Tuesday, 5 August 2014
The search is on - goose and Martian catching on Devon Island
As Stuart mentioned in his last entry the team are using Resolute PCSP base now (the team will I suspect be very glad of the facilites available including hot showers, abundant food and soft chairs!) and will be flying sorties from there to areas within reach (< 1 1/2 hours away) to look for flocks of goslings and moulting adults. In previous trips (2005 and 2007) we have limited catching to sites in W and E Bathurst Island. While we saw other catchable flocks there have been no catch attempts anywhere else in this area since the 1970s (though Western High Arctic Brant which migrate down the western US seaboard have been captured on Melville Island). The area of search will concentrate on the NW corner of Devon Island. This is the largest uninhabited island in the world. The eastern side forms a high plateau with a large (> 5000 sq mile) ice-cap while the western side is hilly and lower - including the Grinnell peninsula where the lads are searching. Devon Island is also famous for the Houghton impact crater (14 mile wide meteorite impact crater) which lies to the east of where the lads are working. Having virtually no vegetation and year-round temperatures below zero, this site is considered to be analogous to the conditions on Mars. Hence the site's 'martian' use for testing equipment and various tests on astronouts by the NASA-funded Mars Society team. Back in 2007 we saw reasonably sized flocks of Brent along fossil-strewn beaches along Devon Island's northern coast. A remarkable place. Looking forward to updates from the team!