Just as our museum botanists are about to fly to Baffin Island in the Arctic, two other museum researchers, Claude Renaud and Noel Alfonso, are starting a journey in the Northwest Territories to collect and study lampreys. A Russian colleague, Alexander Naseka is accompanying them.

View of Yellowknife from a hotel.
Yellowknife as seen from the hotel. Photo : Claude Renaud © Canadian Museum of Nature

We left Ottawa on June 20, at 7:00 AM. We made stopovers in Toronto and Edmonton and arrived on time in Yellowknife at 1:00 PM. local time (3:00 PM Ottawa time). Flying over Great Slave Lake we saw small patches of ice on the lake, especially near the shoreline.

After retrieving our luggage, the guy from the car rental agency picked us up but we soon realized that the vehicle would be much too small for our purposes.

After some discussions, we decided on a large van and took the extra insurance for tires and windshield, especially after our inspection revealed that the four tires were of three different makes and the windshield already had two chips and a crack in it, likely caused by flying gravel.

Image of a small vehicle and a larger van.
The small vehicle that we were first given…and the van that we finally chose to take us on our journey.
Photo : Alexander Naseka © Canadian Museum of Nature

The rental person assured us that the tires were all the same size, so having different makes wasn’t a problem! When we told her about our itinerary, her jaw dropped. We are guessing that people don’t usually cover this kind of distance in three weeks.

We then headed downtown to the offices of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans where we met Senior Habitat Biologist Bruce Hanna and retrieved our fieldgear. There were two packages: one was a container weighing about 40 kg and the other was an unwieldy bubble-wrapped package containing two dipnet handles and the long electrode for our electrofishing apparatus (more on this in a future blog).

Researchers moving boxes of supplies.
Collecting the supplies, at least the material that arrived, at the offices of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Yellowknife. (From left to right: Claude Renaud, Bruce Hanna of Fisheries and Oceans, and Noel Alfonso. Photo : Alexander Naseka © Canadian Museum of Nature

However, the package containing the ever-important chemicals for euthanizing and preserving our fishes still had not arrived. Despite many calls to the courier and the use of their tracking number, the whereabouts of the package remains unknown. It turns out that today, June 21, is National Aboriginal Day, a territorial-wide celebration. This means that many of the stores and offices are closed, including the courier offices! We are therefore compelled to stay another day in Yellowknife and wait for our shipment of chemicals to arrive.

Yesterday afternoon, we stopped at a sports store to purchase two types of bear repellent: bear spray and bear bangers.

Two salespeople and two clients discuss merchandise in a sports equipment store.
Noel Alfonso, centre, and Claude Renaud, on the right, take advantage of their time in Yellowknife to buy bear repellent. Photo : Alexander Naseka © Canadian Museum of Nature

Later that same afternoon, the CBC radio morning host in Yellowknife, Joslyn Oosenbrug, recorded an interview with me about our fieldtrip in the parking lot of the Explorer Hotel.

Don’t know when it will air but she is interested in doing a follow-up interview when we get back to Yellowknife from our wide-ranging fieldtrip. Sure hope we can get our chemicals tomorrow and be on our way!