Expeditions 006 to 010

ArcticEarth SOUTH– After last winter’s decision to position the boat in the outer ranges of the Gulf of Maine in 2023, we set to it in June, with the first of four purpose-driven collaborative expeditions. All four trips allowed opportunities to connect the narrative dots within the larger bio-region of the northwest Atlantic (Maine to Greenland and Canada) that we call home. In 8 months, we will return to the NORTH, exploring both the west and east coasts of Greenland. 

See below for a flavor of some of our 2023 trips, including new video from Expedition 008! 

It is the night before Hurricane Lee. ArcticEarth Mate Eva Griffiths stands with Wyatt McDermott. We are the only boat in a small harbor, with 400 feet of chain and a honking big Rochna anchor sunk into the muddy bottom.

Hurricane Lee. I sit to write this in the pilothouse of ArcticEarth, comfortably snug at anchor on the west shore of Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada. What was a Category 5 Hurricane Lee just a few days ago is now a sub-tropical blow, with 40 knots of wind and gusts of 60 knots. Nearby on Grand Manan, a 77mph gust was recorded an hour ago. We’ve had almost a week to get to know Lee. Perhaps (he) feels more personable as a result?

15-SEC VIDEO.  Hurricane Lee must be wondering… “why is there so much energy available to scoop up this year from the Gulf of Maine?” A hungry Lee, now very well fed from this fast-warming water body, stumbles off to cooler waters where old storms long-in-the-tooth nap, dwindle, and die.

2023 Expedition Reports

JUNE Expedition 006. Our goal is to spend 7-8 days and nights adrift on the high seas, above a sea mount on Cashes Ledge, to support a PBS film crew.

ArcticEarth is on station 89 nautical miles offshore, in convoy with the research vessel Connecticut.

Ammen Rock is not really a rock, in the sense that most mariners understand. This rock is the summit of a mountain that stands 600 feet above the plain below, protected from commercial trawling for decades. Scientist Jon Witman led the last science group here, about 7 years ago. A lot can happen in 7 years. Prior to the first dive, there are questions: will there be less kelp on the mountain top? less fish? 

Gareth Lawson watches closely (Senior Scientist, Conservation Law Foundation)
l to r. Jon Witman (Brown University), Elizabeth Kintzing (UNH), Doug Rasher (Bigelow)

Notably featured in front of the camera is National Geographic photographer & producer Brian Skerry, a longtime observer and recorder of change in these waters. After the first flatwater day, the diving scientists and filmmakers had a few immediate and surprising findings. I will not give away what was found, but be assured that this will be an excellent 3-part film series on the Gulf of Maine! 

A Wilson's storm petrel.
A 25-foot long basking shark.

AUGUST Expedition 008. Our collaboration with the Ocean Genome Atlas Project (OGAP) grows deeper, with our second trip to the high seas this summer. Neuroscientist Leonid Moroz and co-Founder Peter Molnar (with Peter’s multi-talented son Gabe) have a goal, to explore the range of life’s alternative designs. They are collecting and observing ctenophores, a radically distinct form of marine life at the base of Kingdom Anamalia. See the Expedition 008 video! Through his compelling papers in the Journal NATURE, Leonid shares evidence for how these simple ctenophores are helping us organize and expand human understanding of life’s neural networks, and much more. One of the most promising ctenophores is in Greenland -on the search list for OGAP when they next join ArcticEarth in 2024!

Leonid Moroz in ArcticEarth's ample cockpit.
Co-Founder Peter Molnar at helm.
Gabe Molnar, neuroscience student and writer.
Ctenophore samples.

Expedition 008 VIDEO: The Ocean Genome Atlas Project onboard ArcticEarth. The footprint of Maine’s intensive monoculture perhaps destined that our first plankton tows in the Gulf of Maine yield larval lobsters. And they did. Then came the ctenophores!

AUGUST and SEPTEMBER Expedition 010. A group of three dynamic and creative writers from the Vermont College of Fine Arts joined ArcticEarth en route to the Canadian border, led by VCFA President Leslie Ward. Their goal is to get a sense of the vessel and the Gulf of Maine, prior to a trip with us to Greenland in 2024.

ArcticEarth Mate (and glacial geologist) Eva Griffiths starts to lay out an evening meal with friends from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Award-winning Barbara Hurd is author of The Epilogues: Afterwords on the Planet, of which one of my favorite philosophers Kathleen Dean Moore wrote: “the first book I have found that offers beauty to match the wonder of the vanishing world, comfort equal to our anguish, and wisdom worthy of the questions we face.” Mary-Kim Arnold is author of Litany for the Long Moment, The Fish and the Dove, and a collection of poems.

Barbara records a few notes with Phoebe Jekielek, Lead Scientist at the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership
Mary-Kim and Leslie listen to the sea via a hydrophone 10 feet below the surface.
At what scale is the vision of a single scallop... with over 100 eyes?

Discoveries & Arrivals

ArcticEarth Captain Magnus Day and Mate Julia Prinselaar spent 2023 in the South Pacific on their boat Baltazar. (photo: S. Curle) Magnus reports of a swim in Tonga with mother & child humpback whales:

“Sounds are never-ending. Brought tears to my eyes. Which is weird in a dive mask.”

I am looking forward to Magnus and Julia’s return to Maine at the beginning of April for the 2024 ArcticEarth NORTH season!

Schooner Bowdoin VIDEO. On July 26, former Bowdoin Captain Andy Chase spoke with 95-year old Steve Chandler about his life on the arctic schooner Bowdoin during a 1946 trip to Nain, Labrador with Captain Donald MacMillan, his wife Miriam, adopted daughter Helga, and a few scientists and supporters. This past summer, the current Captain Alex Peacock blogged about the Bowdoin’s 2023 trip to Labrador. Next year, ArcticEarth hopes to join the Bowdoin somewhere in Greenland on its 100th anniversary sail to the Arctic! 

Paul Mayewski and the Climate Change Institute of the University of Maine will again be our first Greenland charter of the year in 2024, bringing along some new water sampling techniques for their multi-year project on the west coast of Greenland with ArcticEarth.  Paul delivered the opening talk at The Explorer’s Club in New York last month.

Lastly, an update on the Hurricane Island Field Research Station.  Almost there! Awaiting first floor walls and siding. The carbon negative project from OPAL uses CLT and wood fiber insulation. A Compass Light / Lewis Family Foundation film about TimberHP is in production.