News from the University of Alberta that the Boreal Institute for Northern Studies will either be closed or dramatically scaled down has shocked most everyone with an interest in the Canadian North. And for this there is good reason. ... There is much to condemn the decision, even if the provincial government of Alberta is largely to blame for the financial nightmares that forced the university's administrators to take such drastic action. The Boreal is among the last and most important northern studies centres of its kind in Canada. ... Canadians should not be fooled into believing that this is simply an Alberta issue somehow connected to the collapse of oil prices and the impoverishment of the government. The problem is really a national one that has its roots in the country's long-standing inability to take the bull by the horns and do something about our inherent northerness. Back in the Laurier years, for example, it was left for the most part to outsiders like Vilhjalmur Stefansson and Roald Amundsen to remind us of what we had in the North and what was potentially at stake. Occasionally, our government listened, but mostly it vacillated, as it did when the activities of the arctic whalers got out of hand and negatively affected the Inuit societies and the whale populations at the turn of the century. ... Canadian polar research never seemed to fully recover from the so-called glory years of the Stefansson era, as the decline of the Canadian Wildlife Service, the Arctic Biological Station and the various polar research institutes attest. ... Canadians get all fired up when the United States or anyone else intrudes on our northern territory, ostensibly because they believe that the North is the key to our national identity - .... Yet when the opportunity arises to really do something about it, to protect the North from foreign intrusion, to preserve the environment from industrial development, to exploit its resources responsibly, to better understand the North and the people who inhabit it, the enthusiasm wanes. ... With the decline of the Boreal, Canada moves one step farther away from being able to shape the course of developments in the North in a way that is most beneficial and in tune with the aspirations of the nation. [As a point of comparison, Australia's commitment to antarctic research is compared to Canada's commitment to arctic research].
On 18 August 1988 we found four narwhals and two dead belugas stranded on a low beach at Creswell Bay, Somerset Island. All of the narwhals and two of the belugas had been attacked and partially eaten by polar bears. At Cunningham Inlet, where belugas concentrate in large numbers, we have noted ten strandings over the period 1980-88, without bear predation on these occasions. One bear, hunting from an ice floe in deep water at Cunningham Inlet, killed two sub-adult belugas in July 1985. Belugas seem to exhibit curiosity towards swimming polar bears that might serve to drive bears out of the area and reduce the risk of predation. The potential large summer food resource for bears represented by odontocete whales in the High Arctic Archipelago seems to be underutilized. The timing and location of beluga concentrations are known and dates of probable strandings are somewhat predictable, which might allow us to assess the extent of bear predation on whales in the future.
Serious problems were encountered with bears during construction of the 1274-km-long trans-Alaska oil pipeline between Prudhoe Bay and Valdez. This multi-billion dollar project traversed both black bear (Ursus americanus Pallas) and grizzly bear (U. arctos L.) habitat throughout its entire length. Plans for dealing with anticipated problems with bears were often inadequate. Most (71%) problems occurred north of the Yukon River in a previously roadless wilderness where inadequate refuse disposal and widespread animal feeding created dangerous situations. Of the 192 officially reported bear problems associated with the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS)(1971-79), about 65% involved the presence of bears in camps or dumps, 13% the feeding of bears on garbage or handouts, 10% property damage or economic loss, 7% bears under and in buildings, and only 5% charges by bears. Remarkably, no bear-related injuries were reported, suggesting that bears became accustomed to people and did not regard them as a threat. Following construction of the TAPS there have been proposals for pipelines to transport natural gas from Prudhoe Bay to southern and Pacific-rim markets. Based on past experience, some animal control measures were developed during the planning phase for the authorized gas pipeline route in Alaska. Fences installed around 100-person "survey" camps were found to be effective in deterring bears in two traditionally troublesome areas.
