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Event Dates: July 11-16, 2023
Total Cost: $2,849.00 CDN
Make eye contact with a beluga whale! The Churchill River estuary is one of the summering grounds for the largest population of beluga whales in the Arctic. Churchill is the only place in the world you can you get as up close and personal with the charming and highly vocal white whales as they migrate to the river estuary to feed, give birth and molt. As a participant in Belugas in the Bay, you have three opportunities to view beluga whales in their natural habitat – an estuary tour; a kayaking tour; and a “Fort and Whale” tour combining whale watching and a guided visit to the Prince of Wales Fort, a National Historic Site on the opposite side of the Churchill River. You will also observe the many birds of the area, go on walking tours of Cape Merry National Historic Site, and explore town and other coastal areas. Evening lectures on marine biology and a local cultural presentation help round out this truly educational experience.
As you arrive in Churchill, you will be greeted by a staff member from the CNSC at the airport or train station. If you’ve arrived early in Churchill to get a head start on exploring we will meet you at your accommodations. Once gathered, we will leave the town of Churchill and make our way to the CNSC located 23 km east of town in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area. While we’re here for the whales, don’t forget to keep your eyes open for other Subarctic wildlife as we transfer to the CNSC.
After arriving at the CNSC, you will be welcomed and checked in. Settle into the space with an orientation to the LEED-certified facility, and then head out for your first hike during your stay! The Ramsay Trail will take you through the forest tundra, and you can soak in the wild sights and sounds of the Subarctic before you head back just in time for dinner! Dinner will be provided onsite at our wonderful and spacious cafeteria, where there is always something good cooking! After dinner we will have our first lecture which will introduce us to the biology of the beluga, the white whale of the North.
After breakfast we will promptly depart the CNSC for a lovely scenic drive via the coast and will arrive to the Churchill River for an estuary tour with Sea North Tours. This tour will take us into the Churchill River estuary, where the salt water in Hudson’s Bay and fresh water from the Churchill River mix to create brackish water. Every summer the belugas gather in the Churchill River estuary – estimates range up to around 3,500 whales in this small area! Marvel at the multiple pods from zodiac boats, which get us incredibly close to these majestic animals.
After the tour lunch will again be held on the beach, and then we will make our way over to Goose Creek. At Goose Creek we will be given a tour and will be able to explore the observational tower, where we will be able to see various birds and wildlife from a few stories high! Dinner is back at the CNSC, and we wrap up our evening with a lecture on beluga biology and ecology.
Today we will be departing the CNSC after breakfast to a tidal flats walk at Bird Cove. Keep your eyes and cameras peeled for some birds in the area such as arctic terns, ptarmigan, and golden plovers! After some exploration we will depart to go for a Fort Tour with Sea North Tours, where we will be able to explore the 250 year old Prince of Wales Fort, and learn about the history and mistakes made during the construction and takeover of the Fort from the British to the French army. On our way over, watch for beluga wales in the water! We’ll have some time during our boating adventure to observe the whales again, and listen to their calls via a hydrophone – you’ll soon learn why the belugas are known as the “sea canary” with their frequent and varied vocalizations. After our full day of history, hiking, and whale watching, we will be having dinner back at the CNSC and end our evening with a lecture of beluga interactions with people.
This morning we will be departing after breakfast to kayak with Sea North Tours where we will be able to come close to the beluga whales and see them in a whole new way! Lunch is served back at the CNSC, and afterwards we will depart for a hike at Twin Lakes. We will be able to explore the boreal forest, soak in the scenes at Twin Lakes, and potentially see some birds! After dinner this evening we will listen to a presentation on beluga whale research.
After breakfast today we will depart for a tour of historic Cape Merry, part of the Prince of Wales Fort National Historic Site. Lunch will be held at a restaurant in Churchill, followed by an interpretive tour at the Itsanitaq Museum, where we will learn about Inuit history and explore various carvings, tools, and artefacts throughout the museum. Afterwards, we will visit the Parks Canada Visitor Centre and listen to an interpretive tour on the environmental and social history of Churchill. The rest of the afternoon will be free to explore the town of Churchill. Back at the CNSC for the evening, we will have our final dinner followed by a cultural presentation. A farewell gathering will end our evening before we spend our final night at the CNSC.
After a final breakfast at the CNSC we will check out of our rooms and gather for a final presentation on current research being conducted at the CNSC by one of our in-house scientists, then transfer to train, plane, or other accommodations. Make sure to look out as you head your way to your final destination and take one last look at the wild sub-Arctic environment before you head on to your next adventure!
Please note that this is a sample itinerary only. All inclusions listed will be offered but may happen on different days than listed and may be slightly different than described. Lecture topics will vary depending on the guide and their area of research. Occasionally due to events beyond our control certain activities may need to be delayed or cancelled for safety reasons.