In the early hours of the morning, we enjoyed calm waters, gray skies overhead, and rolling banks of patchy fog. The fog cleared at times, allowing us to see farther and therefore affording us better chances of spotting wildlife.
The morning wakeup call came, and we all headed to the dining room for some sustenance and coffee. As we neared the end of breakfast, we received an announcement that two polar bears had been sighted. We gathered our warm gear, cameras, and binoculars. We silently made our way to the open decks, where we were treated to one of the great experiences in the Arctic. On an ice floe close to the ship, we enjoyed great views of a mother and a large cub on a slab of sea ice. They were certainly aware of our presence and often raised their heads to smell the air. After some time, they headed into the water and swam off. At times, it seemed they might clamber on top of another piece of sea ice, but it was not to be. Nevertheless, we were all able to appreciate what powerful swimmers these remarkable bears are.
Moments after making the decision to leave these two bears, we received a second announcement that another swimming bear had been sighted. There he was! It was believed to be a young male, and he popped out of the water and climbed on a piece of sea ice, dripping wet. A good, vigorous shake soon got rid of the excess water, and then he headed off across the ice. He jumped into the water and swam off in the distance.
Three bears before 9:30 in the morning! Incredible.
As the morning progressed, we saw a number of seabirds, mostly northern fulmars and occasional gulls. Then we came upon huge flocks of little auks. No doubt these birds had found rich feeding areas and were feasting on copepods, their favorite food.
At one point, we were treated to a fogbow.
During the rest of the day, we had opportunities to listen to a number of presentations, which included one on AECO. We learned how to enjoy our excursions in this remote place, and most importantly, we learned more about polar bear safety.
The ship sailed through ice floes all day. Each change in the weather offered new ways to soak in this incredible icescape. Different versions of light and shadows from clouds played on the various shapes and sizes of ice.
After dinner, the clouds gave way to sunshine. Most of us stayed up until the sun set below the horizon, and we enjoyed a palette of gorgeous colors all around the ship. What a marvelous way to end this day crossing the Davis Strait.