Today was our final day in Wrangel Island. After the rangers gave a presentation yesterday, about living in an isolated area with musk ox and polar bears as neighbours, we had a chance to visit their home at the ranger station. Luckily, the bay gave us some rest from the strong wind, and we could do a safe landing on the beach. The scenery was stunning, and we got to see the old hunter homes and the remains of what had once been an old Inuit community. Salmon was moving upstream in the braided river, and a Pomarine Jaeger caught an easy meal. The tundra vegetation on Wrangel Island is vast and very diverse, with around 400 distinct plant species. On the flat plateau south of the east to west trending Wrangel Island mountain range, the vegetation easily grows on the fluvial deposits around the ranger station. It has been an interesting and eventful visit to the rarely visited Wrangel Island, and we are now heading back towards the more civilized mainland again.
National Geographic Orion
It is a busy day this last day of our trip. However, just like every other morning of this trip, Helga our talented receptionist and musician serenaded us with her beautiful piano playing, drawing many of us to the lounge. We enjoyed a fabulous breakfast, once again. Our rental gear was collected just prior to Alex giving the disembarkation briefing, which brings the reality of our departure into clear relief. Outside the fog came and went revealing a vast sea then not much beyond the rails of our ship. Glaucous gulls and short-tailed shearwaters continue to be our travelling companions. This crossing of the Bering Sea could not have been any more smooth. A presentation about marine invasives and Pacific Ocean currents got minds engaged with the very waters we transit. Our photo team gave individual feedback to interested photographers. Soon everyone was sharing images and selecting their chosen few for the guest slide show. After lunch we set our clocks ahead an hour. Keeping track of the day and the time has been a challenge this trip. We have two September 15ths and lose two hours before the day is done. Tracey the hotel manager returned our passports and the hotel team provided an ice cream social which delighted everyone. Corey Arnold, our National Geographic photographer, presented images of Kivalina, an Alaskan whaling village, we saw with new understanding. This remote village continues to survive with strong family ties even when whaling has been scarce. All too soon it was cocktail hour and time for our slide show. WOW, we have some spectacular photographers on this trip but even more importantly, we have some stunning memories.