Next stop as we headed down the coast of Baffin Island was Isabella Bay. That morning Beth went to the lounge on the top deck to get a coffee.  All of a sudden she came running back into our room – there were no locks on any of the doors- yelling “Gyrfancon, Gyrfalcon.”  We rushed out the door at the end of our hallway, looked up, and there was a beautiful Light Morph Gyrfalcon gliding along right over our heads.  It had an obvious full crop so must have caught a small seabird quite recently. It coasted along above us for several minutes then peeled off and disappeared.  What a magnificent species.

looking back towards Isabella Bay Isabella Bay is, again, drop dead beautiful and is home of the Ninginganiq National Wildlife Area.  This NWA was established in 2010 and encompasses almost 1000 square miles of the bay, its shoreline and out to 12 nautical miles offshore.  It was established as a sanctuary for seabirds, Bowhead Whales and other sea mammals.  Bowhead Whales are called Right Whales in much of the world because they were the “right” whale to hunt in the 1800s.  As many as 100 Bowheads have been counted in Isabella Bay at one time.

Caption: Looking back towards Isabella Bay. Photo Justin Peter.

Kayakers explore the shoreWe saw a small pod on our way into the bay but, like the Narwhal, they were some distance away and did not rise out of the water very far.  Seas and wind were calm so we suited up and climbed into the zodiacs.  This was the only time Beth and I were in different zodiacs and I wish I had been able to go with her. While the area is a sanctuary, the whales don’t know that but they sure know that boat motors are bad news. As soon as the zodiacs hit the water all whales disappeared.  Beth’s zodiac motored over to where one was last seen and cut engine. Sure enough, up came a whale, very near her vessel.  She got a great look; I got distant glimpses. Lucky Beth!

Caption: Kayakers heading out to explore the shore.  Photo: Justin Peter.

Our tour had a permit to travel in the waterway but not to go ashore.  A park Service aircraft actually flew around over us for several minutes to ensure we played by the rules.

Caption lleft: Being checked out by Canada Parks. Photo by Justin Peter.

The zodiac I was in “circumnavigated” an iceberg, travelled fairly close to the gravelly shore for a while then chugged around looking for sea life.  On shore we saw flocks of both Canada and Greater Snow Geese and a Polar Bear.  In the water we saw flocks of Thick-billed Murre, Black Guillemot and King Eider as well as Sabine’s and Glaucous Gulls.

Caption: Up close and personal with a small iceberg. Photo by Justin Peter.

We were back aboard the Vavilov for lunch and headed back to Baffin Bay and south. We had our usual excellent speakers in the afternoon in moderately rough seas.  Wave action became rougher as the day progressed and the boat was really rocking by bedtime.

Beth and I were both fine, but there were a lot fewer barf bags in the hallways next morning.