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North Canada Coast—We fled to Canada to find Finley’s beluga* and stayed awhile.

We found our pod of belugas under Ice Hole B4. We were looking for one with a spot pattern in the shape of a flower—easier said than done, as there are a lot of belugas, they move around very quickly, and the markings we’re looking for don’t exactly leap out at you. It’s a bit like the quest for the red-tusked narwhal—it takes sharp eyes and a quick clicker-finger to catch the right one. Eventually, I latched on to him and, using the whistle, engaged in a duet. Considering his gift for song and, well, the fact that he’s a beluga, I can’t think of a better name for him than Raffi, after the kid’s folk singer whose hit  “Baby Beluga” was in very heavy rotation in our house when my son was a toddler.

Bay-bee be-loo-ga! Bay-bee be-loo-ga!

After bringing Raffi into the fold, Hayako and I continued to investigate the other ice holes. Looking at the Marine Encyclopedia the other day, I noted that a large number of the undiscovered species in the book were located in the Arctic, so I thought this would be a good time to get familiar with a region I don’t visit very often. We dive at sunset.

At Hole D1,2 we found our narwhals again, but the Greenland shark who usually harrasses us here was hanging back. Once we got north of the hole, he was up to his old tricks, charging us, running away and circling a few minutes before making another charge. There are more Greenlanders in the open range between holes along the northern border of the map, in C1, A1 and A2. Unlike the great whites, they’re solitary nomads. I guess I need to draw up another Know Thine Enemy for Greenland sharks.

Greenland sharks are solitary nomads

Topside at Hole D1,2 we find a suprise—sea otters diligently dining on their tummy-tables.

On the rim of Hole A1 we find  Atlantic spiny lumpsuckers, which I wasn’t able to find on one of my recent photo requests. Why anyone would want a photo of one of these things is beyond me—they look just like—well, look at them:

Atlantic spiny lumpsuckers

At Hole AB2 we found the legendary Ice Cupid—a kind of large sea angel, which loads an unsettling cut-scene where Jean-Eric tells me the Ice Cupid is a love charm and did I know that Oceana reallly looks up to me (wink-wink, nudge-nudge)? Uh, Jean-Eric—did YOU know that your granddaughter’s right there in the boat next to you and can hear every word you’re saying as you blatantly try to set us up? Maybe your imagination should get a room.

I had originally wanted to stay and do an around-the-clock survey of the life of the North Canada Coast, but we were out of film and hey—when was the last time I made any money? Before leaving we check out the topside around Hole CD3. The sky is clear, there are bearded seals lying around like drunks at the end of a party. The sun has disappeared behind the horizon, sending out a strange vertical ray that points like a beacon towards the darkening sky. I’ve heard of the green flash at sunset, but not this. I’d take a picture of it, but I haven’t any film left.

*By the way: Why do they call it “beluga” caviar, anyway? Belugas are mammals and don’t lay eggs. Caviar comes from sturgeon—and they look nothing like belugas. What’s up with that?

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