We’re here, and we’re armed.
We arrived in Churchill, Manitoba on Tuesday evening. There are no roads to Churchill, so the options are to fly or to drive to Thompson and take the train. One student and I flew, while three others drove with the supplies for our group and the upcoming field course and then came the rest of the way by train.
Yesterday we spent unpacking our equipment and then in the afternoon we had our bear safety orientation and firearms training. Being in polar bear country requires taking steps to keep researchers and students as safe as possible. This includes preventive action like working in groups and having someone on bear watch at all times. Those of us with licenses will also be on bear guard much of the time, carrying shotguns as a last resort means of protection. As such, it was good to get out and practice some shooting with the experts from the station.
Today, like the last two days, it was cold (5 C) and rainy, but we got out for a little bit of collecting this morning and found some specimens from various taxa we’re focusing on. The real collecting will begin once the weather gets warmer and when the rest of the researchers and students come.
We have two large liquid nitrogen vapour shippers for our specimens, and lots of collecting implements. Basically, we are after everything that moves and even stuff that doesn’t.
No polar bear sightings yet, but we did watch a pod of belugas this morning for a few minutes. Some of the students are eager to get out in the boats for some marine dredging, but the bay is still full of ice floes.
Click here for the Churchill fieldwork posts.