On Monday, Jan. 9 2017, MP Andy Fillmore announced $11.4 million towards continued Ocean Tracking Network research operations. The funding comes from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Major Science Initiative and is one of 17 research institutions nationally to receive funding from the $328 million initiative.
Since launching in 2008, OTN has partnered with over 400 researchers in Canada and around the world to track more than 100 commercially valuable and endangered species. The work generates critical knowledge on the distribution and abundance of aquatic species, which impact global food security and have global socio-economic benefits. The research also underpins fisheries management and climate change assessments.
The MSI includes funding for OTN’s core staff, research and monitoring infrastructure (tracking stations), as well as the operation and maintence of equipment including research gliders. The funding is also helping to meet the growing demand of OTN’s Canadian and international user communities by providing additional capacity to communicate data and research outcomes (under OTN’s Data Policy) in support of broader Canadian and international science.
“The OTN platform, built on Canadian collaboration in technology and knowledge expertise, will continue supporting the priorities of federal agencies, particularly Fisheries and Oceans, as well as international partners, by assisting in Canada’s commitment to addressing the stewardship and management of crucial global aquatic resources,” said Dr. Sara Iverson, Scientific Director of the Ocean Tracking Network.
The announcement highlighted two important initiatives under the OTN research umbrella: glider “roboprobe” operations and grey seal “bioprobe” research. Dalhousie master’s student, Benia Nowak spoke with Fillmore about working with Sable Island’s iconic grey seals and their role as “animal oceanograhers.” Glider technician, Sue L’Orsa, provided a piloting demonstration of OTN’s wave glider.
Guests were also treated to a video greeting from Dalhousie researchers, Kim Whoriskey and Dr. Damian Lidgard. Whoriskey and Lidgard are working on Sable Island–300 km off the coast of Halifax–retrieving tracking tags from grey seals who have been carrying the units since the spring.
You can watch the video below for some insight on their work.