Over the years, Students on Ice has developed a very warm relationship with the people and community of Sisimiut. That warmth has been extended, to our great gratitude, to Arctic Tern and this year was no exception.
Earlier today, we found ourselves drifting with a pod of humpback whales. At least 20 of them dived around us, slow long breaths and flukes in the air. A flock of seabirds circled above, and a pack of seals sniffed us with curiosity – evidently there was a feeding frenzy happening beneath our boat. The surface was much more calm. We stopped the boat, and spent 30 minutes listening to the sounds of whale breaths, like creaking bellows.
This evening we arrived in Sisimiut, Greenland’s second city and “adventure travel hub”. As we slid into the cozy, historic harbour, we were overwhelmed the noises, smells, and sights of an active fishing plant. Local fishing boats were unloading their catch on the docks, and several Greenlanders shouted ‘welcome!’ to our boat. These boats are very charismatic – ancient wooden frames, as brightly coloured as the buildings, and more than half of them have harpoon guns installed on the bow, leftover from Sisimiut’s whaling days. Whaling as an industry has slowed down, but like in Canada, is still part of the indigenous subsistence economy.