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Ocean researchers share findings off Newfoundland coast

By Stephanie Barrett

The Fisheries and Marine Institute (MI) recently welcomed the University of Rhode Island research vessel R/V Endeavor and the MI’s vessel MV Anne S. Pierce to St. John’s after a week-long research expedition off the coast of the province.

Since July 16, officials from both universities worked on-board to collect data along the southwest tip of the Grand Banks and in Placentia Bay. Using an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), researchers conducted side-sonar and subbottom scans to map the seafloor and studied the unique geology of the southeast coast.

The team identified a number of sonar targets of interest to marine geologists and archaeologists on the cruise, including possible shipwrecks. In Placentia Bay, the Endeavor rendezvoused with the MV Anne S. Pierce, to study the deep coral communities in the area.

On-hand to welcome the vessel and crew were Dr. Ray Gosine, associate vice-president of research at Memorial; Glenn Blackwood, executive director of the Marine Institute; Dr. Kate Moran, associate dean of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island; and Trevor Taylor, provincial minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development.

“This project offers the Marine Institute an opportunity to showcase its unique capabilities in applied research and educational programs for the oceans sectors, especially in the field of remotely operated vehicles,” said Mr. Blackwood. “We are proud to collaborate with the University of Rhode Island once again and share our respective expertise.”

The expedition was made possible by an investment of $250,000 from the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development to explore the maritime cultural landscapes of Placentia Bay and the Grand Banks and provide a better understanding of fishing, history, environmental change, navigation, trade and communications in the region.

Visitors to the Marine Institute website were able the follow the mission last week by viewing live videos from the Endeavor’s control room and ROV cameras and reading the researchers’ daily mission logs.

“The visit of the Endeavor highlights the strong relationship we have built with the University of Rhode Island through our MOU,” added Mr. Blackwood. “The support of the provincial government through the Department of Innovation Trade and Rural Development has been instrumental in building our connections to URI and our collaborations have been an enormous success. Together we are building on our respective capabilities and furthering our opportunities.”

This expedition represents one of the many joint initiatives resulting from the Marine Institute’s partnership with URI. In June, world renowned explorer, Dr. Bob Ballard visited the institute to officially open its new Immersion Presents Theatre, the only one of its kind in Canada. Immersion Presents offers students the opportunity to explore the advanced technologies being used in ocean activities and showcase the career opportunities that these technologies can afford them.