of his life on, over, or surrounded by water. Born and raised on Prince Edward Island on Canada's east coast, he pursued graduate and postdoctoral studies on seabirds on the remote fringes of eastern and Arctic Canada. He then took up a career in fisheries science which led him back to his natal island, where he is a research scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and an adjunct professor at several universities. As a marine biologist, David considers himself singularly lucky to be paid to snorkel through salmon pools, steer Zodiacs through bergy bits, look up at whales, measure writhing eels, scramble up a rocky ledge that Jacques Cartier's men scrambled up, sit still while a puffin unties his bootlaces, sleep among the ghosts of great auks, and discover things about the natural world that have never been known before. He likes to share his stories and passions with others, which is why he applied to join the Lindblad Expedition team.

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