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Periwinkles on a basaltic boulder Those of us who study the ecology of long-extinct marine creatures have to work from clues: the morphologies of the fossilized organisms, the character of the enclosing sediment, and the preserved spatial relationships between fossils in bedrock. It is always pleasing to see modern examples that support our interpretations of ancient life. These photos from the shore of Passamaquoddy Bay show some very nice examples of the way in which many…

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An Embarrassment of Riches

World Water Day, 2016 From a helicopter, the tundra ponds in Manitoba’s Hudson Bay Lowlands are countless. As World Water Day draws to  a close, here are a few images illustrating a fraction of Canada’s immense store of fresh water. World Water Day brings to the fore humanity’s concerns about fresh water, health, and environment. Canadians need to be far more aware that Canada holds about 20% of the planet’s freshwater resources; this water is critical not only…

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I haven’t been around here much lately because . . .

. . .  we have been very busy at the Museum for the past few months, and much of this busy-ness has been associated with preparing exhibits about a spectacular Cretaceous pliosaur (plesiosaur) skull that we acquired a couple of years ago. Much of my own work on the project has been more on the “paper” side of things (researching and writing the exhibit panels, working on grant proposals and budgets), but other staff at the…

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Up a Hazy River

Fieldwork in the Hudson Bay Lowlands, August 15, 2015 A grey, chilly morning at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre had us considering the weather. This was to be the last of our three “helicopter days” for 2015, so we really wanted to be out there over the horizon. But the weather forecast was not particularly promising (or rather it promised things that we’d rather it didn’t), and  mist, wind, and damp were certainly evident. Still,…

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Down the Road

Churchill, Manitoba: August 25th, 2015 A cobble hanging from a tripod forms a humorous ad hoc “wind gauge” near the Churchill Northern Studies Centre. Down the road there is always something new to see. Even on a road you have travelled before, there will be unseen treasures, just waiting by the roadside to be discovered. At the Churchill Northern Studies Centre (CNSC), our 2015 field season was complete. It had been a fantastic two weeks, possibly…

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White Cross Breakdown

Grand Manan Island: July, 2015 A living Staurophora mertensii over gravel in shallow water: the “white cross” represents canals and gonads. Jellyfish are known for being short-lived. Not far from a jelly bloom where uncountable medusae swim and pulse, you might expect to find numbers of dead and dying jellyfish. In the case of the jelly bloom in North Head harbour this past summer, weakened and dying jellies were washing up nearby along the shore of…

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Number 82

Number 82 and the 1976 Custom Deluxe, visiting a quarry in the Churchill quartzite. Sometimes Good Things Come Back A few weeks ago we arrived in Churchill to carry out a field project, staying at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre as we always do. We were a big group of scientists for the first week, and CNSC assigned us two Suburbans from their fleet. The older was a rather beaten 1976 version, tarnished and burnished by decades of wind-driven salt…

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Jelly Bloom at North Head

Grand Manan Island: July 12, 2015 Mid-July, and there were a tremendous localized bloom of jellies in the harbour at North Head.  It didn’t seem to extend very far outside the harbour at that time (it was mostly just dead jellies nearby in Flagg’s Cove), but at North Head the numbers were truly stunning. A few days earlier we had seen some moon jellies (Aurelia sp.), but most of this bloom was the white cross jelly…

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Seal Cove Beach

Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick: July, 2015 Walking on the seashore, I am often struck by the diversity that can exist in a very small area. Certainly you can observe a range of features and life forms if you walk in a forest or across a grassland, but on the shore the diversity effects are magnified and multiplied by the juxtaposition of land, air and sea. Physical forces above and below tide line act upon the water,…

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The Anthropocene Unconformity

Coal Harbour, Vancouver It has been suggested that our current time interval is different from all the times that preceded it, that human activities are dramatically affecting the  Earth’s environment, atmosphere, and oceans. Geologists have long known the time since the end of the last ice age, about 12,000 years ago, as the Holocene Epoch, but about fifteen years ago it was proposed that we have passed from the Holocene into a new interval, the…

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