Fishing in the Fjords

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The following post contains excerpts from my travel journal, replete with stories and photographs, from my time spent throughout the settlements of East Greenland in June of 2016.


Day 2. June 4th, 2016.
Kuummiut, Greenland. 

I woke up to my 4:30am alarm with a pretty bad headache. I could not tell whether it was from a lack of sleep, a lack of good sleep, a reaction to the anti-parasitic medications I was on since picking up that little devil in Russia back in March, or from something else.

I took an Advil and got dressed, pulling up my black Fjallraven pants over a fresh pair of long underwear and layering myself with fleeces underneath my puffy. Even though it was already June, the temperature outside was just above freezing. 

Having never gotten dark, it was of course already light outside when I walked down the rocky path to the harbour. Fatty seal corpses and an entire whale skeleton could be found amongst the boats and fishing lines scattered about the dock.

A whale skeleton in Kuummiut's harbour. East Greenland. 

A whale skeleton in Kuummiut's harbour. East Greenland. 

 
 

Illi, the local fishermen who I briefly met with Lars the day before, came walking down in his bright yellow jacket and sunglasses carrying a fishing pole and green fishing net attached to the end of a long stick.

Ammassak, a small, slender fish, were gathering along the fjords in massive numbers to lay eggs. This presented a great opportunity for the local fishermen to stock up. We took Illi's boat past what seemed like a gate of icebergs, navigating our way through the harbour to the sea, before turning down a nearby fjord.

 
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The boat hugged the coastline with the motor barely running until a large school of fish appeared below us in the shallows.

Illi carefully pulled out his net and gently dipped it into the water before dragging it carefully though the school of Ammassak.  He gently pulled up the net with about thirty small fish suck in its grasp.

Illi flipped open a large plastic bag and dumped the wiggling fish inside before navigating the boat back over the school of fish and repeating the process. Before long, he had an entire forty-pound bag full of fish.

Small Ammassak fish from Illi's bag. Kuummiut, East Greenland. 

Small Ammassak fish from Illi's bag. Kuummiut, East Greenland. 

 
 

I spent the rest of the morning hiking around the coastline while Illi continued with his fishing, hopping over streams of glacial runoffs as they made their way to the open ocean. Thick moss, grass and lichens covered the rocky shoreline, providing a soft place to take a nap looking out onto the fjord, with icebergs floating in the distance.

About thirty minutes after I had fallen asleep, Illi came calling; it was time to head back into the boat and explore some of the largest icebergs in the area.

We meandered through these massive icebergs making our way back towards Kuummiut; the scene was spectacularly beautiful. The fog burned off from the ocean’s surface and the sun illuminated the bottoms of the icebergs, contrasting them against the dark ocean floor. The ice displayed a spectrum of light blue hues, uncovering the depth of the icebergs below the surface, with edges jetting straight towards the bottom of the ocean.

 
Hiking along the shoreline in eastern Greenland. 

Hiking along the shoreline in eastern Greenland. 

 

Back in Kuummiut harbour, Illi unloaded his catch with a crack of a smile and bid me a simple farewell, hauling the bag of fish over his shoulder as he walked up through the settlement.

I stopped at the Pilersuisoq to pick up some goodies for lunch and went back to the house. I was exhausted.

While my headache had subsided, the exhaustion had most definitely set in. After getting only about halfway though lunch, I crawled into my sleeping bad and slept for four hours.

I awoke at around six in the evening and I started sorting through and backing up my photos from the past two days. It's still a strange feeling to be using my work computer, the very device that sits at my desk everyday in the office, now in remote eastern Greenland—I do genuinely love this semi-nomadic, half-digital life. 

I did not leave the house until around ten thirty at night, just as the sun was low in the sky, shedding warm light onto the mountains to the east of the settlement.

 
Small icebergs off the coast of Kuummiut, Greenland. 

Small icebergs off the coast of Kuummiut, Greenland. 

 

I walked over to the fjord and took the drone out for an hour or so, taking it high above the fog that was quickly approaching Kuummiut from the sea, for a miraculous sunset as the sun dipped below the high stony mountains behind the settlement.

It was just before midnight when I walked back to the house, and although it was getting colder outside, dipping just below freezing, it was still light out.