There and Back Again

Kevin Montenegro Student Posts 2 Comments

Long has it been a childhood dream of mine to explore and study the Arctic Ocean. Coming home from weary days of university to watch Arctic documentaries; reading and being inspired by stories of Arctic exploration in my adolescence. Falling asleep as a child to the sight of 19th century tall ship models that stood atop my bedroom cabinet and the seabirds painted on my bedroom walls. When the NPP expedition in 2018, we unfortunately ran aground on an uncharted shoal, and it became a fear in my mind that I may never again receive the chance to conduct marine research in the Arctic. Upon being rescued by a nearby ship, I refused to stay inside the new vessel on its melancholy return to dock. I gathered all the sights I could of the beautiful seaside cliffs that flanked our route. I found solace there and I made a vow to myself that if there were any way to return to the Northwest Passage again, there would be no other choice but to take it.
Time has passed since that 2018 expedition ended but I somehow have returned to the project for another year. It seems that many of the returning members share optimism for the NWP 2019 expedition and we have plenty of positive energy moving forward. We have a lot of new members to our team this year and we all seem to be getting along. It was incredibly refreshing to begin our research this year. Just like last year, I’m one of the students focusing on marine mammal and bird distribution surveys. Although I’m really interested in participating in the other research studies, I’ve been focusing on wildlife biology the past few years.
Meeting Rick Ludkin, our project’s seabird observer from Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS), has been a great experience. He’s given me and the other students a lot of insight on this field of work. He’s a great teacher and is always waiting on the bridge to teach us to how to perform the protocol the CWS uses. As a current research intern at U.S. National Parks South Florida and Caribbean Network, its interesting discovering the different ways to study wildlife distribution the two national services use. Holly Morin is the marine mammal expert on the Birds and Marine Mammals Team (BaMM as we like to call it) and she has a wealth of knowledge on marine mammals and science communication/education that not only is incredibly useful for this project but I definitely see value to take from. Although Holly is not as present to teach us as Rick is, she is carrying out important communication efforts that are a fundamental cornerstone to this project: live broadcasts. I have always felt that science communication is crucial for bringing awareness to important issues but it has always been (admittingly) difficult for me to do so I’m hoping to get better at it.
Life on the Swedish icebreaker Oden has been chaotic the first few days but I think everyone is still trying to set up their equipment and accommodate themselves to life at sea (which has been made easier thanks to the incredible crew fitted on Oden). As we further west on our way to Pond Inlet, I can’t wait to spot more wildlife that I’ve never seen before, like puffins and bowhead whales.

Comments 2

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    Sounds like your dreams for this trip are unfolding and coming true! How wonderful and what a tremendous opportunity!

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