Changing Planet

Franz Josef Land Expedition: Settling In

Nathan Lefevre, assembles the rebreathers for our global dive team. (Photo by Manu San Felix)

National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala is setting off to explore Franz Josef Land, one of the most remote archipelagos in the world, only 900 km from the North Pole. Home to polar bears, whales, seals and more, the team will investigate how global warming may be affecting this crucial ecosystem in ways we still do not fully comprehend.  Follow his adventures throughout the month. 

By Lucie McNeil, Expedition Team Member

As the Polaris steams north, marshaled closely by a gregarious gaggle of seabirds, we hustle neatly into on-board prep tasks, and getting to know each other’s science and media teams amidst the hubbub of language obstacles (and hilarious misunderstandings).

The ship’s library is already up and running, shelves stacked with pre-trip research pulled from the first Norwegian, Austro-Hungarian, British, Italian, American and Russian expeditions from the late1800s and early 1900s, to aid our historical reconstructions. Our colleagues from the Russian Arctic National Park have provided us with the most beautiful maps and summaries from the Russian Geographical Society.

The bar becomes the reading-come-kit-stash room, a haven for those of us dozy with seasickness tablets to devour books, nap and start again. And the ship’s former hair salon is now stuffed to the brim not with cans of hair spray and mousse, but canisters of CO2 absorbent, for the diving rebreathers; when we exhale CO2 using rebreathers, the canister simply scrubs it out. With the salon now clear, we have executively decided to take it in turns to be ship’s hairdresser should the need arise in a month’s time, with a secret prize for anyone who can prise Enric’s ponytail from him…

NEXT: Read All Franz Josef Land 2013 Blog Posts


The Pristine Seas: Franz Josef Land expedition is sponsored by Blancpain and Davidoff Cool Water. 

Marine ecologist Dr. Enric Sala is a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence who combines science, exploration and media to help restore marine life. Sala’s scientific publications are used for conservation efforts such as the creation of marine protected areas. 2005 Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, 2006 Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, 2008 Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum.

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