Friday, 8 July 2011

Aedes Impiger

Captain Arild Hårvild and King Neptune

Our perfect weather continues.  Clear sunny skies on a wind free day make for perfect cruising conditions.  The sea becomes one gigantic reflective surface.  Each iceberg is mirrored in the water.  We are now on the south bound part of our journey in Greenland.  We had a lot of distance to cover from Ukussisat to the glacier Eqip Sermia.  Our arrival at Eqip was not scheduled until 17:30.  That meant we had the entire day to enjoy these perfect cruising conditions.  
Lectures and briefings were scheduled throughout the day.  There was another opportunity to attend a lecture by our special guest lecturer former astronaut Claude Nicolier.
In the afternoon we had a visit from King Neptune.  He boarded Fram to collect his toll for crossing the Arctic Circle.  The price we had to pay was to be baptized with frigid Arctic water.  That's right.  Ice cold water poured right down the back of your neck.  King Neptune was well assisted by our Captain Arild Hårvild.
We arrived at Eqip as scheduled at 17:30.  Soon Polar Cirkel boats were whisking everyone to shore.  In the background we could hear constant rumblings and grumblings from the Glacier.  White thunder!  This was the most active we had ever seen the glacier.  Throughout the landing Eqip Sermia calved many times.  The larger calvings caused logistical problems at the landing site.  On several occasions large waves washed up the beach interrupting landing operations.  The largest of the waves washed another 10 metres up the beach while the sea rose between two and three metres.  It was impressive. Each time a major wave rolled in it would take ten minutes for the after shock waves to settle.
Walter and his female admirers (mosquitoes)
Once safely on shore everyone was enjoying the magnificent scenery.  Many people chose to hike up a large hill to enjoy the view from a high vantage point.
No matter where you went on shore you were followed by a host of female admirers.  Mosquitoes.  There were a lot of them!  We had prepared everyone in advance. Everyone was armed with spray or a mosquito hat.  Every week we get the question, "what do the mosquitoes feed on when we aren't here"?
First of all, it is only the females that are blood thirsty (no comment).  When a mosquito emerges from the pupa as an adult, the first thing it does is seek a mate.  The males can survive a few short days by feeding on nectar.  The females will also survive for awhile on nectar but with most species of mosquitoes the females need a protein blood meal to successfully develop their eggs after mating.  There are over 2500 species of mosquitoes in the world.  The females in the Arctic however can survive and develop their eggs without a blood meal.  However, if she gets the chance, a meal of blood is far preferred as the brood will be much larger and therefore more successful.   Their most common targets are Muskox and Caribou but they will happily latch onto any mammal. The species we most likely encounter are, Aedes impiger and A. nigripes.  So there you have it.
We all retuned to the ship by 21:00 to enjoy a really great bbq on the stern deck.
Now it is 23:15 and we are mosquito free as we continue to cruise through perfect weather and perfect scenery.