Tourists Can Enjoy Drift Ice Cruising on Aurorago in Abashiri
February 14th, 2017
There are 2 sightseeing spots that tourists can enjoy the scheduled drift ice cruising in Japan. Abashiri is one of the sightseeing spots. Drift ice drifts to the offing of Abashiri around mid January. If common ships collide with the drift ice, those are broken, but drift ice icebreaker Aurorago (流氷観光砕氷船おーろら号) and Aurorago2 (おーろらⅡ号) that can break the drift ice zone with the weight of themselves go into service. A lot of tourists visit here to see the drift ice from mid January to early April. The drift ice icebreaker Aurorago and Aurorago2 go into service from 2 to 5 each day, and cruising time is around 60 minutes. The tourists can get aboard a ship at the roadside station "Ryuhyo kaido Abashiri (流氷街道網走)".
Aurorago and Aurorago2 are relatively big ships, and a characteristic of those ships is that its bow push down the drift ice with the weight of themselves and break the drift ice with technique of the continuous breaking ice (連続粉氷) or the ramming breaking ice (チャージング粉氷). In addition, those ships are large with reduced shake. The seating capacity of this ship is 450. Those ships do not make a small turn, but it is comfortable that the ships break the drift ice powerfully. Because 2 ships go into service depending on the number of the passengers, it is a unusual spot that tourists can enjoy a view with a combination of the drift ice and the ship. The ships are crowded very much during Abashiri Okhotsk Ryuhyo Festival (あばしり流氷まつり), so you would better make a reservation beforehand. By the way, those ships are used as Shiretoko cruising ship (知床クルーズ船) in a summer.
As for the drift ice, a cold front with a low of -40 degrees celsius blows from the Siberia (シベリア) to Hokkaido and ice born in the Amur River (アムール川) drifts to the Sea of Okhotsk (オホーツク海) by the wind. Shiretoko Peninsula (知床半島) just plays a role as the net and the sea is covered with the drift ice closely from the offing Of Abashiri to the Shiretoko peninsula.
I thought that all the drift ice was born in Russia. But the chief engineer of the Garinkogo2 said "The water of the Amur river flows into the Sea of Okhotsk, and sea water keeps on separating from freshwater for a period of time, and the concentration of salt in a part of freshwater lowers. Therefore, the seawater of the Sea of Okhotsk freezes at -1.8 degrees celsius, and the drift ice forms ice in Okhotsk. Until about 30 years ago, the drift ice seemed to be seen until June, but now it seems to be seen from late March to April because of influences of global warming." I heard a chief engineer of the Garinkogo2 (ガリンコ号Ⅱ) those talking.
In addition, earless seals, white-tailed eagles and steller's sea eagles can be seen on the dirft ice, if you are lucky. By the way, there is not always the drift ice. If you are unlucky, it is just crusing. Because it is considerably cold on the ship, Please make sure you will protect yourself against cold weather. You should bring disposable heating pads (使い捨てカイロ).
Atmosphere of Drift Ice and Aurirago Cruising Can Be Watched on Youtube
|Admission fee||Free of charge|
|Parking lot||Free parking is provided (400 cars)|
|Regular closing day||From late February to early February|
|Home page||Home page is here|
|Mapcode||305 678 311*83|
Refer to following websites for the accommodations around roadside station "Ryuhyo kaido Abashiri”.
|Abashiri Royal Hotel(網走ロイヤルホテル)|
|Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae(ホテルルートイン網走駅前)|
|Abashiri Central Hotel(網走セントラルホテル)|
|Dormy Inn Abashiri(ドーミーイン網走)|
|Abashiri Hotel Okhotsk Inn(網走ホテル オホーツク・イン)||
|Toyoko Inn Hokkaido Okhotsk Abashiri Ekimae(東横インオホーツク・網走駅前)|
|Abashiri Green Hotel(網走グリーンホテル)||
|Abashiri Ryuhyou-no-Oka Youth Hostel(網走流氷の丘ユースホステル)||
|Hotel Sun Abashiri(ホテルサンアバシリ)|
A page of Abashiri is here