East Greenland Glaciology
Gordon Hamilton and Leigh Stearns
June 22 to July 26, 2005
Gordon Hamilton     Leigh Stearns
Wendnesday, July 13, 2005
74°24.8'N, 14°47.6'W

Leigh Writes
In Transit

Another sunny day in Northern Greenland!! We're on our way to Kangerdlugsuaq to survey our next glacier. It'll probably take us about a week to get there, since we have to navigate through a fair amount of sea ice first. The exciting news is that today I saw my first polar bear!! There was a mother polar bear with her cub, walking, drinking and playing on the sea ice. They were ~1 mile from the ship, and could really only be seen through binoculars. The captain, who was navigating from the crow's nest, saw the mother hunting for a seal. Very exciting!!

Later in the day we saw a northern right whale. From a distance it just looked like two black humps, but as it got closer we could see the double blow holes and the characteristic arch behind it's head. These whales are extremely rare and were almost hunted to extinction.

've been reading about walruses lately; there were supposed to be lots of walruses near Zackenberg Station, but we didn't see any. There's something very endearing about their social patterns and big, clumsy appearance. The skin on their necks is over an inch thick, so they can't turn their heads very well. As a result their red eyes bulge out when they look at something, making them look terrified and awe-struck. They are incredibly social animals, nearly always occurring in groups. The Greenland guidebook says that they are "not afraid of body contact" and will snuggle close to each other to keep warm. In addition they snore very loudly when they sleep. Imagine a whole pile of loudly snoring walruses basking in the sun! Walruses usually eat items from the sea bottom - mostly clams, squid and sea urchin. On occasion they'll eat seals (by literally hugging them to death!) and rarely, polar bears. Unfortunately, we left walrus-country yesterday so my chances of seeing a heap of snoring walruses on this trip is not likely.

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