On the Sea

Here is a glimpse of a truly wonderful boating trip we took in the third week of July to visit Kekerten Island, a National Historic Site commemorating a former whaling station.

Kekerten whaling station operated from the mid 1800's to the mid 1900's before it was abandoned, and a wonderful array of foundations and relics from that fascinating time are well preserved by the cold, dry environment. Blessed with one of the many beautiful, sunny and warm days we've been graced with this summer, we set off from Pangnirtung happy to be on the water. Our first stop, an iceberg which incidentally Markus visited back in March (see "The Iceberg"). Pretty beautiful up-close with water dripping off and splashing around the block of ice. Next we had the incredible luck of seeing a bowhead whale while en-route to Kekerten! We were thrilled, with people straining to see and cameras clicking. What a treat.

Kekerten Island was like a little haven and if it wasn't for the fact I was wearing pants and had a sweater handy, I could have been convinced in that moment we were actually tucked away in the Caribbean somewhere. The word Kekerten is actually an anglicism from the Inuktitut word "qikiqtaq" which means "island". This spot is a collection of islands, the largest being Kekerten, and the waters between were a dreamy blue-green and tempted me to swim.

On the island we were treated to an hour-long walking tour hosted by our guide, Joavee, who told us all about the interesting history of the island and the people who used to live and work there. It was from Kekerten that the Inuit were asked to find another location to build a village with space to expand in the future. They selected the site of Pangnirtung today. After our tour we had lunch and spent another 2hrs hiking on our own. It was really enjoyable.

At the end of the day we loaded back onto the boat. Relaxed and satisfied, we headed for home. What did our guide spot but another bowhead whale! Cameras clicking, we couldn't believe our luck! When the whale went on it's way, we were ever thrilled. Then, lo! Another two whales! And then, off to the left, another one! Then a pod of six! We were all so thrilled, in awe and excited. We sat back and suddenly realized that everywhere you looked the sea was dotted with little islands and the sounds and spray of breathing in every direction. We saw roughly twenty bowhead whales that day, as if we had discovered the magical, secret hide-away of these majestic, once nearly-extinct creatures. A treat it was! More photos to come soon.

Boating that day would have been thoroughly pleasurable without all the whale sightings, but it surely was the icing on the cake.