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Waking up in Khatanga

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Pectoral Sandpiper, Khatanga, Russia. © Tom Arnbom / WWF-CanonPectoral Sandpiper, Khatanga, Russia. © Tom Arnbom / WWF-Canon

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

Following over 10 hours of flying from Moscow up through central Siberia, 4 hours of time change, several hours of discussion and paperwork with the local authorities upon arrival, and several hours of waiting in airports- I curled up in my sleeping bag and drifted off to a solid sleep. I awoke to the light rocking and low diesel hum familiar to all who have spent time on boats.

The Taimyr. © Geoff York / WWF

Perched on a small bunk in a communal area that sleeps 16, our group of 10 is sound asleep save one other. Intrepid birder Tom Arnbom was up at 4 to take advantage of early light ( not that it gets dark here much at all). I make some instant coffee and head out to the deck. It’s about 4 degrees C this morning, and wisps of fog are rising from the river. The town is absolutely quiet save the occasional sea gull calling out from a small bluff above us. The classic gold domes of the lone Russian Orthodox church gleams in the morning sun.  The Khatanga river is quite large here and flows due North into the Laptev Sea- our destination. Tonight we’ll start leg one, a 15 hour trip with two supply stops at villages along the river. After that, we will be at sea.

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