About The Project
The ocean makes up 70% of the earth's surface, making it a vital component of our earth's infrastructure. We know that warming oceans mean an abundance of tropical storms or full-scale hurricanes, but how do temperature changes impact the marine habitat? Will some species flourish? Will other species die? Might some migrate to where the ocean is cooler? How would that impact our fishery management plans? What happens to marine life when ocean currents change or when the salinity level drops?
Researchers from around the world have agreed to join OTN's tracking effort to answer these questions. In order to track ocean movement and temperature change, OTN must extend to all five of the world's oceans — the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Southern, and Arctic — and all seven continents. Hundreds of researchers from OTN's 14 ocean regions will participate, including leading experts in animal movement and behaviour, physical oceanography, data management and analysis, and marine law. While researchers are tracking Greenland shark migration patterns in the Canadian Arctic, other scientists will be tracking movements of king penguins as they feed in Antarctic waters. This means that the data collected will be comprehensive, allowing for a true analysis of how marine life and the climate are changing worldwide.
There are many reasons for this ambitious effort. Since the advent of industrialized fishing in the 1950s, the world has seen a 90% drop in the population of large oceanic fish, such as bluefin tuna and giant blue marlin. The ongoing decline in biodiversity reduces the ocean's ability to filter pollutants and resist diseases and noxious algal blooms. A recent study led by Dalhousie scientists predicted the collapse of all species of wild seafood by 2048 unless fundamental changes to current fisheries management practices are implemented.
Furthermore, climate change is now widely acknowledged as a genuine threat to the health and survival of our planet. Oceans are intricately linked to climate change. They determine weather patterns and trigger some of the world's most devastating natural disasters. Monitoring our oceans more closely will shed critical light on the effects and potential solutions to this pressing global problem.
Through OTN, thousands of commercial and endangered marine species will be tagged to help improve fishing practices and better understand the oceans. Knowing where fish actually travel means that it’s easier to designate new marine protected areas, set shipping routes, and approve oil and gas exploration.
The OTN research program focuses on five multidisciplinary themes:
- Ocean physics and modelling
- The biology and behaviour of highly migratory marine living resources
- The impact of climate change
- Resource management
- The international social and legal framework for oceans
OTN, headquartered at Dalhousie University, unites the finest marine scientists in the world in the most comprehensive and revolutionary examination of marine life and ocean conditions that will change how scientists and world leaders understand and manage pressing global concerns such as fisheries management in the face of climate change.