once a beach terrace but is now far from the current shoreline. The earth is slowly rebounding from when it was covered by ice. Svalbard's land, remember, was shaped by glacial activity.
This area used to be an important area for early hunters, and we saw a weathered trapper's cabin that had a decrepit beauty. We saw lots of piles of reindeer scat but only a few actual reindeer. I had hoped we would be approached by reindeer, for I have not yet had a close encounter.
So when we got back to the ship, word spread of a polar plunge. The platform would be set up off the port side of the ship, and all interested people could jump into the near-freezing water, while documented by the staff. This tropical teacher was not having it! I told Michael Nolan, I didn't think I could do it, "C'mon, he said, you are so game for things." I shook my head no. "But do it for your students!" Boy did he know what to say! I would take the proverbial plunge for my kids. I can't believe I was worried about getting my feet wet earlier!
Aimee had jumped in right before me, and she was wearing her GTF hat. As soon as she submerged, her hat shot up about five feet in the air! She got out of the water quickly and then noticed her hat. By this time, I had jumped in. As soon as I hit the water, I felt my chest tighten and the wind was knocked clean out of me. I surfaced and heard Aimee yell, "Get my hat!" I couldn't speak, but I thought, I am getting out of this water now! She had to jump into the water again to retrieve it. Ha! Ellen watched us from the deck, but I am so glad we did it. And that post-plunge hot chocolate was probably the best I've ever tasted.
This afternoon, as we cruised across Storfjorden, headed for the southernmost tip of Spitsbergen, Dr. Clarke gave a compelling lecture in the lounge. He made sure to distinguish between climate and weather at the start of his talk. Weather refers to short term conditions while climate reflects the long term average conditions for a region. Simply put: climate is what you expect, weather is what you get.
The effects of climate change in the Arctic are quite dramatic. Data presented indicated that the Arctic is warming rapidly, ice is forming later and melting faster, and the melting surface layer of the permafrost is getting deeper. I thought of the underweight polar bear we had seen. The glacier calving we witnessed. The tidewater glaciers with newly exposed land beneath them, evidence of retreating. This Arctic ecosystem is threatened, and I have a newfound sense of urgency to protect it. I have observed evidence of climate change in Hawaii and now more evidence on the other side of the world. Global change is truly an issue that connects us all. But combating it can, too!
It was difficult to get a great photograph, but the experience is unforgettable and, like many times on this voyage, I just tried to be fully present and enjoy the moment. I was one level up from the bow and it was fun to watch everyone move from port to starboard and back again, shutters clicking, as the whales silently repositioned themselves underwater.
On each Lindblad Expeditions voyage, an expert videographer shoots the amazing moments along the way and by the end of the expedition, presents a complete, edited short documentary VER. Talented artist and adventurer Brian Christensen joined us on our Svalbard expedition and created our VER. As I expected, he beautifully captured the stunning scenery, documented diverse wildlife, and conducted interviews with guests and naturalists.
Goodbye to another awesome day in Svalbard!
Read the Lindblad Naturalist Daily Expedition Report (DER) here.