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Photo taken by Johnnie Edmonston

Three times in my life I have been invited to become part of a science crew for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Because of that, I have been really fortunate to get up to the Arctic, and beyond, several times. I’m not going to lie, theses trips have been some of the most rewarding and most challenging trips I have ever taken. I mean, being on a science research vessel for 4 weeks and bunking with someone you don’t know can be a bit daunting. Throw in a bunch of global scientists and a shortening coffee supply - quarters get close, real quick.

That being said, getting a call at 3am from the bridge crew there is a polar bear just off the port stern is not something a lot of people get to experience. I will never forget jumping out of my bunk, grabbing my camera and running down the icy decks of the USCG Healy in my pajamas only to find a freaking polar bear with his two front feet leaning against the stern! He wanted on. I wanted a picture. Fortunately, only one of us got what they wanted.

Because of these trips I’ve seen some things I, otherwise, would probably never experience:

Photo Taken By Sindre Skrede

  • I have seen and sailed past the most amazing sea stacks in the Faroe Islands.

  • I have boated around Kolbeinsey for the afternoon.

  • I witnessed an iceberg calving only minutes after we skipped around them in a small boat/dinghy (see photos below).

  • I have been thrown out of my seat and across the room when a wave came out of nowhere as we tried to watch a movie on the R/V Knorr.

  • I have been told to always walk in pairs when leaving a building in Barrow, Alsaska in case of polar bears (I’ve always chosen my partners…wisely).

  • While someone was perched above us with a shot gun (in case of bears) I was able to get off ship, onto an ice floe, pal around and then watched the entire coast guard crew play football - On. The. Ice. Floe!

  • I have sailed past the volcanic island, Jan Mayen.

  • I climbed a glacier in Svalbard.

  • I have been so socked in with fog, for days, that I thought I was going to lose my mind.

  • I have scaled engines and other contraptions that could take a leg off in the Engine room just to get a good shot, all while the boat rolled.

  • I have seen recently flipped icebergs, beautiful arctic coasts, the green flash, polar bears, auroras, whales and even ocean water in hatches where it shouldn’t be. There’s so much more, but my stream of consciousness can only gather these memories for the time-being.

Climbing a glacier in Spitsbergen, 2012.

If you are interested, you can find so much more information by clicking the links below. They will take you to three of my science expeditions with photos, video, journals and more. The last link will take you to the book where some of my photography is featured. Below the links you will find a few random photos I pulled out of the over 50,000 images taken on these science cruises. I’ll add more photos, on occasion, as time allows and I’ll update the updates on Instagram so make sure to follow me there if you happen to be interested.

Vanishing Arctic

Denmark Strait

Greenland’s Frozen Coast

Book - To the Denmark Strait: Oceanographers Search for a Mysterious Current

Slideshow - All images © 2010-2019 Rachel Fletcher

Slideshow - All images © 2010-2019 Rachel Fletcher