International vigils in Seattle, Amsterdam draw attention to annual Arctic sea ice minimum day

September 6, 2018

Event to highlight cruise industry’s climate pollution impact on world’s oceans.

SEATTLE, WA — A family-friendly vigil happening Saturday, September 15 near the Pier 91 cruise terminal will highlight how human-caused climate change is impacting the health of the world’s oceans, especially the Arctic. The vigil will feature a floating art installation in Elliott Bay of a polar bear perched on a melting iceberg.

The vigil is happening on Arctic sea ice minimum day, the annual day when the sea ice extent is at its lowest. Sea ice minimum —  which occurs in mid-September of each year — happens when the ice stops melting and the glaciers begin to accumulate again. The vigil will also draw attention to the role cruise ships play in accelerating the melting ice in the Arctic and contributing to sea level rise by burning heavy fuel oil, the dirtiest fossil fuel available for marine transportation. 

The National Snow and Ice Data Center tracks sea ice at A September 4 blog post by NSIDC says this year’s sea ice minimum is expected to be one of the ten lowest in the satellite record. 

The event coincides with another international vigil for Arctic sea ice minimum day in Amsterdam. The event is also part of the region-wide Salish Sea Day of Action.

WHAT: Seattle vigil for annual Arctic sea ice minimum day

WHEN: 3-5 p.m. Saturday, September 15

WHERE: Smith Cove Park, 23rd Ave W, Seattle (west of Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91)

WHO: The event is co-hosted by environmental organizations, 350 Seattle, Friends of the Earth, and Plant for the Planet. The public is invited to attend; the event will include kid-friendly activities.


  • Verner Wilson III, Senior Oceans Campaigner at Friends of the Earth and member of the Curyung Tribe in Dillingham, Alaska
  • Kendra Ulrich, Senior Shipping Campaigner at
  • Pamela Bond Coello, member of the Snohomish Tribe and co-founder of Protectors of the Salish Sea
  • Paul che oke ten Wagner, member of the Saanich First Nation of Canada and co-founder of Protectors of the Salish Sea
  • Athena and Caroline, Seattle residents and youth ambassadors with Plant for the Planet 

VISUALS: An art installation of a polar bear perched on a melting iceberg will be floating on Elliott Bay.

FREE ACTIVITIES: Children of all ages can take a photo in a kayak (on land) or with a stuffed polar bear, enjoy a shave ice treat, get their faces painted like a polar bear, and color a banner or write a letter to Carnival’s CEO.

ONLINE: RSVP for the event on Facebook at Salish Sea Day of Action targeting cruise ships. Parts of the vigil will be streamed live online at

BACKGROUND is an international environmental organization with offices in Bellingham, WA, Vancouver, BC, and San Francisco, CA. 

The organization works to reduce the climate impact of the shipping industry and transition cruise companies away from using heavy fuel oil to power its ships — including ships that travel to the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. Heavy fuel oil is the dirtiest fossil fuel available for marine transportation. When soot released from burning heavy fuel oil settles on sea ice, it darkens the surface, decreasing the ability of sea ice to reflect sunlight and accelerating melting. 

Cruise companies that burn heavy fuel oil — like Carnival Corporation and its 10 subsidiary brands — are amplifying the effects of climate change in the fragile and threatened Arctic, which is already experiencing climate change impacts at twice the rate of other regions. A recently published analysis found that during the year studied, Carnival Corporation was responsible the largest amount of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic — over 11,000 tons. Read more: Under the radar: How the cruise industry threatens the Arctic

Holland America, a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & PLC, is headquartered in Seattle. Several Holland America routes travel from Seattle and Vancouver, B.C, to ports in Alaska — some of which are located in the sub-Arctic. 

Other Carnival subsidiaries that sail from Seattle and Vancouver to Alaska include Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, and Seabourn. Carnival brands P&O, Seabourn, Holland America, and Aida sail from ports in Europe to both Arctic and sub-Arctic waters. Carnival’s Cunard Line sails to the sub-Arctic, just skirting the Arctic. 

Update: The international vigil originally scheduled for Rotterdam has been moved to Amsterdam. The vigil in London has been canceled.


Media contacts:

For the vigil: Virginia Cleaveland, Press Secretary,,, 510-858-9902

For the Salish Sea Day of Action: Emily Johnston, Communications Coordinator, 350 Seattle,, 206-407-5003