After a week of waiting, we’ve finally made it to our field camp in Grise Fiord. It’s here that we’ll be conducting research on narwhals: where do they come from? How long do they stay here? Where do they go next?
If there’s anything I’ve learned about doing research in the Arctic, it’s that you’re at the mercy of the weather and you can expect long waits. I write this as part of our team is still stuck in Pond Inlet, their airplane grounded due to the fog.
I, however, managed to get out of Pond Inlet with the others on the research team, flying across northern Baffin Island. A break in the clouds allowed us to peek at the rugged, mountainous terrain down below. We eventually made our way toward Ellesmere Island – Grise Fiord is on the south coast of the island.
Once we arrived in the tiny hamlet of Grise Fiord (where there was snow on the ground, unusual for this time of year), we were on to our next challenge: schlepping our gear to the rocky shore and hauling it on to the boat with only part of our team to do the heavy lifting.
We eventually managed to make it to our base camp, located in a fjord with mountains on either side. There’s a beautiful stream lined with rocks made smooth by the flowing crystal clear water.
In terms of fauna, we’ve seen ringed seals and gulls, although what we’re here for are the narwhals. We have yet to see any but we’re planning to stay here for a week, so we have some time yet.
Clint Wright, Vancouver Aquarium’s senior vice president and general manager, has ventured into Canada’s Arctic for the fourth year in a row to conduct research on narwhals, which make up a vital part of the Arctic ecosystem. Keeping track of their population size and understanding migration patterns are important in making sure their populations stay healthy. Clint will be providing regular updates on his research. This is his third blog post. His first and second posts are also available on this blog.