5/27/2014 4:29:42 PM

Cabin Life

Agreeable weather is essential to the success of any polar bear tagging fieldwork program—both for the flying and the tracking. However, the weather gods are not always with us. Being weathered-in while in the Arctic is common- sometimes for a single day, sometimes for a handful in a row. During these weather days, we all stay in the cabin waiting out the wind, snow, and whiteouts—living the cabin life.

Polar Bear Cabin, our home away from home while studying polar bears in Viscount Melville Sound, is only about 28 square meters altogether, including the bunk bed sleeping quarters with storage shelves, the kitchen with oil stove, and the toilet (which really consists only of a bucket with a plastic bag in it; a so-called "honey-bucket", nothing fancier than that).

Despite the cabin's small size there are many household chores to do: maintaining the generator, getting snow for water, making dinner, filling oil on the stove, emptying the honey bucket/trash/water bucket, and doing dishes. In addition, there are the fieldwork-related tasks of cleaning weapons, preparing darting equipment, sorting out polar bear tissue samples, digging out fuel drums, and looking after the helicopter.

And should we run out of more practical tasks, there are always popular and scientific articles waiting to be written and new research projects and funding proposals to be thought out. Plus, of course, there are naps to take, books to read, and stories to swap. Last, but not least, we constantly look out the window, checking the weather to see if/when we can finally go out again with the helicopter to find some more polar bears and do the job we actually came here to do!

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