We saw our first polar bear mother and cub this morning – a true event. Knowing there was a bit of a dance party last night, the first mate gleefully banged on all of our doors first thing, with a whole "Christ – look at you. You wouldn't want to miss the polar bears now – WOULD YOU?" routine. Kind of funny, I guess. So out we went, and there they were. Standing in front of what used to be a seal, the cub with a virtual muzzle of blood. We're hoping to see some belugas tomorrow. They are absurd looking.
I had a bit of a "question your emotional involvement in this trip" moment today when one of the bottles on the main water sampling device – the rosette – "tripped" on the way down and broke 4 others. When told, I jumped up and screamed "you're kidding me!" at top volume. I was a history major, so this sort of outburst is rare. But the rosette is really the heart of the operation, and without water samples, practically no one on board can do their research. I don't want the scientists to be sad.
The ship got stuck in the ice today – kept backing up and trying to charge through. It was a bit like being on board some sort of frustrated and ultimately unsuccessful ram. We had a bit of a course change and continued on. It's kind of astonishing that even an 120 meter-long vessel with however many tons of steel, operating on all 5 engines, still can't overcome some of the toughest multi-year ice. It's a real testament to the fact that research can be done up here at all. The obstacles are sometimes insurmountable.