Sanikiluaq 2012, in the community

We have come to Sanikiluaq for several reasons this year.  One of the reasons this year is to collect eiders from the nearby polynyas  for part of a study examining the health of eider ducks, but we have also come to work with the community.

One thing we did was to show the film that Joel has been working on with the community since 2006 that shows the eider ducks population that overwinters here, the relationship between the people here, the ducks, and other wildlife, and the work that Joel has been doing here (see www.peopleofafeather.com more the movie trailer and more information). The first showing of the film was on a weekday with about 100 students from both schools here in town. The second showing was on Saturday night after the community bingo and was well attended by the community.

The second part of the community collaboration is setting up a community based monitoring program tracking changes in salinity and the currents around the Belcher Islands.  Through Joel’s work over the last 10 years, concerns about how large amounts of freshwater released from dams in Quebec have been raised, and there are concerns about how the large amounts of freshwater being released into the area may be influencing the sea ice, and thus the biology of the Hudson Bay subpopulation of  eider ducks. We work with hunters using a salinity profiler that can be dropped off floe edges or down breathing holes in order to measure how much freshwater is sitting on top of the heavier salt water.

The last thing we have to do on our research checklist is retrieval and deployment of time lapse cameras set up to capture images of polynyas and ocean currents throughout the year. These cameras are set up on hill tops around the islands, and can be a bit of a challenge to work on when the winds pick up. You can see Mike here struggling to not get blown backwards as he makes his way to where the camera is mounted.

This camera is pointed out over the strait at the polynya you can see in the background beyond Mike, Joel and Johnny. These cameras and images help reserachers understand how polynyas change throughout the winter, and the currents changes throughout the seasons without actually having to be on the hillside all year.

 

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