Illness to Expedition Leader causes Scow Red Deer River Voyage to Postponed for Twelve Months

The Dinosaur Hunting Expedition by Boat Expedition, an attempt to re-create the epic 1910 voyage of Barnum Brown and a team of scientists from the American Museum of Natural History along the Red Deer River has been abandoned.

The brave and dedicated crew of the scow (a flat bottomed boat, specially built for this journey on the Red Deer River) had already overcome a series of daunting challenges in the first few days of their expedition but the collapse and hospitalisation of the expedition’s leader Darren Tanke (Royal Tyrrell Museum) has led to the decision to call off the voyage this year.

Writing in the Dinosaur Hunting by Boat blog Darren Tanke explains:

“I have been dizzy for several weeks and quite stressed out during the trip.  This morning I was hiking to a higher spot in order to update this blog when I felt my health declining rapidly.  I was alone in the badlands and staggering along like a drunken man, with my head very dizzy and not thinking properly.  I saw some vehicles heading for the day use area in the Dry Island Park, and knowing I needed medical help, headed that way.  I approached a group of hikers getting ready to set out.  As I reached the first person, I gather I collapsed into some tall grass.  Don’t remember much after that, but it resulted in an ambulance being called and me being rushed to the Three Hills Hospital.  This effectively ended my involvement in the scow trip and shortened it considerably.  Blood tests revealed low potassium levels and low haemoglobin so I was anaemic.  That and the stress and exhaustion of the trip combined to bring me down.”

The Scow “Peter C Kaisen” on the Red Deer River 2010

On the river

Picture Credit: Darren Tanke

The beautiful scow, named after one of the original 1910 expedition members moored in the exact spot where Barnum Brown anchored in 1910.  Unfortunately, the illness suffered by Darren has led to the cancelling of the rest of the expedition.  However, the team are undaunted and are keen to attempt the voyage next year, Darren comments:

“The scow was pulled out of the river at Newcastle Beach in Drumheller late in the afternoon [7th July].  It is in storage on a farm in Consort, Alberta with plans to try again next year.  Next year we will use larger crews at all times – this way we can get the scow off rocks when it is stuck on one.  We will also explore some system (inflatable?) to lift the scow off rocks.  Thin steel on the bottom will no doubt help slide over protruding rocks.  Also considering bringing a support boat with a powerful motor.”

These sound like very sensible precautions, perhaps a medical check up on the crew members before they start out next year as an extra safety measure – just in case.

We have left a message of support on the Dinosaur Hunting by Boat web log and no doubt the brave Canadian/American team will try again next year – we will keep you posted on their progress.

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