Tourists stranded on Arctic ice floe make it to shore, await pickup

ARCTIC BAY, Nunavut – Some 20 tourists and their guides stuck on an ice floe off Baffin Island in Nunavut have all made it to shore and are waiting to be rescued by air.

The tourists are with Arctic Kingdom Expeditions and company president Graham Dickson said all of them managed to get off the floe when it floated close to shore.

Dickson said he expects the group will be picked up by helicopter later in the day.

RCMP Cpl. Yvonne Niego said there is 24 hours of daylight this time of year, but the weather has been difficult.

“The imminent danger is not there today as they are on land, but we still need to get to them,” Niego said Wednesday. “Everyone is safe. No injuries.”

The tour group — made up of Canadians, Americans, an Australian and someone from Jordan — was stranded when a 50-kilometre long slab of ice broke away from shore between Monday night and early Tuesday and floated out to sea.

Ten whale hunters were also on the floe and managed to scramble off as well.

Dickson said the ice probably broke away because of a strong tide and wind.

“We believe it was caused in part due to the super moon together with very strong winds.”

He said the flow was so large no one in the group was ever in any danger. The tourists were properly outfitted for the conditions.

“It was effectively a floating ice island,” he said.

“They actually watched movies and had presentations and waited as the tides changed and the winds changed. They were able by snowmobile to get back to land as the natural condition reversed.”