Adventure Diaries: Greenland, Part 3
The 3rd and final instalment of Alex Ingle‘s expedition journal of his time out in Greenland. During the 3 weeks he documented research as part of a ‘CALVE‘ research project.
06.08.16 / Day Eleven
With yesterday’s experience a distant memory, today marks the start of my time with the marine team – and a steep change of pace from the previous week’s physical exertions. These guys are diving in very cold water, day in day out. So cold they have strict limits on the amount of diving they can do. Too much and their core temperatures wouldn’t have time to recover. Based in Nuuk, each day centres around single trips onto the water as the team collect algae and sponge samples. Today, however, is a much needed day to recover and recharge.
07.08.16 / Day Twelve
Today sees the first proper shoot with the marine team. The forecast is decent but, after my experience a couple of days ago, all my kit is double-bagged just in case. Thick haar envelops Nuuk, as it does most days. I cross fingers in hope it’ll burn off so I can get the drone in the sky. It doesn’t clear, and visibility in the fjord is pretty poor. The moisture in the fog is the biggest issue for the drone. I’d near enough given up hope for aerial shots that day. Right on cue, we pass through a wall of fog into bright blue skies further down the fjord. Calm, clear, very little wind. Perfect.
The team land me on a small island, and I prepare the drone. Compared to the terrestrial expedition, where battery power was finite, here I can recharge every day – so today I have four drone batteries at my disposal, giving me plenty of leeway to have a bit of fun. I get my first opportunity to see the marine guys in action from a glorious spot on the shore.
08.08.16 – 10.08.16 / Days Thirteen to Fifteen
After nailing the aerials yesterday, the rest of my time is spent shooting a mix of stills and videos. Each shoot is constrained to a narrow timeframe of an hour or two each day. The days fly by with this new routine. Loading up the boat, daily dives out in the fjord, then back to Nuuk and the labs at the institute – the time evaporates.
On day fifteen I speak to my 2-year-old son for the first time in nearly three weeks. While I’ve been in Greenland (and for a week beforehand), my partner Gabi (an archaeologist) has been on a dig in Georgia, and my son with his grandparents in Poland. Being scattered like this, with little or no phone/internet in the field (both here and in Georgia), contact is minimal. Today Gabi returns from the field to meet our boy in Krakow, Poland. Finally we’re able to have our long awaited Skype chat… a particular highlight for us all.
11.08.16 / Day Sixteen
Today we head back to Sandnaes for the final time to collect the last members of the terrestrial team. We’re up early to catch the tide. With the memories of last week’s extraction still fresh, we’re hoping for an uneventful day.
Thankfully, we get what we wished for. Glassy water, and beautiful conditions allowing me a chance to drive the boat for the first time. We reach Sandnæs in record time, greeted by the team on the shore. After loading up the gear, we head back towards Nuuk stopping off on dry land for lunch on the way. (and an impromptu aerial shoot using some driftwood as a launch pad…).
Back in Nuuk, Ejgil, a Danish biologist who’d been disappearing into the wild every week to study spiders, had hooked us up with a piece of reindeer from a local hunter. Tonight was an opportunity for a celebration, and, after weeks of field rations and desiccated supplies, barbequed reindeer was on the menu. Egil had the meat marinating overnight, and tended to it on the barbeque/BBQ while the science team caught up with each other.
12.08.16 – 13.08.16 / Days Seventeen and Eighteen
With the majority of our work now done, the final couple of days involved just one last trip out on the water and a final afternoon exploring Nuuk. We begin winding down and packing up, reflecting on a pretty epic trip and preparing for the journey home via Iceland over the next few days.
The sheer physical effort that a project like this involves, all for a handful of quality samples, is incredible. Undertaking field research takes real grit, determination and commitment – bringing with it stories, experiences and adventures which are all too easily lost by the time the science reaches the public; these are what I strive to capture through my work. With last summer’s Greenland assignment now a distant memory, I’m focussing on future expeditions which include my first trip down to Antarctica, research cruises around the Arctic, dive training for my first underwater work, and the most exciting (and challenging) of them all… the birth of our second child this summer! Here’s to adventures to come.