Cool job

  • 20200609 Prelevements eau site pH ©EB
  • 20200609 Bouteille Niskin sous la banquise ©EB
  • 20200603 Benthos Arctic Bay ©EB
  • 20200530 Eric rejoint le site de manip en kite-ski ©France Pinczon du Sel

To study the coralline growth, in addition to diving to regularly recover some of the samples prepared in September and to check the various sensors (pH, salinity, light, temperature), we have a protocol for water sampling at both sites. It's my job of the day.

Even after twenty years of field work on the ice, I still think this job is cool.

On skis, I'm hauling my sled to the first site where I set up the tent and the mini lab. I open the hole, it's easy at this time of the year even if the ice thickness is more than 1.6 meters, and I lower the Niskin bottle down to 15m depth, right next to the coralline samples. It is this water that we are looking at. Previously, to monitor the experiment, I drop the 360-degree camera give by Exocéan. Well setup in the tent, I carefully follow the protocol for filling the different bottles which will be kept either frozen either in the dark until they reach Jessica Gould's lab. She has just received a prestigious award for her work!

By VHF radio, I talk to Léonie who is usually doing this lab work on board Vagabond when it is too cold to setup a mini lab on the ice. On the Internet, I check the correct setting of the pipette. It's amazing to be so well connected in the field, having a mobile phone in winter is completely new for us! The 25 communities in Nunavut have had a cellular network since September 2019.

Zachary is coming back from hunting and stops to greet me. He offers me a skidoo ride to the next site! I just hook my sled behind his machine for the 10 minutes trip. He helps me set up the tent, we share a tea and look at some pictures. He missed a goose this morning, 3 hours south of here. I show him what the seabed looks like under our feet, he is surprised by their richness and would have bet that I took the photo in tropical waters! For sure the contrast with the ice at the surface is incredible. Three days ago, Zachary visited us at Victor Point, where we were camping with the family, and showed me a picture of a young seal lost on the ice, too far from its hole. Fifteen seals have been lost in recent weeks in the Arctic Bay region, such as the one found near Vagabond in 2012. In two days time he will go Arctic char fishing and seal hunting with his father Mishak, who is also collaborating with the SmartIce program: ice thickness surveys similar to those we regularly do for Christian Haas (co-founder of SmartIce), either alone or with him.

While finishing the water sampling, putting everything back into the sled and stopping the timelapse camera, the wind picks up gently. I'm happy to use the kite to cover most of the 4 km to Vagabond. Science, a hunter's visit, skiing, snowkiting, photography, on top or under the ice. A great day. It must be my birthday tomorrow.