Thanks for contacting us!

Wednesday 2015-09-02 evening
InReach Messages

We’d like to take a blog to thank some people and schools for the messages they’ve sent us. Our days can be pretty exhausting with the low temperatures, wind, occasional snow, and cold water, and we definitely get tired. The encouraging words and knowing that students are following our expedition makes all the work worth it.

“We are a kindergarten class from Bishop Noland Episcopal Day School in Lake Charles, LA. We are watching the map to see how far you have gone. Be careful.”
Thanks for following along with our journey. We hope you’re enjoying the blog posts and images and we look forward to sharing more with everyone when we get home.

“Good luck on your findings. My students and I in Weslaco, Texas will be following your journey. Safe travels.” Thank you for sharing in this expedition with us! We appreciate you taking the time to message us and be part of Elysium.

We would also like to take this blog to encourage schools, classes, teachers, education professionals, and essentially anyone who would like to be involved in Elysium while we’re traveling, to message us questions. We have a satellite unit capable of receiving messages of 160 characters or less and would enjoy getting questions that we can direct towards members of our Elysium team to answer via social media and/or this blog. Since we can only respond with 160 characters on our satellite unit, we will write longer and more in depth answers to your specific questions on FaceBook and our Elysium blog. If you’d like to do this, please follow the link below, click on “Message” and send us your questions! If you are representing a school, please include the name of your institution, or if you are a person, use the name you would like to be called on our response.

Thanks for being part of Elysium Epic and we look forward to more messages and questions soon!

To the pack ice!

Thursday 2015-09-03 morning

We spent several hours yesterday sailing north.  FAR north.  We resumed our northerly course around 0630 this morning and we are looking for polar bears and pack ice.  It is possible that we are taking this ship, the Polar Pioneer, further north than it has ever been before.

For everyone’s safety, there will be no snorkeling and no diving today.  We will all go on deck this morning to spend some time looking for polar bears, whales, and birds.  We would like to go on the pack ice today for some exploration, if it is stable enough.  Alternatively, depending on ice conditions, we may get into zodiacs to cruise among the ice floes!

And here are some of the results of the second plankton tow from yesterday - lots of copepods and a few larvaceans and more, photo credit: Gwen K. Noda

2015-09-02 second plankton tow150902223101076

Eighty One degrees

Wednesday 2015-09-02 afternoon

We are now at the northern most point of our trip so far – eighty-one degrees –  the Seven Islands Group. We steamed to the south side of Phipps Island (Phippsoya) to a desolate bay and nature has greeted us with walrus galore in the water. They look so comical bobbing up and down in turn, approaching the boat with child-like curiosity – then turning over and disappearing with a wave of their rear flippers. The decision was made not to land, but to cruise along the shoreline as close as we could – pole cameras at the ready to get that much sought after shot of walrus underwater. We listened to the scientist Cabell Davis about the geology and the habits of the residents of this dreary but wildly beautiful place. Everyone wanted to keep exploring despite the wind and snow and are we glad we did. A POLAR BEAR was spotted walking along the beach! It was from a considerable distance and those with long lenses got a reasonable shot of what looked like a female – alone and looking a little on the light side weight-wise. You could not imagine where she would get her food – the walrus, once grown, is too tough. It would have to be the calves that would be on her menu. The guide got us as close as possible and then she lay down and it was explained she could stay there for days if she wanted to! Apparently they can swim 1000km but only if well-fed. With the weather closing in and fingers beginning to freeze, we headed back to the ship and a warm lunch before the swell of the ocean became too much. Back on board some of the girls were lining up for a sharpie pen “tattoo” of a walrus or a polar bear by one of our resident artists, Toby. We feel a little more connected to these amazing animals here at eighty-one degrees.

Photo credit: James Stone

James Stone 2.9.15-34

Seven Islands

Wednesday 2015-09-02 morning

Overnight we sailed to the Seven Islands group – the farthest north we have been so far.  We are near Phippsoya and we already have reports of walruses swimming around the ship this morning.  We don’t want to put any divers or snorkelers in the water for safety reasons - because of those walruses swimming around.  Our goal for the morning is to spend a few hours cruising around on zodiacs to see and photograph some of these juvenile walruses.  Some of the team have polecams (cameras with underwater housings that can be extended underwater from a small boat on a pole to take underwater shots - while staying dry!).  The other exciting bit of news is that on previous visits to this area by our guide team, there has been some good polar bear viewing.

Hopefully, there will be an opportunity for diving and snorkeling this afternoon!