It’s been light out 24 hours a day for a while now in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut. Although the sun has been setting, it’s only been dropping just below the horizon for a brief rest before popping back into view.
Yesterday marked a seasonal change: the sun rose and won’t set again until mid-July. Tired after a long day of travel back from the field, I climbed into bed and fell fast asleep, only to awake at 3:00, completely stumped as to whether it was 3:00 a.m. or whether, in my exhausted state, I had slept through until 3:00 p.m. the following afternoon. The sun, of course, was of absolutely no help at all and the power had gone out so the clock just blinked at me stupidly. So I did what any right-minded person would do: I took my chances, rolled over and went back to sleep. It was the right call, as it turns out.
Things are definitely changing. The Canadian geese have returned to this part of the Arctic, fat after a winter of gorging on grass in the south. The roads have turned from ice to mud, making it harder to get around by snow machine. One must pick their routes carefully to find ice and snow to travel on around town. An ATV is becoming the preferred vehicle now, but that’ll be a muddy affair until the roads dry up, leaving potholes in place of puddles.
It can also be hard to choose one’s clothing this time of year. At least in mid-winter, you know that it’ll be excruciatingly cold and can dress accordingly. Yesterday, the temperature seemed to jump all around as the sun appeared through the low clouds then ducked back behind again and the wind played along. This is definitely a time for layering.
I’ll be heading for Cambridge Bay next, just for a day, for some meetings and to check on our dive gear and life support systems that we use to collect fish and invertebrates. Then I’ll start the two-day trip home. It’s been a good trip but I’ll be looking forward to getting home. For now, I’m off to spend the evening with the Junior Canadian Rangers. Let’s hope my floor hockey skills are better than last time.
Blog post written by Eric Solomon, Vancouver Aquarium’s director of Arctic Connections. Eric is in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut and traveling along the eastern coast of King William Island with the Canadian Rangers Ocean Watch to collect important data about our oceans as part of the Ikaarvik: Barriers to Bridges program.