An eight-member Arctic expedition led by the Pew Environment Group's Oceans North Canada campaign left Ilulissat, Greenland on June 7th to study one of the greatest whale migrations in the world. During their monthlong voyage on the 45-foot Arctic Endeavor, expedition members will collect scientific data on narwhal, beluga and bowhead whales in the North Water Polynya and Lancaster Sound.
"We are thrilled at the opportunity to learn more about these marine mammals," said Chris Debicki, expedition leader and Nunavut projects director for Oceans North Canada. "Difficult ice conditions have until now prevented anyone from using a boat this size to follow the spring migration, so there are huge gaps in what we know about the whales' journey through the Arctic."
The Lancaster 2011: Arctic Whale Survey team includes two marine biologists and an Inuit hunter from the Baffin Island community of Pond Inlet who will gather data about whales and seabirds in the eastern Arctic. They will survey marine mammal populations, monitor whale acoustics, count seabird populations and take plankton samples for a study of polar bear diets. Studies were designed in collaboration with other researchers, including one of Canada's foremost narwhal experts.Read dispatches from the ship