As we began our second to last day in the ice, we woke up to a beautiful sunny morning with almost no wind. Zodiac cruises were on the agenda, and off to our Zodiac chariots we went, eager to see what wildlife awaited us out on the ice. The Zodiacs took off, nimbly navigating the ice with each driver setting off in a different direction. Once we had some distance from the ship, we turned off the engine and just listened to the harmonics of the icy world around us. Slow drips of melting ice could be heard, as well as the soft snap, crackle, and pop of ice breaking down.
Our silence was rewarded with our discovery of a beautiful, basking bearded seal. The namesake whiskers were on full display, backlit by some wonderful sunshine. Those whiskers do more than just make the bearded seal look cute. They serve an essential purpose in assisting seals while they forage for food. Highly sensitized, the whiskers help seals identify food when digging through muddy bottoms with diminished visibility. After we parted ways with our bearded seal friend, we got the call that not only was hot chocolate awaiting us farther in on the ice floe, but there was even a chance to walk on the ice!
We zoomed over to a large piece of ice where Hotel Director Laura and Chief Bartender Derek had set up a lovely beverage station. Hot cocoa galore, along with the possibility of adding a nip of Baileys or Kahlua, if you so pleased! The ice was stunning with multiple freshwater pools of a turquoise hue. As snowballs were thrown and snow angels made, a memorable experience was had by all. A call came over the radio from Captain Martin. Fog was rolling in, and we were needed back at the ship. Never a dull moment aboard National Geographic Resolution!
Photographers: Dan Odess, Naturalist, and Cammy Lachesnez, Assistant Expedition Leader