The University of Victoria has received $7.2 million to maintain its monitoring network that helps scientists study the behaviour of southern resident killer whales. Photo courtesy of University of Victoria.

UVic receives funds to study southern killer whales

Funding from Ottawa will help UVic maintain network of observatories

New funding from the federal government will help University of Victoria researchers maintain efforts to monitor Canada’s ocean and coasts, including endangered southern resident killer whale habitat.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada Wednesday announced $7.2 million for UVic’s Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) initiative. Money comes from the Oceans Protection Plan, a fund of $1.5 billion. ONC will use the funding to to augment its current network of oceanographic radars and underwater hydrophones in key coastal locations.

“ONC’s innovative technologies and expertise in cabled observatories, interactive sensors and big data management enables informed, evidence-based decision-making for good ocean management, disaster mitigation and environmental protection,” says UVic President Jamie Cassels. “It also helps keep Canada at the technological forefront of a sector that creates economic benefits and good-paying jobs for Canadians.”

Established in 2007, ONC operates ocean observatories that collect data on physical, chemical, biological, and geological data about about the oceans over long time periods, supporting research in variety of fields.

Data about sea-surface currents informs maritime navigation and emergency responses that range from distressed ships to oil spills. Acoustic data measuring underwater noise in specific marine mammal habits meanwhile will provide a vital compilation of data over time and help inform any mitigation strategies needed to protect marine mammals such as killer whales from underwater noise.

“Ocean Networks Canada is excited to be working with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to deliver products that align with the Ocean Protection Plan objectives,” says ONC President and CEO Kate Moran.