Buchan Gulf, Baffin Island

Aug 24, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer

This was our first day of exploration in the Canadian Arctic, and everything came together in a way that we could only have dreamt of. During the early morning, National Geographic Explorer nosed into Icy Arm, a scenic, narrow fjord in the Buchan Gulf fjord system.

There, in the span of just a couple of hours, we spotted no fewer than four polar bears and a great number of narwhals. The first two bears were feeding on a fresh narwhal kill. Another adult bear was sleeping, and the fourth bear was walking along the shoreline until it stopped to drag the remains of a small whale out of the water.

On our way out of the fjord, several pods of killer whales were spotted. We observed these top predators of the ocean all around the ship, and some of them came very close. After lunch, we entered another narrow fjord slightly farther north. The surrounding lush, green hills seemed well-suited for hiking, and three staff were sent ashore to scout the area. Upon their return, they offered a number of hikes—long, medium, and short—as well as a photo hike with the photographers from National Geographic. We walked on soft tundra, which was covered with a wide variety of plants. The view from the upper slopes was spectacular.

After dinner, just as we exited the fjord, we spotted a few more groups of killer whales, and they put on a great show close by the ship for nearly an hour. What a smashing first day in the Canadian Arctic!

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About the Author

Carl Erik Kilander


Carl was born in Norway and received a master’s degree in forestry and nature conservation from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in 1973. His professional experience is mainly connected to environmental issues and natural resource management on the Norway mainland and in Svalbard. A major part of his professional experience comprises planning and management of protected areas, particularly in the southern parts of Norway and Svalbard. During the period 1999-2001 Carl was Head of the Environmental Department at the Governor of Svalbard´s office. He has also been District Manager (southwestern Norway) followed by the position of Senior Environmental Adviser at the Norwegian State Forest Service.

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