Summer is the coolest season for a contingent of Ocean Wise scientists spending weeks in Canada’s Arctic, gathering data about fragile ecosystems and little-known species in this rapidly changing region.
With only a short window of time to gather data, multiple teams are spending their summer in the region for ongoing research. Studies underway include the distribution of microplastics in Arctic waters; tagging and tracking narwhals, Greenland sharks and other Arctic species; physical oceanography; studies to monitor communication between mother beluga whales and their calves; and an underwater survey of Arctic marine species.
“The Arctic is changing at an incredible rate,” said Eric Solomon, director of Arctic Programs for Ocean Wise. “The entire region regularly has record-low monthly sea ice conditions, and Arctic air temperatures continue to increase at double the rate of the global temperature increase. It’s the impact of these changes on the ecosystem, wildlife, and communities that we’re working to understand.”
Two teams of divers have been descending into crystal-clear, icy waters near Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. This marks the third year the research divers have tracked surveying nearshore marine life at locations around Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, using the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) as a base of operations, but for 2017, the project has an added aspect intended to celebrate our natural heritage and ensure a brighter future for wildlife. On Friday, Aug. 25, the team’s dive was among those counted for BioBlitz Canada 150, a cross-Canada project to collect data on species discovered from sea to sea to sea, and to create Canada’s “nature selfie.”
The Arctic Marine Ecology Benchmarking project, led by Ocean Wise, documents different marine life and habitats in nearshore ecosystems, assist with CHARS future planning, and provide baseline data for the conservation and effective management of Canada’s Arctic environment. The project began in 2015, in collaboration with Polar Knowledge Canada (POLAR), the federal agency responsible for advancing Canada’s knowledge of the Arctic and for strengthening Canadian leadership in polar science and technology.
Ocean Wise is a global ocean conservation organization focused on protecting and restoring our world’s oceans. Building on the roots of the Vancouver Aquarium, which started as a community-based not-for-profit organization, Ocean Wise aims to inspire people in every corner of the planet to participate in creating healthy oceans. The transformation is a natural evolution of Vancouver Aquarium’s 61 years of conservation research, education and engagement, extending its world-renowned leadership to Ocean Wise, and committing its positive impact to other parts of the world.
Follow along here as Ocean Wise scientists send updates from the Arctic as they carry out these research projects.