Polar Bears & That Dreaded Initiation Ceremony

(Steve Romaine)
BAFFIN BAY –- Today is the day. We can't avoid the crossing ceremony any longer, and is slated to happen this afternoon. If you don't hear back from us later this evening it's because we're recovering. Or locked in the brig or something more diabolical. (ATTENTION: PLEASE SEND IMMEDIATE HELP TO THE ARCTIC CIRCLE.) Chloe is grappling with the taunts of head shaving and whether it's all for real, I'm bracing for freezing temperatures since it takes place on the flight deck, and Mark seems to be gloating more than anything. (He already has short hair and fears no Fahrenheit.) All I can discern from my sources so far is that we'll get wet, but likely not with water. Um, yuck?

Yesterday was a long day's journey into night, but we got some great video and followed a science station from start to finish. It's not easy work, especially when it runs from 11:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. But the sun is always up, and there's always research or measurement to be done. We had some scenic views looking across to Baffin Island at the time, and saw firsthand the complete multi-disciplinary approach to this expedition. The folks onboard are gathering physical and biological data the whole way. And while we'd seen the science stations in piecemeal fashion before, the one last night was particularly epic and involved all facets of oceanographic study. (I did get a bit worried about my dad since I think he was up working for nearly 24 hours, and he does some very physical labor. But he's fine.)

Earlier Mark and I landed on another iceberg about 30 miles from the ship's position. Again, surreal. Also landed on an ice floe to interview world-renown Arctic scientist Eddy Carmack. Both Eddy and the pilot pegged the ice at about 10 feet thick, so easily enough density to support us all and the helicopter. As soon as the helicopter powered down, I was overcome with how quiet it was. Deafeningly quiet. There's really no silence like it. We saw some old polar bear tracks in the snow where we did the interview, and while we were flying back we heard over the radio there was a polar bear running and swimming near the ship. We missed seeing that one, but there'll be more. I hope. One of the scientists did get some good photos, which we'll upload.

My hours are really out of sync now, and I find myself napping less and occasionally eating meals outside the scheduled times. We've got a lot of work ahead to complete our climate change stories for the CBS Evening News, and it's closing in on the end of our time on the ship. (We'll be in Resolute for four days once we disembark.) But we're getting there, journalistically and geographically. Lots more to come. I just hope we survive the crossing ceremony to tell our tales…
  • Daniel Sieberg

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