Today we headed back out on the Sam Hearn for a 6 hour Hudson Bay tour. We were given survival suits (sometimes known as Gumby Suits) as we are headed out into open ocean and it is expected to be a bit chilly.
We hadn’t even made it out of the estuary before we saw another bear. This may or may not be the same bear that we saw chased out of town yesterday. He is on the other side of the river, but still close enough to smell the bacon we had for breakfast (they do have an amazing sense of smell).
As we left the bear we were inundated (again) with Beluga pods. There are over 3000 here right now. It was so awesome. They will leave Churchill at the end of August/beginning of September, so we are so lucky to be here right now when they are plentiful.
Then as we were 5 miles offshore headed to Hubbard Point we ran across this guy. Fresh off the pack ice and headed for land. Polar Bears can swim for 50+ miles with no issues at all. They have excellent flotation and literally can just bob along if they need a rest. Huge front paws propel them through the water and the hind legs are the rudders. A very efficient doggy paddle if you will.
We circled this 1500 pound bear who only sort of cared we were there. He was aware but not concerned. He did spin toward us for a good pose as we glided by.
Weirdly they even try to dive. They don’t get very far or very deep so we are not sure why they bother. Theories are to cool off completely, or to escape the maddening mosquitoes and horse flies – I believe we have mentioned them before?
We made it to Hubbard Point and hiked on the spit. We were greeted by a sik sik, a marmot-like rodent who dens there.
On the other side of the spit we saw Caribou tracks in the sand. Sarah said they looked recent. Turns out, very recent.
The ancient ice was at least a mile deep here. It literally squished the ground into the earth’s mantle. Now that the ice is gone, the earth is experiencing isostatic rebound, springing back to it’s original elevation – 100cm per year…straight up. This area is rarely visited by humans, even less so this year. So as we stood by the water we were likely the first humans to ever stand on this patch of the earth. So many cool things up here!!
The bugs were rather insane again. It is tundra after all. Thankfully it was time to head back to the boat and return for a very late dinner. On the way back we found some sea ice and took a nice close cruise by. The sea ice is frozen sea water but with much lower salinity than the water, as some of the salt is literally squeezed out during the freezing process. It is rare to see so much this far south in the summer.
All in all a very long but amazing day.