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Polar Arrow
First Science Phase ~ 15 May - 23 June 2004

Finally headed North to start some on-ice and under-ice research! The scenery is already starting to get interesting.

The Bow of the HEALY
(Photo by AETC Tolle)
One of the first creatures we saw was the Walrus.
(Photo by LT Hollinger)

May 16: Spent the day getting everything settled in. The science party set up all their experiments and tested all their gear. We did small boat ops to get a bag that had been left ashore.

May 17: First Science Station. We crossed north of the Arctic Circle today. Saw the first Polar Bear!

Polar Bear
Polar Bear
He's so cute, just wanna take him home
(Photo by LCDR Beale)
Polar Bears can really run
(Photo by LCDR Beale)

May 18: Flew the helo to Kotzubue, AK. If you weren't looking for it you'd never find it. Landed the helo after midnight, just a touch of icing, nothing to write home about.

Musk Oxen
Musk Oxen seen on the flight to Kotzube
(Photo by AETC Tolle)
Normally we brake for moose, but this one was moving too fast
(Photo by AETC Tolle)

Fish Camp
Ice Probe
Alaskan Fish Camp with ATVs, boats, canoes; Mr. Boullianne would LOVE this place!
(Photo by AETC Tolle)
Ice Early Warning System
(Photo by LT Hollinger)

May 19: Slept in to recover from the late flight ops. The ship asked for a ice recon flight, but the weather was too bad to launch once we'd rolled out.

May 20: Did the ice recon flight in the morning, very nice day to fly, considering.

May 21: Maintenance today, working on both aircraft and getting paperwork caught up.

May 22: Morning maintenance run and PM flight.

May 23: Flying looking for leads again. Saw a polar bear near his ice cave with a half eaten seal. Pretty cool. Well, not for the seal...

Polar Bear
Polar Bear Swimming
Grrr! Where'd my seal go now?
(Photo by LCDR Beale)
The REAL Polar Bear Club
(Photo by Rolf Gradinger, NSF)

May 24: Flying looking for leads again. There is really heavy ice in all directions, much of it is impacted multi-year ice. Some of the pressure ridges are over 50 feet tall. Notice the slight blue tint in all the pictures? That's because it's overcast all the time. The temps are right around freezing, a couple degrees either way depending on noontime or midnight time. There's no nighttime, the sun is always up. The science party put some people out on the ice, and the cutter sent them out with a "Bear Watch", better known as a big guy with a rifle.

Ice Party
The ship stops and lets the researchers onto the ice
(Photo by LCDR Beale)
Look how big those blocks of ice get. The Bear Watch is on the right. Note motorized ice auger.
(Photo by LCDR Beale)

Big Auger
Breaking Ice
Closeup of the auger. 27x SuperZoom rocks.
(Photo by LCDR Beale)
Big, thick, multiyear ice. The dark clouds on the horizon are actually white clouds reflecting the relative darkness of a patch of open water. They refer to it as "water sky" and use it to pick a course into the next lead.
(Photo by LCDR Beale)

May 25: Flying looking for leads again. Saw a 450kg polar bear devouring a seal. He was about 500 meters from the ship, but hidden behind a pressure ridge and only visible from the helicopter.

Nome Polar Arrow Ice Liberty

Updated on 6/3/04