Monday 8 June 2015

A Musk-ox day

Yes it was! Today we visited Ivittuut, which is known to be  great location for Musk-ox. And it didn't disappoint! As we approached the abandoned US base we saw several groups of them in different placed along the shoreline and in the hills behind. The Musk-ox is the largest land mammal in the country (weighing up to 400 kilos) and is called Ummimak in Greenlandic, which means the "long-bearded one". They are native to the drier, colder parts of Greenland, for example northeast Greenland, and were introduced to the Kangerlussuaq first and from there into other parts of southern Greenland. They seem to be thriving in Ivittuut. One of the groups we saw had two beautiful calves. You can see one of them, second from left in this image:

Some of us walked up a valley from the buildings and discovered several small groups of Musk-ox and a herd of Reindeer!

Ivittuut was the former site of a cryolite mine. Cryolite is a rare mineral used in the making of aluminium. We found several pieces on the beach.

816- Ivigtut - cryolite.jpg

As mentioned above it was also the site of a US Army Post and Naval Base called Blue West 7. It closed in 1951. The Danes then established a modern base in the same location but moved to Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, last year. There is now a lot of talk about what will be done with the modern facilities at the site. Nothing is decided yet.