The team is underwater! Boo ya! We had a gorgeous day for our first dive. Glassy seas and cold clear skies. As we were anchoring in a spectaular cove on an island just east of Pond Inlet, our research technican/actual hawk-eyed skipper Trevor Arreak spotted a pod of narwhals a few hundred meters away at the entrance to the cove. We all excitedly squinted to see them and moved out of the cove to get a bit closer!
When we finally turned back to our to our surprise 3 whales were inside it, tusks out and spraying away! Nice show for us!
Now I know what you are all thinking. Come on, we don't care about the marine mammals... please tell us about the kelp! Oh okay fine!
The kelp hero in these waters seems to be Agarum cribosum, which is a bit unusual. Normally this species is found in deeper depths or only makes up a portion of the assemblage. We are not sure why it is doing so well in the shallows here. It also has an odd shape with fewer holes than we are used to. It is all a bit mysterious!
These Agarum kelp forests were smaller than those in Salliq, but they were teaming with fish and animals. Arctic cod and sculpins were hiding in the fronds and getting in our way while we counted sea urchins. The rocks were coated with giant anemones, colourful chitons, and beautiful pink coralline algae.
All tired and happy we made it back in with a boat full of samples. At the beach we found that a successful Narwhal hunt had taken place nearby. It was a full on community event as everyone sliced off meat and fat and the hunter took home the prize tusk. Cara and Trevor, our assistants left with a bag of meat each, and we tried some raw. Back in the day, the blubber would have been an important source of fuel for the community (there is no wood remember!), and it is still used by some, especially camping. This carcass was still being carved up when we arrived.