A Unique International Polar Year Contribution: Lucien Turner, Capelin, and Climatic Change


  • M.J. Dunbar




Animal distribution, Capelin, Climate change, Climatology, History, International Polar Year 1882-83, Ocean temperature, Research, Ungava, Baie d', Québec, Koksoak, Rivière, Kuujjuaq region


Lucien McShann Turner (1847-1909), one of the most able field naturalists in North America in his day, spent two years (1882-84) at Fort Chimo, Quebec, as meteorological observer for the U.S. Army Signal Service during the first International Polar Year. Among his many activities over and above his IPY duties was the collection and description of the fishes of the region. This paper reports on the significance of Turner's first record, in 1884, of the presence of the capelin (Malotus villosus) in very large numbers at the mouth of the Koksoak River. Mallotus is an excellent indicator of marine climate conditions, and the subsequent records of its presence and absence in Ungava Bay are reviewed in relation to climatic change in the North Atlantic-Subarctic region in general.

Key words: capelin, Mallotus villosus, Ungava Bay, International Polar Year