Mallory Lab - Acadia University
Nasaruvaalik Island Field Station ...
Nasaruvaalik (Tern) Island
Nasaruvaalik Island (75.8 N, 96.3 W) is actually an unnamed (as near as we can tell), 3 x 1
km alluvial island in Queen's Channel, Nunavut. The research station at Nasaruvaalik Island
was set up in 2007, after Grant Gilchrist and I discovered a small, recurrent colony of
Ross's Gulls (Rhodostethia rosea) breeding there amongst the Arctic Terns (Sterna
paradisaea), Sabine's Gulls (Xema sabini), Common Eiders (Somateria mollissima
borealis) and Long-tailed Ducks (Clangula hyemalis). "Nasaruvaalik" is Inuktitut for "thing
that wears a scarf", describing the appearance of the rare Ross's Gull. However, the most
common bird on the island is the Arctic Tern (maybe up to 1000 pairs), and Polar
Continental Shelf Program, our logistics supplier, gave that moniker for the site.
The station is situated beside small, recurrent polynyas which support non-migratory,
overwintering Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus), as well as Bearded (Erignathus barbatus) and
Ringed Seals (Pusa hispida). These sites are also critical marine habitats for migratory
The field station has 3 cabins (as of 2011), one for sleeping up to 8 people, one for storage
(including a propane freezer), and a small kitchen cabin. There are generally weekly visits
by Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus), meaning that all people working at the site are required
to carry and know how to operate shotguns, as well as having Standard First Aid
certification. There is no running water; in fact our water supply is from snow that we melt
and store in blue barrels, so we have to be careful through the season. Hence, an
occasional brief shower by solar-heated water bag, or the odd spongebath is about all we
have supplies for ... we get used to interesting aromas. Access to the station if by Twin
Otter or helicopter. We use a small ATV and a small zodiac to work on or around the island.
A full field season runs from early June to early September.
Copyright 2011 Mark Mallory
33 Westwood Ave, Acadia University
Wolfville, NS B4P 2R6