Friday, May 12, 2006

Whales!

I have just seen HUNDREDS of beluga whales swimming past the ice edge! Sorry I didn't get picture - was trying to film them. The lead (channel of water) is much much bigger now and you can see it as a dark wiggly line in the sky. They can tell if big ice is coming and about to hit the ice they're on by watching the sky too.


The whales make a 'phooo', 'phooo' noise every time they come up to breathe. This morning a HUGE bowhead whale passed by about 20 metres away. Apparently there are giant more than 100 year old ones which sound like a motor and make the ice vibrate. They are trying to catch a small bowhead. This evening it was politely suggested I come back to Barrow and have a shower. Ha ha. Was very nice to wash hair. Going back now with more propane. Barrow is melting and going all brown and slushy. I have been helping to cut bits off the ice and have to get water by hitting the mountains of multiyear ice with a pick axe and melting it in a pot. See below. Arms really hurt but it's loads of fun.


They are all being fantastically caring and keep asking me if I have cold feet. It's very important that you don't. If you start getting frostbite on your face or ears you are supposed to rub snot on it but I haven't needed to try that yet! Am still under pressure to get fatter. They chat in Inupiaq and translate some bits (forget arabic I want to learn that) and say I haven't felt real cold yet and it's much warmer now than it was in the 70's. The night shifts are so strange. I have lost all track of day and time because it's always light. Oh yes and met Carl (a giant hardcore hunter) and Craig (a whale biologist who sometimes does rescues) - they both seem pretty legendary. AND apparently if you stick a paddle in the water and hold it to your ear you can hear the whales singing! Will try it and send it if it works.

5 Comments:

Anonymous big sis said...

OH MY GOODNESS...how amazing!!! Could you put some film stills on the blog? Can you smell the whales breath that near? can we have some whale biologist factoids? (do I ask too many ?'s!)

Much love

8:48 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Phil said...

sounds very exciting, I found a link to the Vancouver Aquarium that might interest others. beluga cam Keep warm! and we will be watching for updates...

2:25 PM  
Blogger slummy mummy said...

so envious ... what an experience! write more when you can, i want to hear all about what the whales are like up close x x x

6:05 PM  
Blogger Ice Fairy said...

Going to see whale biologist tomorrow so will get some facts! I couldn't smell any shrimpy breath but know they aged one whale because they found stone harpoon in it... last year they saw a purple whale which freaked them out a bit. They are looking out for it again. xxx

3:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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6:58 PM  

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