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Sea Creatures to be Tracked Electronically in Worldwide Effort; 'Salmon to Whales, Turtles to Sharks'

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HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- Dalhousie University has become the epicenter for international oceans’ research that will change how scientists and world leaders understand and manage pressing global concerns such as fisheries management in the face of climate change.

The Ocean Tracking Network, headquartered at Dalhousie University and led by Dr. Ron O’Dor, unites the finest marine scientists in the world, in the most comprehensive and revolutionary examination of marine life and ocean conditions, and how they are changing as the earth warms.

A global monitoring system will track the movement and behaviour of diverse marine species — salmon to turtles to whales. The network will establish ‘listening curtains,’ comprised of innovative Canadian-made tracking technology, in 14 ocean regions covering the entire planet.

The network’s technological capacity will be provided by private sector companies, like AMIRIX Systems Inc., Lotek Wireless Inc., Satlantic Inc. and Kintama Research Corp. The network will enable the world’s best minds in marine science and management to collaborate among research institutions located in Canada, the United States, Argentina, Bermuda, Spain, South Africa, Japan, Australia, and elsewhere.

The results will provide the most comprehensive data to inform marine management practices ever available and will determine how life-sustaining ocean properties are changing in response to climate change in a way never before possible.

This research is enabled by the largest federal government university research award in Dalhousie – and Atlantic Canadian – history: a $35-million investment by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI); supplemented by an additional $10 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC); and $327,000 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). This investment will leverage in excess of $100 million of in kind and financial contributions from our OTN partners world-wide.

“This support from the federal government follows a rigorous merit review of proposals submitted by universities across Canada. For Dalhousie to have been successful is a recognition of the timeliness of this research,” said Dr. Carl Breckenridge, VP (Research). “It also recognizes the international expertise of Dalhousie’s scientists, particularly the leadership of marine biologist Dr. Ron O’Dor.”

Dalhousie’s undergraduate, graduate and professional students will benefit directly from the knowledge generated by this research initiative. Science students will have the opportunity to join research teams and to publish articles in collaboration with their internationally-recognized professors. Humanities students will focus their research on the pressing local and legal issues raised by technological advances and the consequent impact on ocean management.

“Dalhousie is committed to building capacity in the next generation of leaders who will assume responsibility for the decision-making required by an increasingly complex and changing environment,” said Dr. Tom Traves, President.

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