10/25/2012 2:19:42 AM

Communicating from the Tundra

Hello from the tundra!

This is my first time participating as a panelist on Tundra Connections, and I have to say my experience so far has been nothing short of amazing. Coming from conducting my first field season carrying out research on the polar bears of the Southern Hudson Bay subpopulation last month, it's great to be among the bears again and take the time to watch the bears relax in their natural habitat. 

This was the first morning we awoke to frost covering the willow trees, and the corners of some of the freshwater ponds are starting to show hints of freezing with small layers of ice forming. Today was also the first day this week that we had a strong north wind bring some snow to the tundra! It hasn't settled on the ground yet, and we're still a long ways away from the bay starting to freeze, but these signs are encouraging that winter is on its way. 

The bears seemed to appreciate the cold, blustery weather, as all the bears we saw today were very active rather than hunkering down and riding out the windstorm. One subadult male was especially curious about our buggy, and spent a good chunk of time interacting with our panel crew outside of Tundra Buggy One. He then spent the better part of the afternoon trying to interact with a young subadult female who was hanging around the same area, but she was having none of it and kept her distance! He seemed a bit bummed but eventually settled down for a long tundra nap. 

Our first video conference of the day was with a second grade class from Bozeman, Montana. We had a lot of fun chatting with these students, and they had some really great questions for the panel. We gave the class an overview of some of the animal and plant residents of the Arctic, and ended with a conversation about how they could contribute towards polar bear conservation as 7 and 8 year olds in Montana. My favourite part of this experience has got to be the ability to inspire kids to keep learning and to do their part in polar bear conservation, as well as increasing their awareness of the effects of climate change on northern ecosystems.  

Our second conference of the day was our first public webcast of the season, when we went live with over 200 classrooms across the world discussing ecosystems, food chains, northern culture, and climate change. It was a bit daunting to know we were interacting with so many students from so many different places, but it was also a real privilege to share our passion and be welcomed into so many classrooms. We can't wait to do it again tomorrow!  

As we started to settle down for the evening, we noticed that the subadult female from this morning has decided to take up residence beside the Lodge for the night. We think she likes to use the lodge as a safe haven from pesky males. She's got ears that stick out a bit more than usual and quite the inquisitive personality so it's great to have her around. 

Signing off for today! Goodnight!

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