At Sea, Eastern Coast of Greenland

Jun 20, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer

We spent the day making our way along the pack ice, far off the coast of East Greenland. Foggy early morning conditions did not allow us to search very deep into the ice, but conditions improved immensely by late morning, and we enjoyed nearly perfect conditions for the rest of the day. Many of us spent time on the aft deck, where we could sit or stand in the sun, away from the wind, and watch various birds following the ship.  

In the early afternoon, we could not resist the calling of the ice, so we put down the Zodiacs and offered cruises among the floes. Although the pack or drift ice here was all sea ice, various ice forms were composed of chunks thrown together by way of pressure ridges; these appeared similar to the bergy bits we encountered yesterday. One particularly attractive bergy bit had a nice arch, complete with hanging tooth-like icicles and polar bear footprints. A gentle swell system added much to enjoyment of the cruise, as the floes slowly rose and fell relative to each other and gave the whole ice-filled region a somewhat eerie feeling. 

Upon returning to the ship, the call went out for a Polar Plunge. Amazingly, there were plenty of guests willing or even wanting to take an outrageous swim in the frigid High Arctic waters. Actually, the word ‘swim’ is a misnomer, because people jumped into the water and got back out as fast as humanly possible. 

Just before dinner was served, we spotted a congregation of harp seals spread out and resting among ice floes. They were very tolerant of our presence, providing us with excellent photo opportunities. And, as if this were not enough, right after dinner, we caught sight of two blue whales.

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About the Author

Tom Ritchie


Tom is a zoologist and naturalist who has worked in the field of expedition cruising almost since its inception by Lars Lindblad.  Growing up near the Everglades allowed him to spend his youth exploring the swamps, marshes, forests, and reef systems of South Florida, a perfect training ground for his life with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic.

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