We are well into our narwhal research trip and… no sight of narwhals. Should they have ventured by our camp outside of Grise Fiord, Nunavut I would have seen them early this morning because there was no wind and the water was like glass. Alas, there weren’t any narwhals, but I did see jellies rippling in the water during my 3 am polar bear shift (didn’t see any polar bears either).

We (our team of scientists, animal husbandry experts and Fisheries and Oceans Canada staff) just need to be patient. We didn’t see them until well into our trip last year, and this year may very well be the same. There’s already talk about doing things a little differently in 2015 and perhaps venturing further north where more narwhals have been sighted.

In the absence of narwhals, I’ve enjoyed seeing other Arctic animals, like seabirds, ringed seals and even a muskox. I watched a ringed seal investigate the floats attached to the tops of our nets, and I had a good chance to see a lone female muskox as she made her way through our camp. Trying to fix the broken furnace in the communal tent has been keeping us busy too.

Once again, Nigel Hussey of the University of Windsor has been more successful than us, catching a Greenland shark, though he opted to let this one go because it didn’t seem strong enough for tagging.

So, it looks as though we’ll have to wait a while yet before we can continue our research: satellite tagging narwhals and collecting samples to better understand how they live and where they go. If only we lived in the future and we had that information already!

resize thumbnail 2011-10-07 - Our World Wolf Eel and Clint - Meighan MakarchukClint Wright, Vancouver Aquarium’s senior vice president and general manager, has ventured into Canada’s Arctic for the fifth 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 second blog post of this series.

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