05/04/2015 08:45 EDT | Updated 05/04/2016 05:12 EDT

Missing Dutch skiers' dog Kimnik found alive in High Arctic

A dog travelling with two Dutch skiers and environmental researchers presumed drowned in Nunavut has been found alive, according to the research organization that organized their trip. 

Marc Cornelissen and Philip de Roo were on a two-month scientific study of ice thickness north of Resolute Bay when they disappeared. An RCMP search and rescue effort was called off Thursday, with police saying the men likely drowned.

RCMP spokeswoman Yvonne Niego said the territory's protection services stop at search and rescue, and recovery options for the pair's gear and dog were a "grey area," casting the fate of the animal, strapped to a sled in the High Arctic, into question.


Related: Dutch skiers presumed drowned in High Arctic, say Nunavut RCMP

However, the Cold Facts organization was able to organize a helicopter crew to rescue the dog, which belongs to the local wildlife ranger in Resolute Bay. She was referred to as "Kimnik" on the skiers' blog, likely referring to "qimmiq," the Inuktitut word for Inuit sled dog, its breed.

Cold Facts representatives say they are coming to terms with the loss of their colleagues, who "gave their lives for addressing climate change issues ... and serving science," said Marielle Feenstra, who is with the organization.

"It's tough times for all of us," she said.

Explorer Matty McNair, who lives in Iqaluit, hosted the researchers before they headed to Resolute Bay, says she's in "total shock" at the news of their disappearance and presumed drowning.

"I've known Marc [Cornelissen] for a long time," she says. "We were on the ice going to the North Pole at the same time.

"You know, we've lost two really wonderful, excellent polar explorers. I'm really sad about that."

Cold Facts says the dog was hungry, but doing well.

Efforts now focus on trying to recover the bodies of the researchers to help give closure to their families.