Days 1-4: Iqaluit, Nunavut

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Day 1: Iced in at Frobisher Bay

The Students on Ice expedition team, including scientists from the Canadian Museum of Nature, arrived in Iqaluit, Nunavut to find the harbour, Frobisher Bay, was covered in sea ice.  According to locals in the community this amount of sea ice during this time of the year had not been seen in over 50 years.  This proved to be problematic for the team as this was the location where the expedition vessel, the Akademik Ioffe, was set to pick everyone up to set sail on the two-week journey.

Choose a hotspot for an in-depth look at one of the fascinating things we learned in this location.


Day 2: Sylvia Grinnell Park

The team waited and hoped for a change in winds and the sea ice to shift. While waiting, the expedition team had a community barbeque at beautiful Sylvia Grinnell Park with many of Iqaluit’s leaders and elders attending.  Throat singing, country food and a hike to the nearby river made this one of the many highlights of the expedition.

Choose a hotspot for an in-depth look at one of the fascinating things we learned in this location.


Day 3: Low tide

The scientists and students were able to see the expedition vessel in the distance from the harbour, but there was a large blanket of ice that lay between them.  While the team continued to wait for a change in sea ice conditions, they explored the beautiful land surrounding Iqaluit, spotting different types of animals, plants and sea life.

Choose a hotspot for an in-depth look at one of the fascinating things we learned in this location.


Day 4: Coast Guard rescue

Thanks to the amazing efforts of the Canadian Coast Guard the expedition team made it to their vessel!  The Coast Guard used their ice-breaker vessel, the CCGS Des Groseilliers, to break through the ice in the harbour, leaving a trail for barges and Zodiacs to travel inland to pick up the expedition team. After this daring and exciting departure, the rest of the expedition was underway!

Choose a hotspot for an in-depth look at one of the fascinating things we learned in this location.

Days 1-4: Iqaluit, Nunavut

A photo showing sea ice, a small village and an inuksuk.
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The Akademik Ioffe

Due to the incredible amount of sea ice in Frobisher Bay, the Students on Ice expedition vessel, a Russian research vessel named Akademik Ioffe, was not able to get close enough to Iqaluit to pick up the students and scientists. The ice not only threatened the Students on Ice mission but also proved to be difficult for other ships delivering supplies to Iqaluit, and for local hunters attempting to get out to their camps.

An expedition ship.

Arctic hare habitat

This was the perfect habitat for the Arctic hare. They use this habitat to find food, then burrow themselves into the ground for shelter and for food. Vegetation in this area was rife with food for the hare, including Arctic willow trees, berries, leaves and grasses.

An Arctic hare sitting in grass.


Inuksuits mark the Arctic landscape and are a symbol of human presence. They are used as reference points for navigational purposes such as travel routes, fishing places, camps and hunting grounds. They also become important places for wildlife such as Arctic hares and birds. They are also places animals use to hide from intense winds and hungry predators.

An inuksuk.

Tufted fen-moss

The Arctic is covered in moss. Tufted fen-moss likes moist places and there were plenty of areas in Sylvia Grinnell Park for it to grow.

A close up of Tufted fen-moss.

Dwarf Fireweed

All of the above-ground parts of Dwarf Fireweed, from the leaves and flowers to its seeds, are edible and were traditionally eaten raw as well as cooked for nutrition and a variety of medicinal purposes.

A Dwarf Fireweed plant.

CCGS Des Groseilliers

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, the CCGS Des Groseilliers, was on duty in Frobisher Bay escorting vessels to get much needed supplies to Iqaluit. The Coast Guard are vital to many Arctic communities.

A Coast Guard ship in icy waters.


Barges like this one can break through the ice and travel to shore. They are used to provide life-saving medical supplies, food, and safety to ice-bound areas. In this case, they were used to get the team out of the harbour and on to the expedition ship.

Numerous people sitting in a barge in icy water.

Ice in the way

Sea ice in the harbour left the team stranded on shore. The only way to get through the sea ice was on barges. Their powerful motors can push ice like this out of the way. As the early explorers used to say, 'the fastest way through ice is around it.'

A ship travelling through sea ice.