Zooarchaeological implications for prehistoric distributions of seabirds along the Norwegian coast
Arctic, v. 43, no. 2, June 1990, p. 110-114, ill., maps
ASTIS record 29949
Investigation of the temporal and spatial distributions of zooarchaeological material can aid in understanding of the palaeoecology of nonhuman and human species. Northern gannets (Sula bassanas) and northern fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) were first documented to breed in Norway during the present century. Skeletal remains of gannets and fulmars uncovered at Norwegian archaeological sites have been dated from approximately 7000 to 800 B.P. and from about 30,000 to 400 B.P. respectively. The modal occurrence of gannets occurred in Norwegian waters earlier than did most fulmars. Recovered fulmar bones greatly outnumber those of gannets, a pattern consistent with relative abundances in Norwegian waters today, but one that might also reflect differential accessibility and/or prey preferences of previous coastal inhabitants. Proportionally more of the fulmar material was uncovered at proportionally more sites in North Norway, findings consistent with current species distributions and with speculation of similar oceanographic conditions in previous millenia.
The population of thick-billed murres (Uria lomvia) in the Thule District, North Greenland, was surveyed in 1987. Counts from photos indicated a total of 285,000 murres present at the five colonies in the area, corresponding to about 214,000 breeding pairs. Counts of large murre colonies are likely to underestimate numbers, and the true population size probably falls in the range of 210,000-250,000 pairs. The need for future monitoring is stressed in light of the threat to murre populations posed by human activities such as hunting, petroleum development, and commercial fisheries. Other seabird species recorded during the survey, including the Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica) and the Razorbill (Alca torda), are briefly referred to.
The history of the first missionary efforts among the Gwich'in Athapaskans (Loucheux) living in northeastern Alaska, the northern Yukon Territory, and the northwestern part of the Northwest Territories is vividly portrayed through the correspondence and journals left by the Anglicans James Hunter, William West Kirkby, and Robert McDonald and by their Roman Catholic rivals, the Oblate priests Henri Grollier and Jean Seguin. On several occasions during the early 1860s, the Anglicans and the Oblates found themselves traveling together and competing one on one for the conversion of the Gwich'in. This resulted in some highly charged and dramatic confrontations. Although the Anglicans and Oblates have since reconciled many of their differences, their early competition produced tremendous confusion and turmoil among the Gwich'in, and it effectively foreshadowed other interdenominational conflicts that continue in the present day.
Spring sightings of narwhal and beluga calves in Lancaster Sound, N.W.T.
Canada. Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans
Arctic, v. 43, no. 2, June 1990, p. 127-128, 1 map
NOGAP project no. B.01 : Effects of vessel noise and traffic on arctic marine mammals
ASTIS record 29952
During aerial surveys in 1986 of whales migrating in Lancaster Sound, we observed newborn narwhals as early as 27 May and regularly thereafter. Beluga calves were first seen on 31 May and were seen sporadically throughout the study period. These observations represent the earliest reported sightings to date of newborn narwhals.
The underwater light field in a small arctic lake on Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, was examined. Downward radiance was found to be bimodal, with transmission peaks at 480 and 640 nanometres (nm, or .000000001 m). Upward radiance was similar near the surface, with peaks at 480 and 620 nm, but became unimodal with depth and shifted to 580 nm near the bottom. Diurnal variation in the underwater downward and upward irradiance of PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) was approximately two orders of magnitude. The spectral quality of light transmission also changed over this 24 hour period. Unimodal transmission of red light occurred in the early morning (1:00 and 5:00) and late evening (22:00), while bimodal transmission of blue-green and red light was observed during the day (9:00-17:30). Kd(Zm), the vertical attenuation coefficient for downward irradiance at the midpoint of the euphotic zone, was relatively insensitive to changes in solar elevation. Diurnal variation in the reflectance of PAR differed from the predicted by previous simulation models, while the inverse relationship between reflectance and the absorption coefficient was in agreement with these same models. Gilvin, humic material-dissolved iron complexes, algal fucoxanthin, chlorophyll a and tripton all contribute to the attenuation of light and are responsible for the unique underwater spectral transmission in Keyhole Lake.
