Amb. David Balton speaks at a science conference (2016 file photo Matt Miller/KTOO)Representatives of the Arctic Council member nations wrapped up a meeting in Portland, Maine this week. American Ambassador David Balton, chairman of the senior Arctic officials, says they heard updates on top Council priorities, including black carbon reduction and resilience for Arctic communities.Listen Now The Arctic Council turned 20 last month. For the first decade of the Arctic Council’s existence, interest in it did not extend much beyond the Arctic nations. But Balton says now the world is paying attention to the region.“And the Arctic Council has emerged as the premier international forum for dealing with the key issues of the Arctic region,” he said. “It has a broad mandate. It’s expanding its scope and reach in a number of ways. So I think there’s a growing awareness out there.”Balton says the Arctic Council’s work on environmental monitoring and assessment is informing global efforts to contend with climate change, and he cited the example of the Polar Code that takes effect in January, to improve maritime safety.“A lot of the information that went into building this new code to better regulate polar shipping, including Arctic shipping, came from information supplied by the Arctic Council,” he said.As Balton spoke to reporters this morning, the power spot of international Arctic discussion had already shifted from Maine to Iceland, where the annual Arctic Circle Assembly is underway. It’s a gathering of some 2,000 people. In one of the first speeches there, U.S. Arctic Representative Robert Papp called for an international icebreaking force. Papp, according to High North News, said the icebreakers could be jointly operated for the common good, like the Enterprise, on Star Trek.
Across the Bering Sea: From Katmai to Kamchatka: Covering more than 3,800 nautical miles, and nearly circumnavigating the Bering Sea, this is a wide-ranging voyage. Spot coastal brown bears from Katmai National Park to the Kamchatka Peninsula, search for Steller’s sea eagles along the scenically stunning Zhupanova River. Be awed by the abundance and variety of marine mammals: Pacific walrus, northern fur seals, gray, humpback, and sperm whales, sea otters and Steller sea lions; and seabirds from the Aleutians to the Commander Islands including horned and tufted puffins, murres and rare whiskered auklets. Visit a Koryak village in northern Kamchatka, and Vitus Bering’s gravesite in the Commander Islands. 22 days/21 nights, departs June 18 & July 21, 2019. Rates begin at $32,320 per person based on double occupancy in a category 1 cabin.Life & Legend on the Bering Sea: Life & Legend on the Bering Sea: Traverse the depth and breadth of the iconic Bering Strait and venture deep into the two distinct worlds it joins. Encounter the remote culture of Provideniya, “the Gateway to the Arctic,” before exploring the Pribilof Islands, a naturalist’s paradise sometimes referred to as “the Galápagos of the North” – with the largest breeding rookery of northern fur seals, comprising about half the world’s population. From those lively breeding grounds continue on to explore the dynamic history, culture and natural wonders of the remote islands along Alaska’s rugged coast, including Kodiak Island with the native culture and Alutiiq people. Explore Katmai National Park, one of the premier brown bear viewing areas in the world – with opportunities to witness them digging for clams at low tide and fishing for salmon, and a unique petrified forest to round out this immersive expedition. 13 days/12 nights, departs July 9 & September 4, 2019. Rates begin at $20,290 per person based on double occupancy in a category 1 cabin.Exploring Russia’s Far East & Wrangel Island: This fascinating exploration of the remote Siberian coastline promises rich culture and an astounding wealth of wildlife. See gray whales in their northern feeding grounds in the Chukchi and Bering Seas. Meet indigenous artists known for their intricate walrus ivory carvings, take in dramatic bird cliffs teeming with puffins and guillemots, then forge farther north, well above the Arctic Circle to Wrangel Island Reserve. Spend several days in this pristine landscape that’s home to the highest density of ancestral polar bear dens, the world’s largest population of Pacific walrus, and an astonishing variety of plant life. And before this expedition comes to an end witness one more site few get to see—an ancient, mysterious display of whale bones and skulls erected on Yttygran Island. Experience meaningful cultural exchanges across the entire breadth of Beringia. 13 days/12 nights, departs August 11 & 23, 2019. Rates begin at $20,290per person based on double occupancy.The voyages are set aboard the 102-guest National Geographic Orion, a state-of-the-art expedition ship, designed to safely explore the remote regions of the planet. A modern, elegant ship, her stylish setting features a dramatic, window-lined main lounge and library where the expedition community gathers for cocktails and Recap, and expansive outdoor spaces. Everywhere you turn as you cruise, you’ll find panoramic windows that connect you with the wild world you’re exploring. She is equipped with a full complement of cool tools to explore the environment, including kayaks, Zodiacs, and Remotely Operated Vehicle to explore the undersea.For more information visit au.expeditions.comSource = Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic to ventureLindblad Expeditions-National Geographic to ventureLindblad Expeditions-National Geographic has announced a remarkable program of voyages for 2019 that will venture into the Russian Arctic, one of the most rugged and wildlife-rich regions on the planet. The three new itineraries will give a different glimpse into life in the remote Russian Far East & Bering Sea, where spectacular wildlife, an intriguing native culture, arresting mysteries and world-class exploration history abound.The human element is one of the richest aspects of visiting the Arctic, and this region is no exception. Communities of Siberian Yup’ik people still follow traditional methods of hunting seals and whales, while the coastal Koryak and Chukchi people of Russia have developed into incredible reindeer herders living off the land – and are a part of why few travellers leave this place unchanged.Several of Lindblad’s exemplary expedition team have spent time in the region, and were integral to the development of the expeditions. “I have visited the region since 2004 and immediately fell in love with its landscape, abundant wildlife and charming people of many cultures. Over several years of travel there, the wildlife never became commonplace for me – it was spectacular every time,” stated Jen Martin, Director of Field Staff and Expedition Development.Itineraries include: