Opportunities to live and work in Churchill for the science and nature minded are available right now at the Churchill Northern Studies Center! Short term volunteer positions are available for northern lights season during January and February. If you are interested contact them here: email@example.com
The CSNC is at the far reaches of the road heading out through the Churchill Wildlife Management Area and out to the old Churchill rocket range. What a place to spend a couple of months this winter or possibly a longer stint as Assistant Director!
Natural Habitat Adventures guide Drew Hamilton reports that northern lights season in Churchill got off to a roaring start this week! Awesome aurora borealis and fine first looks from Natural Habitat’s Aurora pod and the Aurora Domes warmed the hearts and hands of his group of hearty travelers. The season started with -40 degree temps though the groups spirits were sky high as one could imagine. The trip is superbly outfitted with high – tech gear to keep all travelers warm while they patiently and excitedly wait for lights in the northern sky. The advantage to the colder Arctic air is it usually ensures crystal clear skies for exceptional visibility. A spectacular moon and stellar sun dogs each day added “icing” on this past week’s phenomenal start to the season.
Northern lights over Churchill. drew Hamilton photo.
Natural Habitat guide Drew Hamilton with an icy beard. Drew Hamilton photo.
Days were filled with incredible cultural presentations on the history and ecology of Churchill from local native elders Caroline Bjorklund and Myrtle de Meulles as well as Parcs Canada interpreter Duane. Snow sampling out at the Churchill Northern Studies Center with Matt and Igloo building with Harry Tootoo supplemented th esub – Arctic experience quite well. A supreme highlight of the trip was dog sledding with Dave Daly at Wapusk Adventures. The Ididamile is still going strong! What a start to the new season!
Doing the Ididamile with Wapusk Adventures. Drew Hamilton photo.
The dogyard at Wapusk Adventures. Drew Hamilton photo.
A swirl of aurora borealis over Churchill’s boreal forest. Drew Hamilton photo.
Ever wonder what the perfect conditions are for seeing the magnificent northern lights ? When and where are the best places to see them? Why are various northern lights different colors? Well, you can get all the answers from an expert today right here! Click this Explore.org webcam link to ask “Starman” a question!
Get all your burning northern lights questions answered today live at 5pm eastern time on Explore.org Northern Lights Cam. Canadian aurora borealis lecturer Roger “Starman” Woloshyn will be answering comment questions live on air today through the webcam portal. Just click on the webcam link and submit a question in the comment section and Roger will answer them as they come in.
Roger is an active lecturer at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre in Churchill, Manitoba. The center, founded in 1976, is a non-profit education and research facility 15 miles east of town at the site of the dormant Churchill Rocket Range. Researchers and educators utilize the facility to explore a diverse range of issues on northern science. Woloshyn also produces and writes presentations for the Manitoba Planetarium in Winnipeg, a position he has held for the past 20 years.
So, get your questions ready and come chat with “Starman” today at Explore.org!
The first grizzly bear possibly ever seen in Churchill was spotted just outside the Churchill Northern Studies Center last Thursday in the late evening. A group of residents entered the center and alerted the staff that they just saw a grizzly bear outside. A group of high school students staying at the center from Sisler High in Winnipeg and some staff rushed out to a second floor observation deck and shot this video. Assistant director of the center Heidi den Haan snapped a few photos of the bear before he wandered off.
“There’s very, very few sightings in the park. But to actually have one here? And to have everybody see it? That’s very, very rare for sure,” den Haan said. “We have polar bears coming around the centre all the time. We’re right on Hudson Bay. But grizzlies? There’s just this one. Oh yeah, this is definitely singular. The kids are extremely lucky to have witnessed it,” den Haan said.
Barren ground grizzly spotted near the Churchill Northern Studies Center. Heidi den Haan / CSNC photo.
The sighting comes just weeks after researchers in Wapusk National Park, known for its polar bear denning area, circulated photographs of grizzly and black bears roaming the tundra. The park is 100 kilometers southeast of Churchill. The researchers believe the bear spotted in Churchill and brown bears out in the park are barren ground grizzlies. These grizzly bears are a little smaller then Rocky Mountain grizzlies. They are also considered more aggressive. Omnivorous in their feeding habits these bears hunt caribou, ground squirrels, eat berries and scavenge carrion.
Grizzly bear outside the Churchill Northern Studies Center. Heidi den Haan/ CSNC photo.
There have been reports of barren ground grizzlies mating with polar bears. Offspring from this hybrid match are called grolar or pizzly bears and sightings are extremely rare with the only reported sightings coming from the western high Arctic.
Stephen Atkinson, a biologist working with Nunuvut and Northwest Territory governments speaks to the unique overlap of boreal forest and tundra terrain in the Churchill region. This incredible blending of ecosystems allows one the possibility of seeing grizzly, polar and black bears all in one day or at least one visit to Churchill. ” There’s nowhere else in the world you can see that, it’s an opportunity to see all three species of bear,” said Atkinson.
If you take an adventure to Churchill in the near future there are some “must see” attractions you should take in before you leave the frontier town. Of course some are season specific while some are year round accessible.
1.- Polar Bears: Not many people are unaware that Churchill is the polar bear mecca for viewing the “king of the Arctic”. During October and November the town is filled with high numbers of travelers hoping to see these amazing creatures in the wild. Of course summer also holds the potential for sighting fewer numbers of polar bears but still the chance exists. If you come during the winter to perhaps view northern lights, you will not see any as they are hunting seals on the Hudson bay ice. So plan a trip during the optimal window and come see the polar bears of Churchill!
Polar bears sparring in the Churchill wildlife management Area. Natural Habitat Adventures photo.
2. Precambrian Shield: When in Churchill you will notice the rocky coastline and glacial polished rocks jutting out of the tundra in different areas of the surrounding area. You really will need to get out on the Precambrian shield and feel the energy that emanates from the heavy stone embedded in the Earth. The geological features are wondrous and magnificent and are some of the oldest rocks on the planet. You can easily become immersed in the natural history of the formations and see how the landscape adapts to their shape and movement.
A view across the Cape Merry barrens past the battery and to Fort prince of Wales. Natural Habitat Adventures photo.
3. Churchill Northern Studies Center and surrounding area: At the far reaches of the main road out of Churchill heading east lies the old Fort Churchill Rocket Range. These grounds are now occupied by the new and improved Churchill Northern Studies Center. The center is a bastion for Arctic researchers and travelers to live and learn from the incredible diversity of the ecosystems colliding in one place. A tour of the facility and exploring the lakes and patterned ground in the area via trails is a must for getting a feel for the true sub-Arctic biome.
Churchill Northern Studies Center. CNSC photo.
4. Northern Lights: Another fairly obvious “must see” in Churchill. Located under Van Allens belt in the magnetic field of our atmosphere, Churchill is an optimal location to take in these mystical and scintillating lights. Natural Habitat Adventures has a new option to view the aurora; an Aurora Pod. With other various viewing options available as well, this is an absolute must see in Churchill.
Natural Habitat’s Aurora Pod and an avid photographer. Alex de Vries – Magnifico photo.
5. -Cape Merry: This is probably the most beautiful and peaceful spot around Churchill. When guiding Churchill Arctic summer groups I would always bring the group there first as a relaxing orientation to the region. We would spend hours looking for flowers and studying the geology of the area. Fort Prince of Wales is just across the Churchill River (often teeming with beluga whales in summer) and the vast expanse of the Hudson Bay unveils itself as far as the eye can see.
Ammunition cache at Cape Merry for cannon protection of Fort prince of Wales. Karen Walker photo.