10 September, 1997

We started to travel south this afternoon and the ice is becoming more difficult to penetrate. When traveling on a ship in open water the motion can be very violent but the rhythm of the waves tends to be regular. If you're not prone to seasickness you can adjust to the movement of the ship. An icebreaker is a different story, if the boat hits hard ice, it stops and everything not tied down, flies forward. The noise is somewhat like being inside a barrel that it is being pounded with hammers. The scraping as the ice goes by the hull reminds me of a snowplow pushing its blade over dry pavement. I've taken to wearing earplugs.

The gulls, fulmars, and kitiwakes seem to appreciate our passage. Large blocks of ice are cracked and often inverted as the ship's hull forces it's way forward. When this happens, small arctic cod get tossed to the top of the ice by the turbulence. Small flocks of birds follow the wake of the ship and are quick to feed on the unfortunate fish. When the cod disappear so do the birds.

The cod are a keystone species in the arctic. They have been observed in schools of a billion individuals, providing a food source for birds, harp seals, ring seals, and whales. The ring seal, which is not a migratory mammal, has been a staple to the natives in this environment for the past 4000 years.

The gulls catch cod that are thrown onto the ice as the ship passes.

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