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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

North Knife: An Expedition to Hudson Bay

Published: August 11, 2012


By Mark Seth Lender


Mark Seth Lender in the field. (Photo: © Valerie Pettis)

LOE contributor Mark Seth Lender takes his recording gear and camera to Hudson Bay, Canada, just outside the Arctic Circle, to see polar bears, beluga whales, and Arctic foxes, oh my! Check out his blog.

This August, I have a-once-in-a-lifetime chance to take my sound gear and my cameras to Hudson Bay and head out, on foot, among polar bears at the mouth of the Seal River; don a drysuit and swim frigid water to find beluga whales; walk the tundra among caribou, nesting ptarmigan, Arctic foxes; search for wild wolves in the deep woods of North Knife Lake.

Perhaps the most important thing I will do in the Arctic will be the time I spend with Inuit hunters in and around the far north community of Arviat. The relationship between traditional hunters and their prey is as important a part of the picture as anything else. Inuit lived in harmony with nature for thousands of years, exterminating not a single thing. These are the people to whom the land belongs. They know it and the wildlife there better than anyone does or ever will. It is their perspective I want to reveal.

I will return with enough photography and sound to write, produce and record at least six radio segments for Living on Earth.

Why this fieldwork is different, and important
What I do is different from most wildlife programming. The camera is my notebook. Image is the raw material for what I do, not the end product. High-speed stills allow me to record what the human eye is too slow, and the video camera (contrary to what you might expect) too superficial to see. My true work is my writing, and my on air performance of that written work.
The expedition takes place August 2011 in the midst of that brief period above latitude 58 degrees when the tundra is in flower and open water is ice-free. It will be a chance to catch a glimpse of what the Arctic may look like all the time within another couple of decades, which almost automatically raises questions of what will and will not be able to survive. There is a real question of whether the remaining Inuit can survive the coming change.

(Editor’s note: The in-country portion of Mark’s trip is being funded by Churchill Wild , an ecotour company of Hudson Bay. The balance of the funds was raised through individual contributions.)

Back to North Knife: An Expedition to Hudson Bay with Mark Seth Lender


 

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