Safiria Buono on board Nanuq, "enjoying" the cold!

Dispatch from Nanuq: taking the Northern-most microplastics sample

14 Aug 2018 – Text by Safiria Buono.

I once said that time is different on board. I would like to rectify: time is different at the poles, in general. It’s like it stops. It’s like everything is slower. You feel closer to the past: this is probably because there has been no big urbanisation, and most of the landscapes surrounding us are exactly as they were 100 years ago. This were the thoughts Dolores and I had during one of our shifts, heading North to the point of the first SOS call made by the survivors of the crash of ITALIA airship.

Using the Mantanet to collect microplastic data samples.

About that, the ceremony was not as solemn and peaceful as one might have imagined. There were waves making difficult for us to stand still, wind covering our voices and fog – just as the survivors described. Nevertheless, the prayer and the names of the six missing members of ITALIA were said, the flower crown disposed on the water, and the cross thrown at the bottom of the ocean. Our hearts were with the descendants at that moment: we made it, finally.

Today, 13 Aug 2018, we went up to 82°7N, where I carried out what seems to be the northernmost microplastics sampling next to the ice shelf. We found a piece of blue plastic in the mantanet filter, just next to a bird feather and other things that stink tremendously every time I open the box in which I collect the filters (often full of phytoplankton, algae, etc). I swear I’m going to pass out after filter number 20. It was so cold during the sampling: my hands were hurting so much (I only had some blue latex gloves), that I had tears steaming down my cheeks and freezing after a while. They were so frozen that I couldn’t grab the bottle anymore, or un-hook my lifeline to go inside.

Beside that, Mathilde and I are spending time reading the same books, creating crosswords, playing cards games or memorising all the possible historical dates we can (don’t ask us why, we do what we can to have fun, and we actually really enjoy it). We are now heading South again.

Direction: Alpiniøya.

The Polarquest team will soon be headed to the crash site of Airship ITALIA. While we await the conclusion of this expedition – keep track of Nanuq’s position, using the live tracker above!

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