Leaving Greenland

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25 October 2013

Tara and her 14 crew members left Nuuk this morning, and at the same time Greenland. We had spent 20 days on the west coast of this frozen white island, between Uummannaq, Ilulissat, and then 24 hours in the capital city, Nuuk. We are now leaving the land of the Inuits, a culture undergoing rapid transformation.

I will always remember the shock of those few hours spent in Nuuk. First, because we were back in a city. Since boarding Tara in Pevek (Chukotka region of Russia) nearly 2 months ago, we had stopped only in tiny villages. The Northwest Passage is a vast region with only a few inhabitants per square kilometer!

Each village has its history, a small population including Inuits of diverse origins, and one point in common: an airfield, post office and town hall. In Nuuk I was dizzy: tall buildings and shopping malls with huge glass surfaces that seemed much colder than the wind of Boreas himself. The activity of a city with traffic, pedestrians, cafes and shops. We were back in today’s globalized Western civilization.

At present, Tara is heading southwest towards the center of the Labrador Sea where we will accomplish what will probably be the last long sampling station of the Tara Oceans Polar Circle expedition. As Eric Karsenti, our chief scientist and the man who inspired this crazy project (started in September 2009) said with humor: “It’s about time this is over!” A biologist’s remark, as always said with a laugh!

Vincent Hilaire