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Capturing Imagination in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

Float Your Boat found at Hornstrandir Nature Reserve Iceland
Boat 234106 found by Isabelle Price at Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in northern Iceland

A student who participated in the Calvert County Public Schools’ Science and Engineering Expo decorated a small wooden boat that was sent to the North Pole by the German Polarstern science vessel and was deployed on September 13, 2023. It was then found by Isabelle Price while visiting Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in northern Iceland.


Submitted by Tom Harten, CHESPAX, Calvert County Public Schools, Maryland, USA

In 2009, I had an incredible experience. I spent a month on a remote island in the Bering Sea working with professional scientists on a seabird telemetry project with the PolarTREC program. We captured kittiwakes, murres, puffins, and other birds and fitted them with tracking devices to observe their movements during the breeding season. As a teacher with the Calvert County Public Schools’ (MD) CHESPAX environmental education program, few experiences impacted me more profoundly than the opportunity to visit this far-flung location and to share this magical place with students back home.  


Flash forward to 2023. I learned of a fascinating program called Float Your Boat in which students had the opportunity to learn about the changing arctic region and participate in research conducted by polar scientists by decorating small wooden boats that would be placed on the arctic ice with a GPS beacon to track the movement of the ice and the ocean currents. I knew that this would be an awesome opportunity to engage students with the science but also to capture their imagination as they observed the movement of their boat with the Float Your Boat web interface. Even more compelling was the idea that their decorated boat could someday wash ashore like a message in a bottle and be found by someone on a distant shoreline. My optimism on a boat being recovered was tempered by my understanding of the vast distances of the ocean and remoteness of the region.


Imagine my surprise when an email arrived announcing that one of our boats was found along the shore of northwestern Iceland! After being deployed at the North Pole by the German Icebreaker Polarstern on September 13, 2023, the little boat drifted with the ice and ocean currents over 1700 miles!  A curious beachcomber found it and reported it to the Float Your Boat staff on June 14, 2024.


I think of the little boat floating with the ice, perhaps drifting past polar bears, narwhal and walrus before finally coming to rest near Iceland’s Hornstrandir Nature Preserve, a place much like my Bering Sea island, teeming with seabirds, and other wildlife. Many thanks to the Float Your Boat team for allowing us to be a part of this amazing experience and to continue to capture our imagination about these rugged yet fragile ecosystems.

Boat Number

234106

Date Found

June 11, 2024

Place Found

Reykjavik, Hornstrandir, Westfjords, Iceland

Hornstrandir Nature Reserve 66.4432768, -22.5216971

Found By

Isabelle Price

Date Deployed

Who Deployed

Polarstern

Deployment Location

North Pole! 89.83, -2.9

Track Taken

North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre through Fram Strait

Float Your Boat at Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in northern Iceland
Boat 234106 found by Isabelle Price at Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in northern Iceland
Float Your Boat decorated, boxed, and ready to ship to North Pole via the Polarstern Icebreaker
Boat 234106 decorated, boxed, and ready to ship to North Pole via the Polarstern Icebreaker


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