Here we are, halfway into our journey up in the Canadian Arctic. It is truly rewarding to officially say that we are in the field, after months of organization and arrangements in anticipation of this eagerly awaited expedition.
So far, it’s been nothing but great! We had the opportunity to suit up and to sink into that enchanted under-water world almost every single day.
‘No polar bears in sight’, says Logan, our Inuit guide: the divers can hop in.
Thanks to him, we get to dive safely and get to immerse ourselves a bit more in the Inuit culture, as Logan brings up anecdotes about his life in Salliq, Nunavut, where he has spent all 30 years of his life. It is very interesting to note the major cultural contrast shared between all of us.
As the days go by, what we get to see as we explore those turquoise-Caribbean-like waters never fails to amaze us: grandiose underwater canopies, diversified algal beds and intriguing-looking invertebrates. Doesn’t seem unreal to think that we are the first divers to “set fins” in this region of the globe and study those imposing kelp forests? Sure, does to me!
Feet soaked, pruned fingers but grinning from ear to ear we then come back onboard after a successful algae sampling session. The warmth of the ship, coziness of dry clothes and mouth-watering smells of a freshly cooked meal by our incredible cook, Billy, receiving us with open arms: “make yourself at home!” is what’s waiting for us back “home”.
While our team is at sea, our fellow scientists are on station and busy collecting data for the larger project. The lab and the deck areas are buzzing with activity as oceanographers, marine biologists and geologists are operating benthic and pelagic trawls, box core, CTD rosette, zooplankton and phytoplankton nets. It is quite inspiring and brilliant to witness so many people mobilizing to make the science happen. Being surrounded by this team of marine scientists also makes us realize how little we know about the Arctic Ocean: so much to discover!
As for the rest of our time, we invest it into keeping ourselves busy with drop camera surveys, analysing images, processing our beloved kelp and taking morphology samples of the collected individuals, pressing some un-familiar and funky-looking red algae and (possibly) taking a little afternoon snooze.
Not a bad life , eh 😉