Written by Neil Fisher, videographer, Vancouver Aquarium
If someone were to offer you a trip to Canada’s Arctic in the middle of the summer, what would you say? Hopefully, you’d say “yes” in an instant as it’s a beautiful place. However, what if the same opportunity was offered again, but this time in February? You would travel by snowmobile from Gjoa Haven, cross the frozen Queen Maud Gulf and continue on to tiny Hat Island. That would mean overnighting on the frozen sea ice for upwards of six days. And you would have one more detail to consider: according to Environment Canada, the average temperature in Gjoa Haven for February is -40°c. During last week’s blizzard it reached -60°C with wind chill.
Despite the Hoth-like similarities, and how crazy it sounds, this is what my dreams are made of. Howling winds and blowing snow, sweeping across a frozen landscape – how could anyone say “no” to such an amazing opportunity? Are you interested yet?
To give you some understanding of why such an opportunity appeals to me, here’s the Coles Notes version of my background: I’ve worked at the Vancouver Aquarium for 12 years in various departments, from IT to marine mammal training.
Motion picture and photography began as a hobby and quickly evolved into a passion.
Now, it’s my career. My personal time is often spent photographing the rare and disappearing species of British Columbia in hopes of raising awareness. When you combine my hands-on beluga training experience with my drive to document untold stories, it shouldn’t be too difficult to see why a February trip north is so appealing to me.
I was fortunate enough to visit the Arctic in the summer of 2012 and like then, I’ll be sharing what I encounter while travelling across the region over the next few weeks – though it might be difficult to find an internet connection on the frozen sea. With any luck, my frozen fingers will bang out a bunch of blog posts and snap a few hundred photos, so check back over the next few weeks for some more frigid ramblings.
Two Aquarium staffers – Eric Solomon, director of Arctic Programs, and Neil Fisher, videographer and photographer, are accompanying scientists from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the Canadian Rangers on a unique data-gathering initiative known as the Canadian Rangers Ocean Watch program (CROW). The group is traveling to various areas in the Arctic, and plan to share updates throughout their journey.