There's an App for That

Written by Steve Earsom
Sunday, June 15, 2014

Photo of Stephen D. Earsom."And if we're landing at Kangirsuk, you'll want to watch out for caribou on the runway." So said my experienced observer, Jean Rodrique, rather matter-of-factly. Who was I to doubt him?

Jean works for the Canadian Wildlife Service, and has been conducting the Ungava survey for a long time. In fact, I'm the fourth FWS biologist-pilot he's flown with on this survey, dating back well over a decade. He knows every village on the peninsula, has every imaginable phone number at hand, and is a tremendous asset for logistical planning and support. He even showed me an app that allows me to place and receive free phone calls over the internet. That's a pretty valuable tool for these geographic regions where our cell phone don't work, and our satellite phones require a bit of imagination to fill in every other word of a conversation...but where a wifi hotspot can be found around almost every corner.

So far, the weather here has been as advertised: sun and wind, followed by rain and wind, followed by rain and fog. Repeat. It's an austere environment here north of treeline, so I suppose we need to be understanding if animals that look a lot like reindeer decide to use a runway on occasion. It may be Rudolph looking for a hotspot.

Fog and wind.

Fog and wind. Photo by Steve Earsom, USFWS

Payne Bay.

Payne Bay. Photo by Steve Earsom, USFWS

Unnamed tributary.

Unnamed tributary. Photo by Steve Earsom, USFWS

Hikers on the right give some sense of the size of the sea ice blocks still in Payne Bay.

Hikers on the right give some sense of the size of the sea ice blocks still in Payne Bay. Photo by Steve Earsom, USFWS