Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The time has come the Walrus said... talk of many things. Well we are into our 8th week here in Churchill and unfortunately I will be leaving tomorrow morning, a few days earlier than planned. Erinn will be staying on til Wednesday to finish up a few things so expect at least one more blog. Slowly researchers have been finishing up their work and leaving so the lab has been a lot quieter these days. There is a lot to think about and reflect upon as this field season wraps up. First I'd like to extend a huge thank you to all of the staff and fellow researchers at the CNSC- it was great getting to know all of you and to learn about everyone's different projects. Thank you to the staff who answered my many questions, cooked delicious meals, fueled our truck every morning, helped us sample, bear monitored and generally kept us on track and out of trouble (mostly). The unique community up here is what really made this field season a success and is what causes me to think about next summer already- I look forward to scheming more olymp-a-thons, scavenger hunts and bay dip costumes, while exploring the tundra and falling into as many bodies of water as possible.

One of my last days of sampling on our bluff was definitely one of my favourites. Strong winds and a high tide created large waves, turning our bluff into a slip and slide with rainbows visible everytime a wave crashed into the rocks. It has been such a unique experience to see the transition from frozen bay to wild ocean.
Here pool 30 is swallowed by the we didn't sample it that day, we thought it a wee bit dangerous, oh yeah and a polar bear was enjoying the surf far too close to it. I bid a fond farewell to our bluff today, the next time I visit it I plan on completing the one project that eluded us this year at da bluff- removing a rusty old barrel from a pool near the road. I tried today but to no avail, I will have to come better equipped next year.

In addition to our work, other exciting science has continued this week. Below our researcher friend Kuz teaches more about the International Tundra Experiment that she is working on up here and puts us to work measuring soil temperatures.
Well as Ingrid, Erinn and I have mentioned frequently during our time here, Churchill is full of wonders. One wonder I was fortunate to view last night was the northern lights, visible with a great green hue between the hours of 2am and 4am. Another one of my favourite things about Churchill is the abundance of Common Butterworts.I became fascinated with this plant when I was first here in 07. It is carnivourous and uses sticky mucilage on its basal rosette to trap insects that crawl across it. The leaves then slowly curl and digest them. It is a great strategy for nitrogen poor soils and a plant with a shallow root structure. And with that science factoid of the day I will end my final blog of the season. Stay tuned for Churchill 2010!

Monday, August 3, 2009

A correction

Just a note to say my information was a little off in my last post. The Olymp-a-thon was NOT the first ever Olympics held at the CNSC...they have happened before and reportedly included a bowling event. Let's hope that next year brings the CNSC's third ever Olympic event!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Let the games begin...

Today we woke up to more fog (surprise, surprise), however this didn't stop us from getting some work done at some bluffs close to the CNSC. This afternoon we had a successful string of hours of work at our site and were even fortunate enough to actually soak up some rays as the sun made an appearance! But to take a break from the description of sampling I'd like to tell you about another exciting event. As Erinn eluded to in her post yesterday, we held an event here at the CNSC on Thursday night: the first every CNSC Olymp-a-thon! As far as I know this is the first event of such science depth and athleticism to be held at such a site and the Planktoneers really have to thank our co-conspirator Kat as well as our planning committee for making it such a great way for all the researchers to mingle and show of their field work skills.

The event had several main events...

1) Wader Relay- this involved a team relay where researchers had to bike and run in hip or chest waders. In between each leg of the relay, teammates had to quickly transfer the waders from one teammate to another. This made for some crazy biking and interesting strategy.

Erinn completes a quick turn.

Brandon loses his waders during the biking leg.

Kuz is helped out of her waders.
Jess sprints towards the finish line, into the arms of the opposite team...

Me running in waders slightly too big for me.

Tom's gumby? legs.

2) The Great Daphnia Hunt- with only a bucket and 2 minutes, teams competed to find the most daphnia from a specified pool.

This turned out to be quite the serious event...

3) The Fieldbook Mosquito Clap of Thunder. Ummm need I say more?

4) Ptarmigan Round-Up! Not too many were ugh "successful" at this one (videos coming soon):

(thanks for Riley for this superb graphics job).

5) Down and Dirty- aka the great gummie worm search.

So overall it was a great time had by all, but I feel the need to recognize the teams here.

FIRST PLACE: Erinn, Avril, Tom and Brandon

SECOND PLACE: Jess, Carla, me and Kat

THIRD PLACE: Nick, Christy, Kuz and Shawn

And I'm sorry to our 4th place team and our distinguished judges Kristin and Jay as blogger won't let me add more photos!

Well until another day!