May 25, 2019 - National Geographic Explorer

Today started with mostly clear blue skies and barely a breath of wind. Ideal conditions for kayaking in one of the best places for it: A lovely fjord with three small islets close together forming interesting channels, bays and coastline to explore. A gently falling tide also allowed guests to examine the marine life or navigate new channels. As a bonus, a dozen common seals followed the kayakers, interested in the new activity occurring in their fjord.

Other guests hiked into the birch forest to climb up the 200-foot elevation, following the rushing stream. The lack of a path made for an adventurous trek. Everyone came back with both shoes, so the guide evidently chose a wise path. And finally, for those who wanted a different perspective, there were Zodiac cruises to explore the coastline and islets.

In the afternoon, planned lectures were scrapped in favour of another series of landings and Zodiac cruises, thanks to a new area scouted by our diligent staff no later than four that morning. A ten-minute Zodiac ride took us to the end of the fjord to a meandering river with a surrounding floodplain. Here, guests could go hiking or just enjoy the local area, searching for bugs and plants near the landing.

In the afternoon, the dive team plunged into the fjord, bringing back fascinating underwater images. Fjords can be niche environments for species due to the high input of fresh water, resulting in lower salinity.

In the evening, National Geographic Explorer was due to cross the Arctic Circle. Russ had found a site where a small monument had been placed to mark the crossing point. At 10:30 p.m., we headed off for a quick evening landing to cross the Arctic Circle on foot and have a glass of mulled wine with ginger cookies to celebrate.

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About the Author

Peter Webster

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

Born in Scotland, Peter became fascinated with nature and wildlife from a very young age. This early interest led to him earning a degree in conservation biology followed shortly after by an M.Sc in marine and fisheries ecology. He is currently studying for another M.Sc in digital mapping. After working as a commercial diver for several years Peter was offered the position of Field Diving Officer with the British Antarctic Survey in 2012. He then spent the next 16 months in the Antarctic, stationed at Rothera Research Station, on the peninsula where he managed the dive operations and a team of scientific divers working on a wide range of research on climate change, ocean acidification, and increased seabed disturbance by icebergs. As well as diving Peter also spent several months in the Antarctic deep field working in aircraft operations, depot laying, and meteorological work whilst living in tents in conditions below -30oC. 

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