“Of course, the Inuit knew about it before the Westerners came looking for diamonds,” said Markusie Qisiiq, director and guide of Pingualuit Park. “They called it the Crystal Eye of Nunavik.”
From where I stood, under an impossibly blue sky dotted with as many clouds as the tundra had “spots”, that name seemed to fit best.
As we moved through the rough terrain, circling the lake, Philie became more and more animated. He talked about the clarity of the water inside – which is fed only by rain and considered the second purest water in the world (Lake Mashu in Japan is only more transparent); on the mystery of the Arctic char that live there – which scientists still can’t agree on how they got there because there are no streams that come in or out, and that turned to cannibalism to ensure their own survival; and on evidence that shows that in addition to the Inuit, an extinct ancestor of humans wandered here too, long before the meteor even crashed.
“The landscape is a living book”, he concludes. “There’s so much we can learn if we take the time to read it.”
In recent years people have come to do just that.
In 2007, a team of researchers from Laval University in Quebec, led by Professor Reinhard Pienitz, traveled in the winter to collect samples underwater. Pienitz then described it as a “scientific time capsule” and which, although they continue to learn more about it, can reveal clues about past episodes of climate change and how ecosystems have changed. adapted under pressure.