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> May 22, 2006 – Land of the Midnight Sun, On Sunsets and Walrus
post May 26 2006, 07:09 PM
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Date: Monday, May 22, 2006

GPS Coordinates
Latitude: 64° 41.1’ N
Longitude: 170° 34.6’ W

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We are moving through the stations north of St. Lawrence Island very quickly.

Patty had a chance to go on a boat ride today. This boat is called an RHI, Rigid Hull Inflatable. What do you think that means? Patty and the Healy crewmembers had a chance to step onto an ice floe. A floe is a sheet of floating ice.

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Patty said that standing on the ice felt like solid ground. She and the others stayed toward the center of the floe because the edges were weak enough to break off.

Today was our first sunny day in a while and it felt wonderful! We were called outside as we came across ice floes known as broken pack. It looks similar to a plate that has shattered into a million little pieces after being dropped on the floor. There were herds and herds of walrus everywhere!

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Walrus like to pile on top of each other. It seemed like every time I thought I saw one walrus, it really turned out to be two or more. We saw walrus herds like this for several hours in this broken pack ice today.

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This big orange and white boat is probably pretty scary to many animals in the ocean. Most of the walruses we saw slid into the water as we came near them. This brave male walrus stayed on his piece of ice long enough for me to get a zoomed in picture.

After observing walruses and looking over more interesting critters from the trawl (see photo gallery), Patty and I decided to head up to the bridge to capture the sunset on this beautiful evening. We saw that many other people had the same idea as they joined us on the bridge closer to sunset. Sunset was slated for 24:55 – that’s 12:55 a.m.! What time does the sun set in your area of the world?

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I captured this beautiful view of the sunset in front of the bow before we turned to head to another station. This picture was taken at 24:30, May 23, 2006. So Monday’s sunset didn’t technically happen until Tuesday morning.

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Can you see why they call this the land of the midnight sun? It is 24:55 and the sun is just now setting. The scientists on the midnight to noon shift told me the next morning that it didn’t really get dark at all last night. It stayed twilight all night long until the sun rose again around 0600.
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