Blog

Transition

  • 1758 Gateau de Laisa pour concours Nunavut Day ©EB
  • 1447 Recuperation donnees station meteo glacier Grise Fiord ©EB
  • 1408 Raymond degage glace derriere Vagabond ©EB
  • 1808 Leonie et France dans les glaces ©EB

Vagabond is at sea again. The second attempt was a success. Spring high tide and Kavavow's powerful speed boat were needed to leave Grise Fiord beach. Launching Vagabond means the end of a transition period.

From land to sea. From overwintering to sailing. Towards an hectic scientific cruise!

From solo to crew since France and Léonie came back on July 22nd, after 15days isolation in Ottawa. Joyful reunion upset by France's father death the following day. We are staying close to the family despite the distance.

Spring has passed in no time. Snow melted, tundra bloomed, rivers are running again. Sea ice was spotted with beautiful melt ponds for a while, until it broke up mid-July.

Transition towards positive temperatures, for sure, but it is still snowing regularly, even in summer. What a difference with the 50°C reached in the southern part of the country!

For the past few weeks hunters were bringing a small boat, on a sledge, just in case, to the floeedge. This is where they could catch again walrus, bearded seal, beluga or narwhal. Now boats are replacing snowmobiles, until the ice will freeze again.

To reach the glacier, no more skis but crampons. Without snow, I could recover the lost weather station and rescue the data logger, crucial data for the Asuittuq glacier study. Good field work!

Since I came back over two months ago, thanks to permanent daylight, our good old solar panels (2004!) are able to supply all needed power to live on board Vagabond, this is very satisfactory!

On July 1st, there has been no Canada Day celebrations in Grise Fiord after the residential schools scandal (50s to 90s) and the discovery of the remains of more than one thousands children.

On July 6th, Inuit leader Mary Simon was named General Governor of Canada, an historical step towards reconciliation. Larry Adlaluk's book is bringing a strong account on how much government made Inuit suffered in the 50s. The documentary Wounded Healers is hopeful and optimistic.

On July 9th, it was Nunavut Day. In Grise Fiord we had a fishing derby, a small boat race, a cake decoration contest, games, feast, music... and happiness to gather and celebrate.

Transition in Health Centres: it is becoming harder to work as a nurse in Nunavut and there is a lack of nurses. After servicing for 30 years in Nunavut, including the last 10 years in Grise Fiord, our friend Joanne went back to her Acadie. A very moving departure for her and the entire community as they faced three sudden deaths last winter, while there has not been any for eight years.

Transition from North to South for Vagabond's crew as well, from Arctic to Subarctic, as I will be in charge of a new research platform in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon. But we will keep running Vagabond in the High Arctic in summer!

See Ellesmere 2021 photos.

Vagabond's position.


Ocean science from its frozen surface

  • 1428 Terry snack devant glacier Jakeman ©EB
  • 1000 Eric CTD Fram Fiord ©Terry Noah
  • 1600 Oceanographie 520km de banquise ©EB
  • 1648 Releve hydrgraphique devant glacier Sverdrup avec Tom ©EB

Like most glaciers, Grise Fiord glacier is retreating rapidly. This is shown by the study for which we were digging in poles with Jimmy on May 21st. But what happens to the meltwater? What influence does it have on the ocean? What nutrient supply can we observe? These are questions from the team we have been working for since 2019.

This year, in addition to the summer cruise, we are taking the pulse of the ocean before the melt, before the glacial rivers appear.

First glacier, Sverdrup, north coast of Devon Island. It takes us three days to reach it. The sea ice in Jones Sound is chaotic this year and on top of that, we spend a day in the tent due to blizzard. I team up with Tom Kiguktak. Together we did a long journey from Resolute Bay in 2012, it is a pleasure to share this new field work. We have the same age. Having become a father a few years ago and employed full time in town, he has less time to go out hunting and has not gone out for a long time; also he is extremely happy! Before hiring him for a week, I wrote to his employer to justify his request for unpaid leave. We enjoy every moment like kids and we quickly forget about the rough ice, the wind, the skidoo or auger breakdowns, the hours of filtering sea water sampled from under the ice or deep in the ocean. Some concerns for our second camp, where we spent three nights in an area with many bears (we watch seven of them)... happy to find it intact every evening!

"We are safe, everything is going to be fine, we don't taste good, we smell skidoo," Tom tells me one evening as he steps into the tent, after checking around and observing two bears. One of them is quite close, hunting a young seal. He will eat mainly the skin and the fat, and will leave the meat to the foxes and birds. If we think that a bear is roaming outside, we must signal our presence by saying something like "hum".

I'm never tired of the incredible hunting stories that Tom likes to tell quietly in the tent. He could be the author of dozens of documentaries and adventure books!

Second Glacier, Jakeman, Ellesmere Island, east of Grise Fiord. This time I'm heading out with Terry Noah. He is not yet 30, he too has two children and has started his own business, Ausuittuq Adventures. In addition he processes some of the food he hunts or fishes. Last summer, we had welcomed him aboard Vagabond with his family. And it was him who had brought a young seal to Léonie in 2012!

Not far from the glacier, Terry has just set up a hut that we are inaugurating. Better shelter than a tent against bears or storms. The pack ice here is nice and smooth, but thick fog could be a deterrent... we reach the glacier front as well and can start the hydrographic transect.

In total, 520 km covered in 10 days, 26 profiles with the probe (23 auger holes and 3 "borrowed" seal holes), 42 water samples and frozen filters, depths from 8m to 620m (winch max.).

See the Ellesmere 2021 album.