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.