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Monday, June 24, 2024

Journey into the Arctic Wilderness – DISCOVER STUDY ABROAD

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This session, I had the unimaginable alternative to enroll within the Arctic Ecology course at DIS, which has been nothing in need of awe-inspiring. The spotlight of this session was undoubtedly the examine tour to Svalbard, Norway, the place we ventured into the guts of the Arctic wilderness. Longyearbyen, the northernmost inhabited settlement in Svalbard, served as our base camp for an unforgettable journey.

The view from our boat on the primary day

The examine tour was meticulously designed to immerse us within the Arctic’s breathtaking magnificence and distinctive ecosystem. We launched into quite a few 8-hour hikes that led us by mesmerizing landscapes and allowed us to witness the gorgeous Arctic wilderness up shut. Together with these invigorating hikes, we had been handled to a number of boat excursions, granting us the chance to identify marvelous marine wildlife, together with walruses and beluga whales. The sight of those majestic creatures of their pure habitat was actually humbling and left an indelible mark on my thoughts.

On day one, we had the privilege of observing marine samples, appreciating the hen cliffs’ hanging formations, and exploring an deserted Russian settlement. Amidst the remnants of the previous, we stumbled upon a reindeer carcass, offering perception into the ecosystem’s intricacies. The varied flora we cataloged within the space additionally showcased the fragile steadiness of life within the Arctic.

Our Professor Peter Gravlund Nielsen organising excessive energy binoculars (Day 1)
A number of the flora noticed on Svalbard (picture credit score Jacob Mull)

One other thrilling day introduced us head to head with a gaggle of inquisitive walruses throughout a hike to a chief location. Whereas we had been captivated by their presence, we made certain to take care of a quiet ambiance, respecting their pure setting. This encounter additionally provided a chance to gather bugs, together with fascinating copepods, contributing to our ecological research.

A group of seaweed and Copepods
We acquired to take our lunch break with the walruses!

Past walrus encounters, day 3 additionally included an ascent up a steep cliff to witness the astounding hen cliffs. Swarms of little auks stuffed the sky as they flew over our heads, making a surreal spectacle. An inquisitive male reindeer additionally approached our group, providing a glimpse of the Arctic’s unimaginable fauna. 

The reindeer got here up fairly near us however
the canine to the proper acquired very excited and they didn’t need to come nearer
Our river crossing (picture credit score Lia Cagnette)

We additionally needed to cross a river to get onto our hike, so off the footwear went and we crossed a reasonably speedy river with some half going up into our thighs. It was fairly refreshing and the rocks gave a pleasant therapeutic massage to our sore toes!

Some of the outstanding points of this examine tour was our exploration of a glacier and the invention of fossils from a tropical forest that thrived within the area 50-60 million years in the past. It was a testomony to the Arctic’s dynamic and ever-changing historical past. The glacier we had been on is just not a part of a nationwide park, so we had been in a position to take dwelling all of the fossils we discovered.

One of many fossils we discovered on the glacier(picture credit score Hunter Messick)

Evaluating this examine tour to my earlier one in Sweden, I seen some distinct variations in construction and focus. In Sweden, we had been constantly on the transfer, transferring places and inns each 1-2 days. Though this allowed us to cowl extra floor and expertise completely different cultural points, it did result in a extra hectic tempo. In distinction, our time in Svalbard was extra contained as a result of we solely stayed in a single resort, permitting for a deeper immersion into the Arctic’s pure wonders. Whereas the Swedish tour encompassed cultural experiences like Midsummer celebrations, the Svalbard journey centered on the pristine nature surrounding us. However we did have the chance to go to the Svalbard Museum, the place we discovered concerning the city’s historical past and the lives of the miners and trappers who as soon as inhabited the world. This go to added depth to our understanding of the area and its intriguing previous.

This Arctic Ecology course and examine tour have been transformative experiences. They’ve deepened my appreciation for the fragile steadiness of Arctic ecosystems and the unimaginable variations of its wildlife. As we conclude this session, I’m crammed with gratitude for the prospect to discover these distant and mesmerizing areas, and I carry with me a newfound sense of duty to guard and protect the Arctic’s distinctive setting for future generations to come back.

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