As part of an international effort to catalogue the diversity and abundance of life under the ocean, a Memorial University scientist has recently returned from a Canadian leg of the global scientific mission.
This fall Dr. Snelgrove and scientists from around the world will wrap up 10 years of work on the International Census of Marine Life that aims to improve our understanding of the world’s oceans.
Dr. Snelgrove, professor of ocean sciences at Memorial’s Ocean Sciences Centre and director of the Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (CHONe), is leading the group charged with bringing together census findings. CHONe is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
Through the CHONe, Dr. Snelgrove and a number of scientists and graduate students, including Memorial graduate students, spent time aboard the CCGS Hudson exploring the Northeast Channel off the shores of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Their work focused on seabed geology and biology, water column microbial communities and seabird ecology as a portion of the overarching census project.
The CCGS Hudson was equipped with a ROPOS (remotely operated deep water submersible) – basically an underwater robot the size of a small car with a GPS system, high-definition video and digital cameras and manoeuvrable arms – to collect specimens and capture images.
An innovative aspect of the investigators’ research was the close integration of “exploration” efforts in waters greater than 1,000 metres in depth with the development of manipulative, long-term investigations on marine ecological processes.
The research team has also been mapping the structure of the seabed within the Northeast Channel Coral Conservation area – covering 424-square kilometres -- at an unprecedented level of detail, and are now confident in being able to link video-based and sonar-based measures of coral distribution.
Memorial was one of two lead universities aboard the CCGS Hudson – the other being Dalhousie University – with a team primarily made up of master’s and PhD students from the University of Victoria to Laval to Dalhousie to Memorial.
The scientific expedition left the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth on July 29 and returned Aug. 11. Besides the Northeast Channel, the two-week cruise covered explored the Jordan Basin, the German Bank and the Northeast Fan – reaching depths of 3,000 metres. Seabird and marine mammal surveys have also taken place.
The research network emphasizes a multi-disciplinary and a multi-institutional collaborative approach, with the ultimate goal of providing new scientific knowledge to inform ocean policy development and ocean management, to the benefit of all Canadians.
To learn more about the Canadian Healthy Oceans Network, please visit www.marinebiodiversity.ca/CHONe. To visit the blog about the journey of the CCGS Hudson, go to hudson0302010.blogspot.com.