Friday, May 12, 2006


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.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Going out again

The sky's all dark with watersky and there's been east winds and apparently opening up. Going out again tonight. Think it will probably be for longer. Will try and update soon. SO excited

Audio diary 2

Here's the link to the second installment.
  • Sound of the Ice Melting Audio 2