January and beginning of February has been stormy, a lot of snow and mild temperatures (!), almost to the extreme. Because of the storms, the ice was not yet able to form again since beginning of December in front of the local town Ittoqqortoormiit, and the local hunters were forced to use more boats when hunting than dogsledges. The weather conditions has really not been ideal for the local hunters, and they are talking about these last two months as very unusual conditions compared to previous years. We have really felt the winter storms, but luckily in our small bay, Amdrup Havn, the boat has managed well and we have had solid and thick ice since the first ice started to form in early October. The ice around the boat is now measured to be about 1.5 meter thick, at least!
In end of January / beginning of February we got our first visitor from “home”! Yvan did not exactly come with nice weather, but in return he came with good mood and his luggage full of stuff brought from France that were needed on board, both for the boat and for the people on board :)! In spite of that he was stuck at the airport for several days because of bad weather, both when arriving to Ittoq and when leaving, we had some really nice days together! After so many month just the two of us, it was great to have a friend to visit and to share the life in Amdrup Havn with us. The 29th of January we were able to see the first sun of the year while skiing over the mountain to Ittoq to pick up more equipment from scientists. After all this time with bad weather, it was so good to feel the sun on the face again :)
Konto and Kiniaq seem to enjoy living with us, and they are great help whenever we need to pull heavy pulks. We mainly feed them with dry food, but we have also managed to fish some polar cods – and they love it! Our friends Ruth and Ingkasi from Ittoq was so kind to give us some seal blubber, and this is of course important food for the dogs especially when the temperature gets colder.
February/March is the months were the polarbear is doing most of its tracking, so we always have to watch out for polarbears in the area. Just the other day we woke up to polarbear tracks only 50 meters from the boat, but fortunately it was just passing by. We have also seen one bear with two cubs out on the ice not too far from the boat. The polarbear hunt started the 1st of January, and the local hunters in this area have a quota of 35 polarbears in total per year. Up until now, as far as we know anyway..., the hunters have shot 8 polarbears. One of the polarbear was shot only about 1 km from our boat! Our hunter friends had set up a camp by the ice edge about 1 km from our boat, and woke us up one early morning to tell us about the bear and if we wanted to come and see. Of course we did! Not every day you get to see how they skin and cut up polarbear. By the time we got there, they have almost finished the job with the bear and more hunters had arrived to help. It was interesting to see how fast they were working with the animal, and how organized everything was. The shooter always keeps the skin and most of the meat; the rest of the meat gets distributed to the other hunters that help with the kill. For every polarbear that is shot, samples from the meat, from the different organs, and the head are sent to scientists for analyzing and report.
During the last two weeks, we finally have had some days with no wind and cold temperatures, and the ice is again now solid between our boat and Ittoq. This last two weeks has been like waking up from hibernation! Sun, blue sky, no wind and -20; this is how it’s suppose to be! For now, we only have about 3 hours of sun on the boat, but it is lasting longer and longer every day. In these conditions it is very nice to work outside, and we have been able to do a lot of sampling for scientists in fantastic weather!
Our fantastic igloo with window!