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Greenland: Close Encounters of a Whale Kind

Submitted by Ken Nicol

9th August 2005

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Photograph of Greenland: Close Encounters of a Whale Kind

Three kayakers from the Thurso based Pentland Canoe Club have returned from a sea kayaking expedition in Southern Greenland. The members of the team were Shona Comrie of Portskerra; Simon Copsey and Ken Nicol, both of Halkirk. During their 12 day expedition they explored the coastline of the Nanortalik District in Southwest Greenland. The group was self sufficient for the entire trip and carried all necessities in their kayaks which included food, water, clothing and camping equipment. During the trip, which covered over 110 miles of coastline, they explored areas such as the Tasermiut and Torssuqaatoq Fjords. While paddling in the Torssuqaatoq Fjord the group paddled under what is believed to be the highest vertical sea cliff in the world at over 1400m (higher than Ben Nevis!).

A common sight during the trip were icebergs some of them many tens of metres high. These features although often beautiful represented a real danger due to their instability and were often witnessed breaking up and rolling over.

During the trip the group had a very close encounter with a whale which surfaced between two of the teams kayaks. The group had earlier heard the whale blowing in the distance as it surfaced for air but were very surprised when they got a view closer than they expected!

The group was also able to visit all the settlements in the area and experience first hand how these small communities live.

Simon Copsey said "to witness these communities first hand was a chance of a lifetime. Although the Inuit people have been influenced by western cultures and modernisms they still depend on the environment to sustain their survival through hunting and fishing. It was an awesome experience to exchange stories with the Inuit people who rarely meet outside visitors and who welcomed us into their villages."

The trip was assisted by UKAEA, Jacobs Babtie and YaK, a supplier of kayaking equipment, who all contributed safety equipment and clothing. Glenmore Lodge, the National Outdoor Centre at Aviemore also assisted the group with the trip by providing information on the area. The expedition was also helped locally by Niels Taekker Jepsen from the Nanortalik Tourism Service and Knud Faurschou of Frederiksdal.

 

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