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!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your reply to a question I posted asking about Brent nests and predators. I can only imagine how interesting and exciting it must be to conduct research walking along a fossil strewn beach on a place like Devon Island. Are you allowed to gather any fossils?
    Reading your blog describing the Brent nesting sites really brings home how very remote their breeding sites are and the extraordinary distances they travel in the course of their migration south- eastwards to our part of the planet. For those of us whose interest exceeds any real knowledge on the subject it makes for very educational reading. The other question I wanted to ask - though perhaps not related to your research is have you met or encountered any members of the Inuit communities - or is it too remote for anyone to actually live there apart from visiting scientists/researchers.
    Thank you, please keep the brilliant blog going. B. McPolin.