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2015 Summer Arctic Trip

August 4, 2015


Blog post from August 4th:

Today was a day filled to the brim with new and exciting adventure. After getting some sleep on the Via Canada Train, (which left from Thompson the previous night and was heading to Churchill) we all awoke around 7:30. Julie then quizzed us on our new knowledge of the Plant ID Book, and all of us passed!! Our recent understanding of the environment has shot through the roof, mostly thanks to the tedious task of memorizing all those Latin names for the plants. After enjoying breakfast and getting our things together, the train pulled into our destination  - Churchill! 

At the Churchill train station, we met up with Jill Larkin, who is a Canadian Ranger and works with Parks Canada. She and three Junior Canadian Rangers were patiently awaiting our arrival, and we were so happy to be greeted by friendly faces!! (Side note - everyone in Canada is crazy nice!) We then all piled into a bus that was headed to the CNSC. On our way, we saw a sub-mature, female polar bear!!!!! It was absolutely incredible to see the creature with our own eyes. A little further down the road, we got to see some beluga whales in the bay. So much wildlife in just a 20-minute ride!! 

We then arrived at the CNSC, which is an eco-friendly complex that accommodates scientists who are conducting research in the Arctic. It is a wonderful facility with an even more wonderful staff. We got a quick rundown of the rules of the facility, got settled into our rooms, and ate some lunch. We then all met again for a lesson on polar bear safety from Jill. For anyone who is worried - as long as we are vigilant, follow protocol, and stay close to the bear monitor (the adult who carries a rifle and is in charge of looking out for polar bears), then we are perfectly safe. In fact, we began to learn about the aboriginals' respect for and understanding of the creature, and the desire to live in harmony with them. 

We got a tour of the CNSC and then got right down to business. We learned about all of the materials we will need out in the field, and then went out!! We traveled a bit outside of Churchill to a site and did some practice, which included measuring out the site and the transects; identifying herbs, shrubs, trees, and lichen; and laying out quadrates and collecting macro-data. Before we knew it, it was time for dinner, so we headed back to the CNSC for a delicious meal! Time just flies when you're having fun!

After dinner, Nicole (an ornithologist who is helping us on our trip) gave us a presentation on the basics of bird watching. The Junior Canadian Rangers (all of whom are from Churchill) then gave the rest of us a tour of Churchill High School, and in the same building is a movie theater, the public library, a church, a bowling alley, the town gym, a playground, and so much more. After our tour, we went to watch the beluga whales for a while!!! 

It has been a very, very busy day, and we are all a little tired but absolutely ecstatic to get started on our first real transects tomorrow!!!

-Campbell Knobloch, Park School student