euro1   71

Herschel Island 2013: Land of the bear.

(Photo: S. Weege) Isla in a cloud of mosquitos (Photo: S. Weege) Isla in a cloud of mosquitos Saturday, 13th of July 2013
 
Ute, Hugues, and I are having a day in camp today. Hugues is taking care of our "new" cabin, the old Royal Canadian Telegraph Station Building, which served as the ranger cabin in the past.
 
The rangers got a brand new cabin last year. Through an agreement of AWI with Yukon Parks, AWI researchers will get preferred accommodation in their old cabin for the next five years.
 
We got the cabin, but we had to get some essentials like bunk beds, mattresses, and kitchen utensils. I had the chance today to look at my data of the first field week, and to organize the samples from the mud channel running on the slump. Ute is spending the first of her three upcoming lab days in our big lab tent.

(Photo: U. Bastian) Soil sampling and describing by the core drilling team.(Photo: U. Bastian) Soil sampling and describing by the core drilling team.Micha and his team are making an unbelievable job of getting up to three cores every day, which translates into a lot of lab work for Ute.
 
Drilling really takes a lot of time and energy. You need good mood and warm thoughts to keep warm, while describing the vegetation, ice and permafrost soil, and swatting mosquitoes.
 
It also takes lots of energy to get about 80 kg of equipment up the hills and back to camp.
 
Coring itself is tiring, as you have to lift the drill out of the ground every ten centimeters to free the screw of mud, which is very sticky on Herschel.
 
(Photo: S. Weege) The coring team working to get the core barrel out of the ground which got stuck. Buzzing around are hundreds of mosquitoes (Photo: S. Weege) The coring team working to get the core barrel out of the ground which got stuck. Buzzing around are hundreds of mosquitoes If you hit a rock, the cutting blades break, and all along you have to hope the drill will not get stuck before you hopefully retrieve the targeted 2 m core.
 
Two days ago we found that we really are in bear country. The only remaining weather station of mine got pulled down.
 
There was plenty of incriminating evidence of the suspect. Several fresh holes surrounded the crime scene, fresh lemming blood was discovered on the vegetation, and a handful of brown fur was trapped between all the cables of the weather station.
 
Was the bear angry we had invaded his territory with an alien looking device? Was he just happily hunting lemmings when it came in the way?
 
Was he just an itchy bear, looking for a "tree" to scratch his behind, here, north of the tree line? We might not ever know, and fortunately, we didn't get to interview the bear when we returned to set the station back up.
 
(Photo: S. Weege) Ute and her midnight sampling activities in the lab tent. (Photo: S. Weege) Ute and her midnight sampling activities in the lab tent. Looking through a pair of binoculars at the slump next morning I was shocked to discover a brown silhouette moving about the site of the weather station.
 
The bear! Again! So we armed ourselves to the teeth with bear spray and bear bangers, and we all went to my field site to check the instruments and to drill the next holes.
 
We set the station back up, but because Boris and Hugues were surveying on the water, we had to walk back to camp.
 
On our two hours walk back to camp we found bear tracks on the beach, and tracks leading towards the camp. So from now on everybody is now even more careful with nightly walks around in camp, or to the "bathroom" if the generators are off and everything is quiet in camp.
 
We send you greetings from bear country from nine healthy and loud bear scaring, laughing, field scientists on Herschel Island.
 
 
Written by Stefanie and Boris
 
 
 
 
 
 
Share