Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The reason there is no permanent marker at the pole

We arrived at approximately 6:20 AM, went down on the ice at 9:00, and by the time we departed 8 hours later, had drifted more than 4 nautical miles.  This came as a surprise because it did not feel as though we were moving at all.  It is also why the North Pole never looks exactly the same, even from one hour to the next.  Sure, you'll see snow, ice and water.  But the landscape is always changing because of strong ocean currents. Which means when the next expedition lands, it may be many hundreds of miles from where we were today.

Note that the sea ice can move up to 20 miles a day, which works out to roughly 600 miles a month.  Amazing!

Passengers in the process of forming a traditional circle at the North Pole
It is a tradition for crew and passengers to form a circle at the pole, which we captured in photos and video from the upper deck.  Afterwards, they also formed a peace sign and the number 100, commemorating this historic journey.  After lunch aboard the ship, many passengers went on guided excursions that took us more than a half mile from our landing site.  As a precaution, armed Russian guards accompanied us, in case we encountered polar bears.  
Armed Russian guards on the lookout for polar bears
These are beautiful but dangerous animals, and on occasion have attacked humans.  Looking out at this frozen world, it's hard to imagine how anything can survive here, especially in winter.  But polar bears are perfectly adapted for this harsh environment.  More about these predators tomorrow.

Happy 4th to everyone!!