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"Land fast" Ice Rough Going

306196OFF BAFFIN ISLAND –- We've hit "land fast" ice, which means rough going and the possibility scientists may not get all the sampling stops they want. The ice here is not only thick it's connected (or "fastened") to the island coasts, so there's no wriggle room or openings to steer the ship through. It's just bump and grind, and the captain is also using the ship's "bubbler," which creates massive bubbles of air around the hull to help keep the ice from re-forming and break it up a bit. The ship has been shaking back and forth since late last night, and it'll likely be that way for the rest of the day.

The captain's supper was delicious last night, with five courses from Randy the head chef. He likes to write little descriptive notes about each course that the captain read before each one. Earlier in the day we did a few more interviews including ones with Eddy Carmack, a leading Arctic authority, and John Nelson, the chief scientist onboard. Eddy's experience is amazing, dating back nearly 40 years. When he first starting coming to the Arctic for research it often meant flying in with minimal equipment, drilling into the ice and taking measurements with a glass thermometer. Really puts this whole trip into perspective, and illustrates how the study of the Arctic tied to climate change is really in the nascent stages. At least with the technological capabilities (and Coast Guard ships) we have today. We'll have more of his interview in the stories for the CBS Evening News in August.

We've had several polar bear sightings now, and Mark was up early this morning to catch the latest one (on camera). It was a mother and cub, both feasting on the remains of a seal. Always amazing to see them; they're such graceful and majestic and powerful creatures. As Byron the chief officer put it to me: polar bears are truly at the top of the food chain here. We're just visitors. Dozens of seals have been spotted along the way, and hundreds if not thousands of Arctic birds. We may yet see musk ox when we fly towards the glacier area on Devon Island in the next day or so. For now, dinner calls…

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