Saturday, August 02, 2008

Part III, Day 3: 080710

This morning was a bit rough. My alarm went off at 5:20 am, as we wanted to be in the truck driving away from the station by 5:45 to catch the low tide at Button Bay well before 7:30. Breakfast was therefore basic, just a bit of toast and jam, and three of us were on the road only a few minutes later than planned. When my alarm went off, my roommate David started to get up, but I assured him his breakfast was still some 2 hours away, and he happily returned to sleep. I was jealous, but marine biology waits for no one.

The weather was warm, sunny, and clear, with just a light breeze blowing. We drove our little Zodiac over, after dragging it down the muddy low-tide part of the boat ramp. The little backwater area that the boat ramp is in is very shallow, and at low tide is almost completely dry. It took us about 10 minutes to haul the little boat down over the rocky mud and into the water, a bit of unexpected hard exercise early in the morning.

Other people, for example Parks Canada staff, are apparently not as insane as we are, and we saw no other humans on the West side of the river at that very early hour. Fort Prince of Wales is a national historic site, administered by Parks Canada, so when we walked across the peninsula, a stroll across tundra of perhaps 300 metres, I was technically breaking the law by carrying a firearm in a national park. We’d been previously advised to carry a shotgun for polar bear deterrence, in preference to the quite-legal starter pistols also available, so I didn’t feel too bad about my little bit of criminality. It wasn’t loaded, anyway – the shells were still in my pocket.

The Northern corner of Button Bay, at low tide, viewed from atop the narrow peninsula we crossed. Fort Prince of Wales is just out of frame to the right.

The Churchill river and Port of Churchill, viewed from atop the narrow peninsula, looking back Southeast. I’m not certain exactly where Parks Canada land ends and Crown land begins, but I’m not too worried about such technicalities right now.

We returned to the CNSC for lunch at noon, and in the afternoon visited some ponds and creeks, and cleared my traps again. My bottle traps at Bluffs A included a large dytiscid larva, a monstrous-looking example of genus Dytiscus, perhaps 5 cm long with big sharp nasty pointy fangs.

Tomorrow we plan to visit a different bay on the river side of that narrow peninsula, a few kilometres up-river. This will require two trips in the Zodiac, since it can carry only 4 people when at maximum capacity. We are also scheduled for our first of 3 trips out dredging with Mike, of Sea North Tours, in a larger and more reliable boat on Hudson Bay proper.

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