Walrus Hunt…160 characters at a time

Hi readers. This is Joanna, Randall’s other half.

Randall and I have tried out a new trick for posting his updates this week. Where he is, he has no internet connectivity. He can, however, text me messages. 160 characters at a time.

So here’s his post. Texted to me, then pulled together, for you.

Arctic Tern and her three charges are anchored Cummings Inlet for the third day, this due to pack ice, which is holding hostage our fuel depot, Arctic Bay. Our second choice for fuel, a town called Resolute, seems nearly clear, but heavy pack ice blocks eastern Lancaster, baring our approach. To a small boat pack ice is essentially floating rocks, and even a strong steel boat like this can only make way in very light ice concentrations. So, for the moment we have to be prudent explorers. Ice conditions have improved greatly since we arrived from Greenland, but we must be patient, and more patient we must wait here, which is dull work.

Now, I’ll admit that yesterday’s excursion ashore to sneak up on the local herd of Walruses from behind and shoot them with our cameras had its moments of excitement. Either we are less smelly than I thought or Walruses are terribly short sighted, because our approach was roundly ignored. Even the warning scream of Icelandic Gulls failed to rouse these beasts from their afternoon slumber. Walruses eat clams which must live in incredible numbers up bay, because not a single of the herd of 50 looked like it could, or should, eat even one more. When one did roll over, its movements suggested it was made up entirely of fat. Our book says that Walruses can eat for several days non-stop, and one killed for science (as noted in our book) had 700 clams in its stomach. Of course, life is not all feasting for Walruses. They live the winter on the pack ice where “room temperature” is consistently well below freezing, in which case their assiduously developed summer blubber comes in quite handy.

I think Les and Ali took well on 300 pictures in 30 minutes during which time we observed much belching, yawning, wheezing, whooozshing (this appeared to be an attempt at sleep-whistling: fail), whisker twitching, lots and lots of sleeping, and nothing else as to “nothing else,” this does seem to be our lot of late too, because that excursion aside, we are very much boat bound here on Arctic Tern.

Rain today. All of us stuck in the cabin. Ali let me bake bread yesterday. Today I got to make Curry. Beyond that it’s just reading, writing and waiting for the next day’s ice report. It’s actually quite dull. But this too is part of the romance of expeditioning.


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