The science of summer

For a crack team of researchers, summer means time on the waters of Delta Marsh, gathering intelligence on what makes the iconic wetland tick.

DUC scientist Dale Wrubleski scans the horizon for floating vegetation as his boat navigates Waterhen Creek, one of the channels that connects Delta Marsh to Lake Manitoba. ©DUC/Jeope Wolfe

jeope-byline

A first-person account by DUC designer
Jeope Wolfe

At a time of day I’m typically blazing through a bowl of cereal before heading to the office, I’m instead waiting my turn to hop aboard a boat to join a crew of DUC research technicians bound for a day’s work in Manitoba’s Delta Marsh. It’s 7:45 in the morning, and the heat of a noon-day sun is already hanging in the air.

The technicians power through a rigorous, four-month schedule on the marsh, pulling long days in all forms of weather, wind and waves. They’re compiling key data – on everything from water quality to submersed vegetation density to fish and pelican populations – that will help strengthen the health and vitality of this world-renowned wetland. I’m here on a day-pass of sorts, documenting the work over one midsummer day, and generally trying to keep out of the way.

As my boat winds through narrow channels and across swaths of open water as smooth as glass, taking me from station to station to record the day’s assignments, I catch glimpses of what the work is all for. Duck broods skitter to safety. Grebes dip below the surface, and stately pelicans take wing. It’s a perspective that few people ever see. When time comes to say goodbye, I leave feeling very fortunate.

Research at Delta Marsh
Research technicians Adrian Zacharias and Taylor Naaykens retrieve a Hydrolab from an open-water section of the marsh. Several times over the course of the summer, technicians collect and redeploy the devices to gather data on water temperature, clarity, conductivity and dissolved oxygen levels.
©DUC/Jeope Wolfe
Research at Delta Marsh
A common carp fingerling is measured at one of a handful of small fish monitoring stations located across the marsh.
©DUC/Jeope Wolfe
Research at Delta Marsh
The object of his inspection: a captured minnow is reflected in the sunglasses of research technician Paul Fafard.
©DUC/Jeope Wolfe
Research at Delta Marsh
Research technicians David Klein and Jillian St. George tally and measure a variety of small fish species at a monitoring station in a secluded bay of the marsh.
©DUC/Jeope Wolfe
Delta Marsh
While in transit through one of Delta Marsh’s labyrinthine channels, one of the team’s boats spooks a mallard hen.
©DUC/Jeope Wolfe
Research at Delta Marsh
Many hands making light work, research technicians Jillian St. George, David Klein and Paul Fafard gather results at a fish monitoring station.
©DUC/Jeope Wolfe
Research at Delta Marsh
On a hot July day, research technician Jillian St. George finds respite in the shade of a mid-day cloud.
©DUC/Jeope Wolfe
Research at Delta Marsh
No more than a few feet deep in most places across its 18,500-hectare expanse, the calm waters of Delta Marsh offer up a moment of reflection.
©DUC/Jeope Wolfe
Research at Delta Marsh
DUC scientist Dale Wrubleski takes stock of a recently-repaired carp exclusion structure erected on Waterhen Creek.
©DUC/Jeope Wolfe
Research at Delta Marsh
DUC scientist Dale Wrubleski confers with Julian Sigurdson as he checks a device that gauges current strength and flow through Waterhen Creek.
©DUC/Jeope Wolfe

DUC Podcast

Learn more about DUC's groundbreaking work at Delta Marsh and other conservation projects in Episode One of the DUC Podcast!

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