This July, a limited number of polar-passionate travelers will be breaking ice, pushing barriers and leading change alongside the world's top Arctic climate change experts. The inaugural Quark Expeditions North Pole Summit 2017, on board one of the world's most powerful nuclear icebreakers, is a transformative 14-day journey from Murmansk, Russia, to 90°N at the top of the world. As a participant, you'll learn firsthand about our most pressing environmental challenges and be inspired by the brightest thought leaders in polar conservation to take action.
SeaLegacy photographers Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier, co-founders of the not-for-profit conservation storytelling collective SeaLegacy, are two such thought leaders you'll have the opportunity to meet and engage with at this interactive Arctic summit. Here, Nicklen and Mittermeier tell us why they're so passionate about climate change.
Becoming Passionate Arctic Climate Change Experts
Even before his illustrious career began, Nicklen was being shaped into a polar expert – it started in 1972, when his family relocated to Baffin Island, in the Canadian Arctic.
“The ice and snow were my sandbox, and the Inuit were my teachers,” he says. “A normal evening of entertainment as a 4- or 5-year-old kid was to sit outside, listening to the folklore and stories of the Inuit and playing under the aurora borealis (northern lights).”
Mittermeier's love of the Polar Regions developed along a different path. In her marine biology studies, she realized that people just don't get passionate about data. “I discovered photography by accident… It's a great tool to communicate with people and to create an emotional connection [with them],” she explains. “I became a photographer out of the necessity to communicate the urgency to protect our planet.”
People who travel to the Polar Regions inevitably return home as ambassadors for the places and creatures who live there, she says.
“I've seen it many times in people who come to the Polar Regions for the first time. The first time you get there, you wake up in the morning, go out on the deck to have a look at the landscape and just can't believe it,” Mittermeier says. “It's hard to explain what it feels like, what it smells like – that crispness of the air, and just being in nature and seeing the wildlife. It energizes you in a way that's hard to describe.”
SeaLegacy Brings the World's Oceans & Arctic Climate Change to Light
SeaLegacy, Mittermeier and Nicklen's collective, uses photography to shine a light on the world's oceans, because little is known about our planet's largest ecosystems.
In his 30-year photojournalism career, Nicklen has worked for National Geographic, The New Yorker, television and more, amassing what he calls the world's largest body of work on the Polar Regions. Even so, he says, “Whatever I'm doing, it's just not enough.”
“We need to connect people to the important issues facing our planet, and SeaLegacy helps address this with urgency,” explains Nicklen. “We align ourselves with passionate, like-minded partners like Quark. It's our job to provide the visual assets, and then it's up to our partners to help get those images out in front of the world.”
In essence, SeaLegacy brings the ocean to everyone through visual storytelling.
Part of the problem, Mittermeier says, is that most people only ever experience the ocean from the surface. “SeaLegacy allows us to grab audiences by the hand, to bring them beneath the thin blue line of the surface of the ocean – to show them just how magical and special and important our ocean is.”
A Chance to Discuss Climate Change with Nicklen & Mittermeier at the North Pole Summit 2017
Nicklen and Mittermeier are 2 of the 7 special guests on board an enhanced version of our North Pole: The Ultimate Arctic Expedition voyage for the North Pole Summit, beginning 20 July 2017.
As you power your way toward the North Pole aboard the iconic icebreaker 50 Years of Victory, you'll develop an enhanced appreciation of the pristine environment around you. Lectures and fireside chats with experts in the fields of science, exploration, conservation, politics and education will expose you to a variety of perspectives and a wealth of firsthand knowledge of how our lifestyles affect the Polar Regions.
Educator David Serkoak will be on hand to share his unique insight as an Inuit elder, while paleoclimatologist and marine geologist Maureen Raymo will bring her knowledge of the history and causes of climate change to light. Joining them will be Alan Chambers, an arctic expeditions expert and adventurer, James Raffan, a Canadian explorer and writer, and Frances Ulmer, chair of the United States Arctic Research Commission, each offering attendees a specific lens from which to view the issues surrounding climate change in the Arctic.
Together, this dynamic group of thought leaders offers polar travelers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to connect, push their boundaries and inspire change on board an unforgettable arctic expedition from Russia to the Canadian High Arctic. Those interested in the experience who are unable to make the special sailing with this inspirational group can still journey to the top of the world on 1 of 2 additional North Pole: The Ultimate Arctic Expedition departures this summer.
An Arctic Expedition for the Ages
“What excites me about going to the North Pole Summit is the chance to see this seascape that I'm incredibly passionate about,” Nicklen says. “Since I started documenting the Arctic in 1994, we've seen massive changes due to climate change. We know that sea ice is disappearing. We know that we are at the lowest extent of sea ice since recorded history of it began.
For her part, Mittermeier looks forward to introducing to first-time travelers the wonder and peace of the Arctic. “Whenever I've had the opportunity to travel to the Arctic, there's this peacefulness that's come with it. I'm really looking forward to that Zen feeling… On a planet that's become increasingly crowded, it's a feeling I really cherish,” she says.
“Our planet is changing so quickly, and this is an opportunity to go and see something that might not be there forever,” Mittermeier adds. “I want to go with like-minded, passionate people who want to share in an expedition of discovery.”
To learn more about how to get involved with SeaLegacy and its mission to inspire the global community to protect our oceans, visit sealegacy.org.
Don't miss out on the chance to join this exclusive group of polar travelers – Nicklen, Mittermeier and rest of the Quark Expeditions North Pole Summit 2017 experts – at the top of the world! Contact a Polar Travel Adviser to learn more about this once-in-a-lifetime arctic adventure.