A couple of years ago, a friend visited around the time of my birthday and proffered a surprise present. It was a picture of a narwhal and a poem which she'd carefully ink-drawn for me using different sources from the internet (see below). To say I was touched is an understatement, particularly as Angela isn't a friend I met through my remote travels, although we have travelled fairly extensively around Scotland. We met through another of my hobbies and learned that we were the same age and had studied concurrently at Aberdeen University, but hadn't known each other until much later.
As can be seen by the picture, her degree was in Zoology, a subject which requires careful illustrations. As drawing is a skill which has completely passed me by, I am in awe of those who can do so at all, let alone such a beautiful picture as this.
I recently asked Angela whether she would mind if I scanned the picture to put on this website and I think she was a little surprised, but acquiesced. The reason for this is that this summer, I shall finally be completing the circle of Arctic countries in a visit to the Canadian Arctic, having worked almost widdershins (Svalbard - Norway, Eastern Greenland, Russia, Alaska and now Canada). As a country, I have a lot of Canada to explore - doesn't everyone, given how huge it is? - and it is certainly a country which has always drawn me, given my father grew up there. Add to that the potential of seeing this most elusive of sea-creatures and completing the circle and it wasn't hard to make the decision. Harder was working out the logistics.
However, thanks to Jonneke at Beluga Adventures (yes, I hope we might be lucky to see those too), the logistics have been smoothed out insofar as one can plan. And in due course, I shall be heading over there.
Last year, I attended a talk at the Edinburgh Book Festival given by the renowned BBC cameraman Doug Allan. His wildlife CV has to be pages long and much of the footage has been taken underwater. When questioned what would he most like to photograph which he hadn't yet achieved, he replied that he would love to see male narwhal fighting with their tusks (the tusk is really a huge long tooth). I don't anticipate being in the water, but even to observe them from the ice floe would be a thrill for me, not to mention camping in polar bear territory - a departure from viewing them from a ship or an old school bus!