90 - 88.5 degrees N
This was pretty lazy day for us. We are returning back on our tracks and moving pretty fast through the ice. We watch the ice reform after being broken on our trip up to the North Pole. While we stop to set up the Zodiacs for our trip to Franz Joseph Land, the boat remains still and I can capture the patterns of the ice and snow.
Bill and I have interviewed our Captain, Dimitriy Lobusov, who has been captain of several icebreakers since 1993. We thought that he would be able to give us an account of the changes that have occurred in the ice pack over the past several years. He was not able to give an accurate answer because our vessel has not had a consistent schedule. This was the earliest in the year that 50 Years of Victory has ventured to the North Pole. Last year’s first trip began on June 20. However, during the rest of the year, this vessel travels through out the North East Passage and he has noticed that there is less ice now in the North East Passage than in the past.
Fabrice’s lecture, The World of Seabirds: Ecology and Conservation Issues, talks to the environmental threat of pollution and fishing with respect to the ocean. Sea birds depend on the ocean as a source of food. Thousands of Albatross are being killed every year because of line fishing.
The fisherman casts a long line with hundreds of hooks with bait in hopes of catching hundreds of Albatross. The hooks not only catch the fish but kill those that do not grab the bait. Both chemical and physical pollution affect fish. This pollution is transferred to seabirds that eat fish.
Sea birds eat what is on the surface of the ocean, whether it is a fish or a bottle cap. Fabrice showed us a photograph of an Albatross chick that had died. When scientists opened the stomach of the chick, they found hundreds of small pieces of plastic, including combs, bottle caps and even a lighter!
The Arctic Ocean is the smallest of the five oceans. It includes the Barents Sea, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, East Siberian Sea, and others. It receives a fresh water influx from many of the world’s largest rivers, especially those draining through Siberia. Most modern exploitation is for fish.
The depth of the ocean at the North Pole is 4261 meters and its ice may drift 20km per day. Extraction of hydrocarbons from below the sea bed is already a major industry and this activity is likely to increase. The North passage is regarded as Russian but there are disputes over Canadian rights over the Northwest passage.