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The crew eats dinner in a Dolgan chum in Khatanga, Russia.The crew eats dinner in a Dolgan chum in Khatanga, Russia.

A WWF-led research team, a Canon photographer, and crew traveled to Siberia’s Arctic coast on the Laptev Sea, to help solve a scientific mystery. The Laptev Linkages expedition was sponsored by Canon.

We each had ten minutes of hot water, and it felt fantastic to finally have a shower. The boat docked in Khatanga around 8 PM and cleaning up was our first order of business. It would be the last night on the boat for the team as our Russian hosts busily arranged new flights and lodging for the team’s return.

As luck would have it, our last day in Khatanga is also the town’s birthday- 380 years old! After packing up our gear and dropping it at the airport, we have a couple of hours to take in the festivities. My favorite- the Dolgan chum. What would appear similar to a North American teepee, the chum was the original house for the Dolgan people and made of reindeer hide and long poles. The chum I visited was staffed by a two generations of ladies who were minding a cooking fire in the center and churning out seemingly endless quantities of traditional foods and hot tea.  I’ve never seen such a variety of fish preparations from smoked, to salted, to pickled, and even raw.  Little reindeer rounded out the nibbles. It was a great way to end our time in the Russian north.

We’ll spend one evening in the capital city of Krasnoyarsk and then take a longer flight back west to Moscow. After grabbing a quick shower at our hotel, we meet up at a traditional Siberian restaurant for a celebratory dinner of- you guessed it- reindeer and fish! Several toasts are made and good company shared as we enjoy our last night together. Conversations drift back to the expedition and the next phase of sample analysis. We are all quite keen to see what these new samples reveal but that will take some time and collaboration with partners leaving us free to only speculate as we talk into the late evening.

It’s been a great adventure to this still quite wild and remote part of Russia and I feel fortunate to have shared the experience.

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