Between 2013 and 2018, Arctic Tern I will be on expedition in the eastern Canadian Arctic contributing to the wider collaborative work toward a holistic assessment of the biodiversity in this important and changing part of the world. With Canada now occupying the Chair of the Arctic Council, we hope to make an important contribution to groups like Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) and others working to better understand this region and develop plans for its future.

The work of Arctic Tern I will contribute to constructive and collaborative solutions for Canada’s North. Whether it is science, education, or film-making, these projects will serve to support Inuit and other partners, and raise awareness and understanding.

2013-2018: Plankton to Polar Bears, Benthics to Bowheads

Ocean biodiversity is the foundation for the health – both ecological and human, and both traditional and modern – of the North. Understanding that biodiversity is fundamental to understanding the changing North.

Working with our Inuit, government, scientific, private-sector, and other partners we will deliver Arctic Tern I as a platform for science, film-making, education and community engagement on questions related to ocean biodiversity. We will build on and contribute to existing information, such as the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment and the Life Linked to Ice projects, and design each expedition with and for our research and other partners.

The objective is to use the uniquely nimble platform offered by Arctic Tern I to collect area-specific information at all trophic levels within the same time period, and thereby contribute to the ecosystem-wide assessment of a key indicator biodiversity. Each expedition will be driven by specific research objectives and, in addition, each voyage will systematically record, photograph, and geo-reference wildlife observations throughout.

Arctic Tern I is on a mission to assess and describe the biodiversity – plankton to polar bears, benthics to bowheads – of our northern ocean.

Summer 2013

In the summer of 2013, Arctic Tern will focus on the ocean waters near Pond Inlet – Milne Inlet, Eclipse Sound, and Lancaster Sound. These waters are known for the richness of their biodiversity, and they are critical for the local communities. This work will support the advancement of the Marine Protected Area in Lancaster Sound and will provide an ecological baseline in advance of proposed activities of the Baffinland Mary River mine.

Seabird colony census and banding at Bylot Island for the Canadian Wildlife Service and Environment Canada

Absence of population data for the seabird colonies of Bylot Island presents a problem for careful development in the area. Arctic Tern will assist with this need by undertaking photography of the cliff-based colonies. Standardized methodology and technologies will be employed to ensure the utility of the data. The resulting images will be delivered to the Canadian Wildlife Service for census analysis. In addition, trained and licensed technicians will be put ashore to scale the cliffs and place geolocator tags on a sample of the population.

Pelagic seabird observation for the Canadian Wildlife Service and Environment Canada

While at sea, the watch schedule for Arctic Tern will (as safety permits) include a dedicated bird observation crew post. Using the “Eastern Canada Seabirds at Sea (ECSAS) standardized protocol for pelagic seabird surveys from moving and stationary platforms” (Gjerdum et al, 2012) we will record observations of pelagic seabirds and report these back to our partners at the Canadian Wildlife Service and Environment Canada.

Orca (and other northern whale) observation and filming for Wild Canada, Department of Fisheries & Oceans and the University of Manitoba

There is anecdotal evidence that as summer sea ice retreats, pods of Orca are expanding their territories north. This movement, it is presumed, is putting new pressure on the preferred prey species – generally presumed to be marine mammals – and consequently has both ecological and social implications. These dynamics aren’t well understood and this predation hasn’t been captured on film. Working with our partners at Wild Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the University of Manitoba, Arctic Tern will operate as a mobile field station in pursuit of fresh science and exciting film of these impressive animals.

Students on Ice is an award-winning organization offering unique educational expeditions to the Antarctic and the Arctic. For 14 years, providing students, educators and scientists from around the world with inspiring educational opportunities, helping them foster a new understanding and respect for the planet.


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