Ocean Tracking Network directors, Sara Iverson and Fred Whoriskey, accepted the 2016 Nature Inspiration Award on behalf of the global OTN at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa on November 9.
The Nature Inspiration Awards recognize individuals and organizations that, through their work or specific projects, encourage Canadians to take an interest in natural history, create links with nature and contribute to its preservation.
Headquartered at Dalhousie University, OTN has been tracking the movements and survival of aquatic animals globally since 2008 and has grown to include a database of more than 140 valued study species in collaboration with over 100 research institutions world-wide. OTN was recognized in the large not-for-profit category of the Nature Inspiration Awards for its leadership, innovation and inspiration.
“We are honored and humbled to have received this award,” said executive director, Fred Whoriskey. “It comes because visionary backing from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada unlocked the potential of Canada’s world class research community and the OTN staff and governance to tackle work that needed to be done in our oceans”
OTN has become a global leader and important component of the United Nations Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission’s Global Ocean Observing System, fostering excellence, diversity, focus and coherence among the pan-Canadian and international research communities.
Operating at local, regional, and international scales, OTN’s research is helping guide the conservation and sustainable development of the ocean. OTN researchers work on projects like: the sustainable expansion of shell fish farms and artisan fisheries; working collaboratively with harvesters, industry and government, to provide information on population structure of staple fisheries; and providing the global infrastructure on which to track the movement and survival of highly migratory species and ecological regulators, like sharks.
OTN’s innovative approach to research has generated a cohesive network of scientists, sharing information, resources, and fostering long-term impact. Interdisciplinary tools and partnerships have revealed previously undescribed linkages between parasites and spawning mortality in Pacific salmon. Elsewhere, industry partnerships have yielded new Canadian technology commercialized on a global scale: specialized transceivers deployed on grey seals on Sable Island are providing new insights into their behaviour and that of other tagged ocean animals, including cod and tuna; and the world’s smallest tag is providing a window into the early life stages of several commercial fish species.
OTN has developed an effective global monitoring platform, reinforcing Canada’s commitment to sustainable ocean development and inspiring the participation of partners, including 8-year old Flordian, Cory Diaz, who earned a Gulf of Mexico Guardian Award for her tagging fundraiser. Innovative research and technology continues to inspire popular media including the Rick Mercer Report and several segments on Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet.
“This recognition is a huge boost for everyone involved, and we are deeply grateful.”
The Award was presented by the Canadian Museum of Nature CEO, Margaret Beckel, and The Globe and Mail editor in chief, David Walmsley.