Scottish people speaking French, LOKI and Moby Dick…

Hi everyone, I’m on some pretty cool things in Arctic science at the moment, and here’s a quick update…

In my ~4 year PhD in Oceanography at Universite Laval, there’s a few big exams to get through and  I’ve done two of them already. The first one was the doctoral exam where you get grilled on your general knowledge of Oceanography and climate, covering everything from phytoplankton to effects of volcanic eruptions!! That was a hard one, mainly because you could really get asked anything, but it worked out pretty well. A few weeks ago, I did my first of two big project presentations, where I outlined exactly what work my PhD would involve in the coming years. As you know already, I work on arrow worms, and now I can tell you exactly what my three chapters will involve (drum roll…)

The first chapter will focus on the feeding and diets of chaetognaths in the Arctic, the second on their spatial distributions in the Arctic (i.e. where are the different species found) and the third will focus on their reproduction, growth and what we call their “life history strategies”. I’m positive that once all of this is done, we will have a much better idea of what role chaetognaths play in the Arctic ecosystem. A lot of that is a guess right now.

Now I’m getting to what I want to talk about the most – I did the project presentation (30 minutes to a public audience) in French! Man, to say that I was “bricking it” beforehand would be an understatement. I kinda chose to do it in French (it was an option to do it in English), because I’m trying hard to fit in in Quebec, and that seemed like a good opportunity to pressure myself into learning French. Well I got an A so I guess I can speak OK 😉

Apart from that, Moritz and I have been working on our first LOKI (zooplankton camera) paper based on results from the trip to Hudson Bay last September. That was our first time using the LOKI at sea, and although we had some weaknesses in our sampling strategies, we got a lot of nice photos, and it’s really clear to us that the LOKI will be a big thing in the future of zooplankton research. What I like the most about LOKI  is 2 things: a) you can take photos of living specimens in the water and these are high-quality and b) you can take photos every millimetre throughout the whole water column. Therefore you will get much better, much more detailed information on the distributions of plankton in the sea. For the last like, forever, information about zooplankton comes from sampling with nets, but there are a lot of drawbacks with nets. Net studies definitely won’t tell you how the abundance of a chaetognath varies between 1 and 2mm, and that might be something we want to know! For more info, check out

LOKI team: Moritz and I moving some high-tech equipment

This summer, my family are coming to Canada to visit me, which is gonna be awesome! Dad may need to learn a couple of words in French first though! 😉 Following that, I’m off on a 6-week expedition to the Canadian Arctic on the Canadian Coastguard vessel Amundsen to collect samples ( This is how we live!

Oh one more thing, this weekend I’m participating in a 24-hour live reading of the novel Moby Dick via skype to Sweden ( This will be run by the Mix It Up Digital Performance Festival in Karlskrona. They’re going to try to get through the whole book (which is massive at 600 pages and 135 chapters) in 24 hours. Some of the readers will be live on site and the rest will hail from every country of the world via skype. I’ll be reading Chapter 73 at 2030 EST. I don’t have the link yet, but I’m sure it’ll be uploaded on the youtube page soon!

Well that’s enough for now. Don’t stop grinding, and I’m gonna leave you with this picture, which I like because it hints at a close relationship between urban and Arctic North America.

Btw: the answer’s yes 😉
We can discuss that more in a later post!
Photo from the Ontario Science Centre

Keep it real jx

Comments (3)
  • Kai

    May 21, 2013

    Congratulations on your achievements so far, especially the French part.
    I’m actually curious as to how arctic science impacts Toronto, looking forward to you explaining it. I’m even more curious about your reading of Moby Dick, be sure that I will be watching you read it.

  • Name*

    May 21, 2013

    Love all this Jordan!! Great stuff!! Xx

  • Suzanne

    July 10, 2013

    You amaze me! Having you studying al Laval is a great honour for Quebec.

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