When I arrived in Pang in early May the majority of the ice in Cumberland Sound was breaking up and melting. However, this year after all the ice in the Sound melted strong winds at the end of June blew multi-year sea ice into Cumberland Sound from the open ocean. This ice is very blue in colour, very thick and takes a long time to melt. People in town say we need a north or northwest wind to blown the ice away but these winds have yet to arrive. This has meant that since late June Cumberland Sound has been almost completely blocked full of this multi-year sea ice. Pang fjord has been relatively free but depending on the tides and winds the ice has been coming into the fjord as well. Below is a satellite image that was recently taken showing the ice in the Sound.
The ice has begun to cause some issues for the people of Pangnirtung and many people (myself included) hope that the winds change and blow the ice away.
Many people I have spoken to in town have places where they go to fish and hunt all around Cumberland Sound. Many of these locations are the traditional hunting and fishing areas of certain families and many people I know grew up in camps around the fjord until their families moved into Pangnirtung. In the summer people go back to these areas with their families to hunt and fish but the ice this year has made this almost impossible. Early in July there is usually a Beluga Whale hunt that has yet to happen this year due to ice as well. I have also wanted to go camp at one of the river mouths out in the Sound to do some fishing for char but have been unable to do so yet. The ice has held fast at the end of Pang Fjord and although there has been some movement getting out into the Sound has been very difficult.
This has meant that there has been a lot of action in the fjord with many people camping and boating in the area as it is the only open water around. This year has also been very slow fishing in the area as and many people are blaming it on the ice. I am also taking this approach when I go fishing and come back empty handed ha-ha.
Not only is the ice stopping people from getting out into the Sound but it is stopping ships from getting in as well. There were a couple cruise ships that usually come into Pang each summer that couldn’t make it this year and the sea lifts have been delayed until the ice moves out. The sea lift’s re huge cargo ships that bring in a lot of important cargo to the community and with the sealift delayed much of the construction in town, among other things, may also be delayed. The forecast is calling for a change in wind direction so hopefully the Sound opens up soon so the ships can get in and the people from Pang can get out.
However, as much as the sea ice has been a challenge and it seems all negative there is one positive aspect of the sea ice; it is amazingly beautiful.