As the sea ice declines, industrial activities such as fishing, shipping, mining, and drilling are expected to expand northward. These emerging threats will affect not only the area’s wildlife but also its Inuit communities, which have traditionally relied on these animals for food, dress, shelter, and energy.
Map by NGS Staff
To raise awareness of these dramatic changes in the high Arctic, Pristine Seas and the World Wildlife Fund-Canada worked closely with Inuit communities to document their stories and traditions. The team aims to record the ways in which Inuit culture is connected to the extraordinary local wildlife and evaluate how the disappearance of ice will impact these populations and their relationships with one another.
Pristine Seas conducted two primary expeditions to the region in 2015, filming Arctic wildlife and the traditional way of life of the Inuit and recording local stories and views on the ongoing environmental changes. The first of these expeditions focused on Qaanaaq, one of the most traditional Inuit villages in Greenland. The project's second expedition took place at Canada’s Baffin Island.
Climate projections forecast the total disappearance of summer sea ice in the Arctic by 2040, with the exception of one place—the Last Ice Area. This region, located north of Ellesmere Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut and Greenland will likely harbor the largest concentration of Arctic wildlife dependent on the sea-ice edge for survival, including bowhead whales, seals, narwhals, and polar bears. Pristine Seas documented this unique region through several expeditions since 2015. In 2019, the Government of Canada in cooperation with Inuit leadership announced the creation of a new Marine Conservation Area that will cover 319,000 square kilometers of important habitat.
In 2019, Pristine Seas produced The Last Ice, a feature length documentary film that focuses on a vulnerable region of the Arctic ocean known locally as Pikialasorsuaq. The Pikialasorsuaq, which lies between Canada’s Baffin Island and Northwest Greenland, is both ecologically and culturally significant, yet rapidly disappearing in a warming Arctic.
The Last Ice follows Inuit activists in Canada and Greenland as they fight to protect the Pikialasorsuaq from international industrial activities and establish Inuit-led management of the land, water, and ice. Through interviews with community leaders, traditional hunters, and Inuit youth, The Last Ice explores the essential role of local, traditional knowledge and cultural resilience in the fight against climate change.