When you think of arctic wildlife, threatened ecosystems and climate change, the first thing that springs to mind for many people are polar bears. While polar bears are beautiful creatures, copepods are the stars of Dr Ceri Lewis’s research and for good reason: changes in their numbers could have drastic knock-on effects on the health of the marine ecosystem.Read more
Karyn, Michelle and I ready the gear and load up the helicopter. We’ll head northwest today and cover some new habitat to the southwest of Point Hope. The village of Point Hope is one of the oldest Inupiat sites in Alaska and is still a largely traditional village to this day. As such they live close to the land and the sea, relying on wildlife for healthy and affordable protein- including fish, caribou, seals, whale, and polar bear. Spring however is the time where focus turns to one single and very important species- the Bowhead whale.Read more
Fourteen years. It’s difficult to believe that this will be my fourteenth consecutive year conducting polar bear captures in Alaska. From my first fall capture season in 1998, I always assume that each season and year will be my last such opportunity. Why? Because so few people have the opportunity to work out on the frozen seas, and fewer yet with an animal as magnificent as the polar bear. It is both an opportunity and a real honour and one I do not take for granted – every flight, every day, every year.Read more
Dr Helen Findlay, of Plymouth Marine Laboratory, describes the hard work that went into creating the largest sampling hole yet, and how the ice base scientists use these access points to the sea below.
“Today we drilled another hole in the sea ice through to the seawater below. It’s an impressive 1.8 metres long by 1 metre wide, and the sea ice we had to drill through was about 1.7 metres thick. This ice hole is a special one because it is going to be used for running experiments rather than just routine sampling of the seawater.Read more
The storm that ‘drifted’ over us on Sunday didn’t really show its full strength until later on in the week. Winds increased to about 20 knots, gusting 30 knots at times, with snow being blown across the ground it reminded me of being a kid walking across a beach on a stormy autumn day with sand blowing all around me. It doesn’t take long for the winds to transform the snow, and drifts quickly formed around all our tents.Read more
After 77 miles in temperatures dipping as low as -42°C, the polar explorers have completed the first phase of their expedition: a speedy 11-day crossing of Prince Gustaf Adolf Sea. Arriving at the Catlin Ice Base at 7:45pm on Wednesday 23 March, the weary team were welcomed with warming cups of tea and a hearty meal from Ice Base Chef Fran Orio.Read more
Peter Ewins and Rhys Gerholdt of WWF Canada are with an ABC News crew from New York in Wapusk National Park, observing the world’s largest concentration of maternity dens for polar bears.
They shot this lovely footage of a polar bear cub, and another of a polar bear and her offspring, during the trip, showing how one mum and her cub behave as they emerge from a den, and a baby bear playing at the mouth of a den.Read more
At the Catlin Ice Base conditions are cooler than those faced by the expedition (-37°C) but reasonably calm weather has made setting up camp easier than expected. All 19 tents are erected, and over the week the operations team has put its efforts into preparing two sampling ice holes.Read more
Listening to the rumble of a twin otter airplane’s engines, squashed beside a huge pile of equipment and with eyes peeled on the scene outside an ice-crusted window; that’s how the explorers and scientists began their Arctic research mission last week. Clear, calm and relatively warm conditions (-32°C) so far have made for a speedy start for the four polar explorers. Their current daily pace is 6-7 nautical miles a day (about 11-13 kilometres).Read more
Morris had found another set of tracks of a female with single cub (the commonest litter size this year – clear evidence of the continuing declines in mean numbers of cubs emerging from the maternity dens). But on the way there, we came across tracks of a female and THREE cubs!Read more