Updated: Sep 18, 2019
Where is ArcticKelp going next? To the fjords of Pond Inlet! The team has changed a bit. It is now Ladd Johnson (sorry... Herr Professor Johnson Big P Phycologist), Katie MacGregor (DFO Post-doc, fellow echinophile and a tough as nails cold water diver) and Karen Filbee-Dexter (me again… the lucky postdoc that left the ship in Naujaat just BEFORE all the polar bears, walrus and sea ice turned up!).
But hey no matter! New place, new adventure. Ladd and I arrived in Pond Inlet Monday evening, and took an official taxi to the research station where we joined a very tired DFO team (Chris, Kimberley and Katie). They had just been camping on Ragged Island in crazy winds for 10 days. The wind even blew away a tent. We helped them pack and caught up that first night.
The second day we woke up ready to go. Ladd jumped in a helicopter to help Kim and Chris pack down the field station on Ragged Island. He even brought a rifle for bears. Talk about an aerial view!
While the Professor was off sight-seeing Katie and I went to 'Arctic Canadian Tire' (aka the dump) to find some old boxes for shipping. It was full of seriously cool and useful field gear. And it also has a nice view of the town… surely just as good as from the chopper! We also grabbed our dive gear! It was all here waiting for us (thank you to the researchers on the Amundsen for shipping it up and dropping it off!).
We met our two research assistants: Cara Killiktree and Trevor Arreak. Both are Pond Inlet natives and current and past graduates of the Arctic College. We are really excited to have them along! They are both really knowledgeable about the oceanography here, which is very helpful. We also lined up a boat rental through the Nunavut Fisheries Association that will be a great dive platform. We are launching it using an ATV… which is quite exciting.
We sleuthed out some potential dive sites using a drop camera on our second day. Was magical driving the boat through the sheer cliffs and seeing glaciers peeking through on all sides. The kelp forests are also super interesting. Mostly because something seems to be limiting their distribution here and there are more grazing sea urchins. There is also lots of Agarum, which is not nearly as dominant in other areas… But why? So many questions! We hope to learn more when we dive on it properly.
On our way back ‘hawk-eyed Johnson’ spotted a wolf on the side of a sheer cliff. Closer inspection from Cara… a polar bear. Amazing!!! We all freaked out, drove closer and watched it scramble up the rocks.
Not a bad start!