Exploring the Arctic: Parks, the Erebus, and Snorkelling

Even with modern technology, travelling through the Northwest Passage is challenging. Winds, fog, and ice will frustrate the most carefully made plans. Sir John Franklin lost his ships, crew, and life trying to find this elusive passage in the mid 1800’s.  This September, due to wind and sea ice, my group could not approach the site where Franklin’s ship, the Erebus, sank.

Second Visit to Qausuittuq NP

A few days after our stymied attempt to snorkel over the Erebus, we were able to stop and hike in Qausuittuq National Park. I was back on Bathurst Island for the second year in a row!  Unlike my visit to this park in July of last year, there was now already a dusting of snow on the ground, and the Peary caribou and muskox stayed far away from us.  We sailed on, westbound.

Sirmilik NP

When we arrived at Bylot Island in Sirmilik National Park, we found that our explorations were hindered by thick drifts of snow. Tenaciously we hiked through the stark landscape.  At Canada Point we came upon a polar bear den up high in a snowbank on the mountain cliffs.  We kept our distance, watching for, but not seeing the bears.


Around the other side of Bylot Island, near the hamlet of Pond Inlet, I finally got into the water. Donning a wetsuit, swim fins, mask and snorkel, I explored the underwater world of the Arctic.  Despite the snow and ice up above, the ocean was relatively warm and full of life!

Based on my experiences in the Northwest Passage this year, CBC News describes travel in the Canadian Arctic in “Snorkelling in icy waters and hiking remote terrain: Adventure tourism arrives in the vulnerable Arctic“.


  1. Elizabeth Crocket

    Fascinating stories and beautiful photography, Marlis! The yellow Arctic poppies are stunning…

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