There are many things that make it apparent, when sailing on the R/V Sikuliaq, that it is an icebreaker, made for far colder waters than the California Current. One is that it is actually called ARRV Sikuliaq, for Arctic Research Vessel. But the others I’ve noticed so far:

  • The back deck is apparently heated, to help melt the ice for when they sail through an ice storm and have to shovel snow and ice before research can continue.
  • There are portable heaters in every communal room, including above almost every table in the galley.
  • The immersion suits are dry suits made for polar waters, not the usual gumby suits on other research vessels.
  • There are frostbite charts in the labs, graphing the temperature of the water and windchill, and how long you have combining the two before frostbite sets in. Not a huge concern in California.

But maybe the most fun thing that makes it clear this is a polar vessel are the polar bears. The art all over the walls are of polar research of old (sailboats sailing through snow!), and polar bears on ice, and even a constellation of a polar bear.


And out on deck, there are painted polar bears. Nanook has conquered the Siquliak, and he pops up in the most unlikely places!

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And inside, the fun doesn’t end. There are supposedly 22 tiny toy polar bears hidden throughout the ship, but I’ve only found 4 so far. 3 in the galley, one in the wet lab. One more has been spotted in the gym. We’ll post back with more sightings.

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And of course, the fun isn’t only polar bears. Other things live in the snow too!