Isabella Bay, Baffin Island : An important historical and present-day concentration area for the endangered bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) of the eastern Canadian Arctic
Arctic, v. 43, no. 2, June 1990, p. 137-152, ill., maps
ASTIS record 29954
A late summer concentration of bowheads (Balaena mysticetus) at Isabella Bay, Baffin Island, was studied during 1983-88. The general results of the field study are presented and integrated with historical research and artifactual evidence of British whaling. Bowheads were observed from shore on virtually every day of adequate visibility in late summer, early fall of 1984-88, but in 1983 only two whales appeared. Peak numbers occurred in September, when as many as 68 whales were counted on one day. The whales congregated in specific areas corresponding to significant underwater topographic features. Most feeding took place in one of two deep (>200 m) troughs and most social activity occurred on a shallow bank (<30 m). Earliest arrivals were large subadults that engaged in social-sexual activities on the bank; adults arrived later and fed in deep troughs. Migrants from the north arrived in October. The mean length of 83 whales, measured photogrammetrically, was 14.4 m; 89% were >13 m long, which is about the minimum size of sexual maturity. ... Interactions of killer whales with bowheads were observed twice. About one-third of the bowheads bear killer whale scars. Whaling literature indicates that bowheads on the east coast of Baffin Island, called rocknosers, were segregated in late summer from those in the High Arctic archipelago. This population was exploited mostly after 1859 with the advent of steam power, in an operation called rocknosing. Isabella Bay was a significant port of operation during this last phase of the industry; the whalers were strategically positioned to hunt large whales in offshore troughs late in the season. Other locations with similar characteristics on the east coast of Baffin are identified from Inuit lore and historical literature.
Historical data sources on the bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) provide the means to statistically examine the relationships of body and baleen size and oil yield. These data demonstrate a linear relationship between length of the whale and baleen length, with no apparent differences between males and females. Since baleen length was a standard measure of size, it is possible to compare sizes of whales taken on different whaling grounds with the sizes of living whales today. A quadratic regression provides the best fit for baleen length versus oil yield, but a linear regression is best for baleen weight versus oil yield. Commercial oil returns may be useful in examining the evolution of the whaling industry and aspects of population segregation of the bowhead.
Does the clam Mya truncata regenerate its siphon after predation by walrus? An experimental approach
Arctic, v. 43, no. 2, June 1990, p. 157-158, ill.
ASTIS record 29956
Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) prey extensively on the bivalve Mya truncata, removing the siphons. We performed a simple experiment whereby the siphons from 27 M. truncata were removed, 33 controls were left intact, and the clams left on the sea bottom for a year. All the damaged Mya died; all but 2 controls lived. We conclude that M. truncata whose siphons have been grazed by walrus die, leaving over half the clam to predators or scavengers.
The saline soils of the Slims River Delta have developed on land formed in the last 100 years in an area of otherwise continuous permafrost. Deep seasonal frost on the delta prevents downward leaching of salts when the snow melts. Instead the salts accumulate at the surface as the ground dries, while additional salts are added from springs at the base of the surrounding mountains. Late summer rains can leach the soils if they are sufficiently heavy, producing a three- to fourfold variation in salinity from year to year. The efflorescences are dominated by the hexahydrate of magnesium sulfate, and the high sulfate content is probably the reason that soils in depressions with the morphology of solonetzic soils remain reasonably friable. The distribution of the characteristic halophytic plant associations found on these soils appears to be controlled more by soil moisture content than by the actual salinity level.
Movement of crude oil in an experimental spill on the SEEDS simulated pipeline right-of-way, Fort Norman, N.W.T.
