The Ocean Tracking Network 2023 annual report

A message from the directors:

Fred Whoriskey, Sara Iverson and Robert Lennox

As we transition into a new year, we’re excited to reflect on the Network’s accomplishments and all that is to come in the newest phase of OTN.

We are thrilled to have received $38.5 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) Major Science Initiatives (MSI) Fund, commencing April 2023. This continuation of funding is allowing OTN to expand core operations and activities—as well as its headquarters staff—into 2029.

On the granting front, OTN recently received $2 million from CFI’s Innovation Fund to facilitate upgrades and replacements to its tracking infrastructure, which is essential for enhancing existing research capacity and enabling OTN to maintain and evolve its world-class platform. New equipment purchases will expand OTN’s unique equipment loaner program, add an additional Slocum glider to OTN’s glider fleet and support essential upgrades to aged infrastructure. OTN was also awarded a $1.5 million Alliance grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council in 2023 to support the continuation of Apoqnmatulti’k (Mi’kmaw for ‘we help each other’) for an additional five years. Additionally, Dalhousie University’s application to the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF; Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI)-lead)—a $154 million federally-funded program to investigate the ocean’s role in climate change—of which OTN is participating in two clusters.

A new phase of funding is coinciding with new leadership: Robert Lennox began his term as OTN’s incoming scientific director at the start of 2023. Throughout the year, Rob transitioned into his role, taking over more leadership and administrative responsibilities from Sara Iverson, while actively establishing his faculty and research program within Dalhousie’s biology department and pursuing collaborative grants with colleagues from around the world. Although Sara officially stepped down as scientific director at the close of 2023, she will remain intricately connected to OTN through scientific advisory and research roles—and as a forever OTN family member. 

As OTN plans its operations for 2024-2029, a new strategic plan is poised to meet the challenges posed by emerging trends and needs within the national and international research landscapes. Under this plan, OTN will stay true to its core priorities from the last five years and continue to foster the relationships and collaborations that have made the Network so impactful in Canada and across the globe.

We hope this review of our 2023 activities finds you well, and we look forward to updating you on future projects and collaborations. Keep us updated on your research or activities by taking a photo in the field or wherever you may find yourself and tag us on X @OceanTracking.   

Fred, Sara, Rob and the OTN headquarters staff