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We Walk the Line

Midnight Sun (Image 1 of 12)

The largest island in the world, Greenland offers expansive views of beautiful landscapes, but is also an inhospitable place to call home. Still, native Inuit live off the changing terrain in Qaanaaq, one of the world’s northernmost municipalities.

Thomas Martika Qujaukitsoq, Thule Hunter (Image 2 of 12)

Though the modern world has influenced Inuit life, Thomas Martika Qujaukitsoq, who was born in Qaanaaq, continues to live as his grandfather did. “I drive my dogsled because it is my culture and my life.” His grandmother hand stitched his reindeer coat and his pants are made from the fur of polar bear, which he hunted. The same fur lines his sealskin mittens.

Spring in Ilulissat (Image 3 of 12)

When sunlight returns to the Arctic after months of complete darkness, the ice begins to slowly melt and fishermen take to the sea. In this harsh place, coexistence between humans and nature is a delicate balance.

Ice Fishing (Image 4 of 12)

Using sled dogs to navigate across frozen sea ice requires patience, discipline and strength. This Inuit fisherman rests on his sled after digging a hole in the ice to fish for halibut.

Chimney Pond, Baxter State Park, Maine (Image 5 of 12)

Preservation often implies viewing nature from a safe distance, in order to “leave it alone.” While in certain cases this can be essential to the health of the natural world, being too rigid with this definition denies the constant transformation of nature and the creative self nurtured through the exploration of the outdoors.

The Penobscot River, Maine (Image 6 of 12)

The endangered Atlantic salmon, American shad, alewife, blueback herring and seven other sea-run fish depend on the Penobscot River for migration corridors and to spawn. But, with decades of damming and dumping from paper mills and logging, Maine’s freshwater environments are strained.

Earth’s Natural Resources (Image 7 of 12)

The northeasternmost state in the U.S., Maine has more than 6,000 lakes and ponds, over 31,000 miles of rivers and streams, and a huge diversity of wildlife. Undisturbed by onlookers, this moose casually grazes along a lake in Baxter State Park.

The Great Works Dam (Image 8 of 12)

The Great Works Dam was built on the Penobscot River in the 1830s, inhibiting migration of 11 species of sea-run fish. In June 2012, the Penobscot River Restoration Project, a partnership of the Penobscot Indian Nation, Maine Audubon, The Nature Conservancy and more, began removing the dam and two others.

Bermuda and the Sargasso Sea (Image 9 of 12)

Bermuda is near the western edge of the Sargasso Sea, defined by the North Atlantic Gyre. A gyre acts as a slow-moving whirlpool that, among other things, mixes warm and cold water. It also slowly collects trash during its rotation.

Trash Gyre (Image 10 of 12)

Millions of tons of trash get dumped into the oceans each year, resulting in trash gyres in oceans across the globe.

Portuguese Man-of-War (Image 11 of 12)

With an outward appearance similar to a jellyfish, the Portuguese man-of-war is actually a venomous colonial organism made up of specialized individuals.

Human Impact (Image 12 of 12)

The shores of this tiny Bermudian island are littered with plastic items, ranging from bleach bottles and sandals, to lighters and glow sticks, to “confetti” microplastics, along with other everyday household items. Many of these items have been out at sea for years, and the debris can be mistaken for food by fish and birds.


70 Degrees West is a multimedia project that documents our modern world’s impact on environmental and humanitarian struggles in unique and fragile eco-regions from the North to South Pole along a single line of longitude. Exploring the vulnerability of habitats and cultures along one line of longitude demonstrates a fraction of a larger truth: The natural world and cultural ways of life are endangered on a global level. Through photography, film and written narratives, our goal is to broadcast essential information in order to help preserve the habitats, cultures, diversity and richness of life on Earth. View Ensia homepage

Photographer and director Justin Lewis and writer and producer Michelle Stauffer have spent two years gathering stories in Qaanaaq, Greenland; Maine, U.S.; and Bermuda. To learn more go to 70degreeswest.com

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