By: Mike Wong
Day 3 of leg 3 was a very successful day for the Canada C3 Expedition’s science program.
Mike Wong, Paula Piilonen and Ben Sutherland had the chance to survey parts of the Mingan Island National Park accompanied by Nancy Denommee, a biologist with Parks Canada. She has over 25 years of experience and a passion for the study and conservation of plants. With a special research permit for collecting plants in national parks, we were able to retrieve over 30 unique specimens including lichens, mosses and vascular plants. According to our specialist, some of these species are only found in a few selected places in Canada. Following the expedition, the plants that were collected will be made available to researchers in Canada and around the world as part of the National Herbarium at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.
We were surprised to encounter a very rare species of dandelion that is only found in the Mingan Islands and in one locality in Newfoundland. It looks similar to the common dandelion that invades your front lawn, but a closer looks reveals that its petals, as well as the shape of the seeds it produces later in the summer, have very distinct shapes. We only saw a few specimens as part of our walk and we were lucky to collect one of them to back to the Canadian Museum of Nature.
Another species that we were hoping that we would be able to encounter was the Mingan thistle, but unfortunately, we were not able to find it during our day of surveying as it is only found much deeper in the forest.
In addition, we collected sediment samples for microplastic analysis, as well as water samples for the analysis of environmental DNA. We were able to bring these water samples back to the laboratory on the ship and prepare them for future analysis. Now, they’re sitting in our -80ºC freezer.
The partnerships and connections we make during the Canada C3 expedition are invaluable for future research. Being able to meet Parks Canada staff and local community leaders help to form a partnership that we can build on in the future – we know now that if we need other environmental samples from Mingan, we know who to call!