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Nasaruvaalik (Tern) Island, NU

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 birds. 

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.

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