SOI Expedition

This September the Students on Ice Foundation set off on their Ocean Conservation Expedition. The expedition brought together experts, researchers, artists and indigenous youth aboard the icebreaker the Polar Prince, to build awareness and education around ocean conservation and the amazing ecosystems around the Bay of Fundy. Fundy Biosphere conservation manager Clarissa Hoffman was lucky enough to join the expedition for 4 days to share the story of our biosphere and the work being done to protect our unique ecology.

The first day began overcast and early at the Port of Saint John. After a quick tour and safety demonstration it was off to our first event. Port Saint John was showing a screening of the documentary “The Last of the Right Whales”, which documents the plight of the North Atlantic Right Whale, and what is being done to protect them. Danielle Dion, Senior naturalist and marine biologist with the Quoddy Link Marine Whale Watching Vessel, also joined to discuss the film, and offer updates on some of the featured whales. It was emotional to see and hear about the harm being done to these animals, but heartening to learn about the actions being taken by industry to reduce risks, right here in Canada. At the end of the evening we all convened in the hangar to discuss what we had learned that day, and discuss our plans for the next day. Each of us was also asked to share what the ocean means to us. Answers ranged from discovery and mystery to connection to relaxation; each person with a unique answer and their own unique region for being so passionate about ocean conservation.

On day 2 we visited the Minas Basin. Early in the morning we passed through the stunning cliffs of Cape Split, and witnessed the power of the tides as the ship was slowed to a crawl as it fought the current out of the Minas channel. We hopped on the zodiacs for a short ride over to a pebble beach at Scots Bay. Here we got to observe some interesting geological formations, and do a small beach cleanup. After a quick lunch back on the ship it was back out on the zodiacs. This time we went to Cape Blomidon, where we got to view the stunning cliffs, help the researchers from the Huntsman aquarium to gather samples for their DNA barcode library project, and some of the braver among us took a swim in the bay.

For the 3rd day we were back in the Fundy Biosphere Region! We started off the morning bright and early with a wet and wavy ride in the zodiac up the Point Wolfe River. We were all so lucky to be able to enter Fundy National Park from this unique perspective. We all disembarked at Point Wolfe beach. At this Fundy Biosphere Amazing Place we were able to witness the famous Fundy tides, as the water receded almost a kilometer from where we first parked the zodiacs. Parks Canada representatives then took us on a short hike, and shared about the ecology of the region, and some of their projects to protect it. Next we hopped back on the zodiacs, and the developing storm made for a very exciting ride back! Unfortunately the rough weather prevented us from making our next stop in the biosphere, Amazing Place Martin Head. Luckily for us some of the participants were able to come up with last minute games and presentations to keep us entertained and educated during our rainy afternoon on the ship. It was the last night aboard for many of us, so we stayed up late singing, dancing and playing games, which was a perfect ending for a trip so focused on connection.

Photos by Jenna Savoie-Joy