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The Elysium Icy Migration Project

11 July to 12 August 2014

The Arctic Summer – One of nature’s great events

The ocean between Greenland and Baffin Island is generally covered by sea ice.

The ice-covered artic sea is an incredibly productive eco system.

Bathed in 24 hours of sunshine, the ice breaks up for a brief period every summer kicking off one of nature’s great but little known migrations.

Bowhead whales, narwhals, belugas and other artic wildlife take advantage of the revelation of these new feeding grounds and follow the ice floe north as it breaks up.

Contrary to other whales giving birth in warmer waters, these 3 whales species give birth during the short arctic summer far north and come back to the same summering grounds year after year.

The heavy ice still in the area keeps them out of reach of predators such as Orcas.

An Ecosystem in Transformation

The Arctic Sea Ice extent has decreased drastically over the last 30 years.

In 2012, the extent was less that 50% of what it was in the 1980s.

This together with increased ocean acidity is altering the balance in this ecosystem and the wildlife that depends on it.


Anecdotal information suggests that the decreased ice cover has given Orcas access to previously safe artic whale breeding grounds, allowing them to feed on young whales and adults.

The Project

“Elysium Artic – the Icy Migration” is a landmark explorative artic expedition with the objective of creating awareness of an environment where climate change and its impacts on a little known but extraordinary ecosystem are clearly visible. 

The expedition leader is Ocean Geographic photographer in residence and award winning photographer Jorgen Rasmussen. Together with a small team of 5, he will attempt to photograph the migration of very rare arctic whales. In July/August 2014 during the brief arctic summer, the team will sail a yacht from Greenland to the high artic in Canada.

The team will publish a feature article in Ocean Geographic during 2014 sharing the observations and visual experiences.

Together with the 2015 “Artists for the Artic” project, this expedition will contribute to the overall Elysium Artic project. “Artists for the Artic” will explore the east coast of Greenland and Svalbard with an extraordinary team of photographers and explorers. Together the two expeditions will cover the arctic seas both east and west of Greenland. After the 2015 expedition, Elysium Arctic will culminate in a book, exhibition and documentary lead by Ocean Geographic director Michael AW.