Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Back from northern Labrador

Sorry for the delay since the last posting. I was up in northern Labrador doing wildlife research since mid-July.

I was monitoring the effects of PCB pollution from a military radar site on seabirds breeding in Saglek Bay (220 kms north of the town of Nain). The Department of National Defence cleaned up the PCB-contaminated soil around the radar site about 7 years ago. I was working this summer with a larger scientific team assessing the effectiveness of the clean-up in reducing PCB levels in the terrestrial and marine ecosystems nearby.

One day we were working on a small seabird island and one of the crew came running up, saying there was a polar bear swimming towards the island. We packed up our gear in hurry and jumped in our Zodiac. We drove the boat back and forth and encouraged the bear to swim back to where it came from. A co-worker Tom Sheldon took the photo above when the bear climbed out of the sea.

An amazing animal! So big and powerful, yet so agile. It ran up the hill and then paused to look at us. Then it ambled off slowly in the other direction.

Saglek Bay is the southern boundary of the new Torngat Mountains National Park. The Park has an incredible abundance of polar and black bears, caribou, seabirds, arctic char, seals, whales and much more. One of the seabird islands we worked on had a pair of immature peregrine falcons regularly hunting the black guillemots we were studying. It was facinating to watch the falcons swoop down after the guillemots. They often missed, but we found several guillemot carcasses that the peregrines had killed.

I will get back to posting about my paddling adventures soon.


Michael said...

Gee Neil, did that bear grab and eat you mid-sentence? If not, finish the thought. Don't leave us hanging like that! LOL

Anonymous said...

nice story about the animals hehe.
im from nain and i would love to see and explore it like that, but im going to saglek bay this summer :)