Arctic, v. 43, no. 2, June 1990, p. 176-183, ill., maps
ASTIS record 29958
The Studies of the Environmental Effects of Disturbances in the Subarctic (SEEDS) experimental spill was conducted on a simulated pipeline right-of-way and trench. A total of 3273 L of Norman Wells crude oil was released over a 24 h period at a depth of 100 cm in a simulation of a rupture from a subsurface pipeline. Absorptive qualities of the surface vegetation and organic soil layers in an undisturbed forest produce rates of flow and area of contamination values much lower than the SEEDS experiment. Furthermore, the area of contamination (672.75 sq m) was greater than experiments in which the amount of oil and rates of pumping were larger. This resulted from the presence of surface water, a depressed mineral soil-dominated simulated pipeline trench, a cleared right-of-way and slow pumping rates. The SEEDS experiment was a more valid analogue of crude-oil spills associated with a buried pipeline in a subarctic environment.
... In addition to his contributions in charting the Northwest, Pond compiled vast amounts of data on the geography of the Great Lakes area through his travels in the Upper Mississippi and Detroit areas. He was responsible for providing information on the geography of the Great Lakes area to Benjamin Franklin that dictated the character of the Canadian-American boundary negotiations in 1782-83. Pond's character has been described as volatile, occasionally explosive, morose, suspicious, unsociable, proud, sensitive, sometimes impetuous, and intractable. Others have described him as a true adventurer, of sterling character, courageous, industrious, aggressive, and extremely competent. Although his memoirs suggest that he was largely unschooled, he apparently received a good "common education" and was literate in both English and French. His wit and good humour and his artistic sense show through in his writings. His own writings and detailed cartographic notations indicate a man with a high regard for knowledge, a keen sense of observation, and a desire to preserve information. Whatever may be said of his character and literacy abilities, there is no doubt that here was a man extremely capable of assembling, integrating, and interpreting vast amounts of verbal and visual geographical data and presenting them in amazingly accurate depictions of geography for which there was no precedent. As a result of his travels in the Athabasca area and contact with the resident Indians, Peter Pond compiled information on the geography of the region and prepared the first map of the north-central parts of Canada. Pond's cartographic assembly was aimed at the discovery of a route to the western sea. His knowledge of the Northwest, his vision of a passage to the Pacific Ocean, and his own desire to reach that ocean served as an inspiration for the epochal voyages of Alexander Mackenzie. Despite his unequivocal importance as a historical figure, Peter Pond has not been recognized for his accomplishments.
This profile discusses the various designs of the East Canadian Arctic kayak. Several main regional styles are distinguished as North Baffin, northwest Greenland (c. 1860-1930), East and South Baffin and north Labrador, Atlantic Labrador, and West Labrador; finer distinctions are also possible. Although they vary considerably in size and shape, these kayaks share a recognizable basic pattern, with a long, rising bow, low stern, wide, flat deck and narrower bottom, usually but not always flat. Load capacity varied but was comparatively great given the ample hull volume, with displacement increasing quickly from the flared sides as the waterline rose. Various uses and hunting methods and utensils are also described. However the origins of the early kayaks arose, the East Arctic kayak was well suited to its use and provided the Inuit a vital edge in their hunting pursuits.
Brian Sagar, African and arctic traveller, died of cancer on 12 January 1990. A member of the Arctic Institute of North America, he ended his life a world away from the town of Colne in Lancashire, England, where he was born in 1927. At the time of his death Brian was Associate Professor of Geography at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. ... A quiet, meticulous man, Brian Sagar was a boon companion in the tent and on the trail, never short of ideas, perceptive observations and anecdotes. ... Brian never made any spectacular scientific discoveries or published the ultimate paper in his chosen field. He simply did his job and his duty to others, enriching the lives of all those he met with his words and his compassion. His sometimes sardonic sense of humour and broad grin masked a man of deep thought, who never took himself seriously, but who cared passionately for others and for the earth. ... he has left in the hearts and minds of all who knew him an undying memory of a decent, honest man who lived his life to the fullest.