Underwater innovation: Canadian technology at the forefront
It's being hailed as "the ocean's internet."
OTN will provide vast details about changing marine conditions and their impact on sea animals and fish. With investment from CFI, it will open a new window on marine life, using unprecedented technological innovation developed in Canada, much of it in Atlantic Canada. It will improve the world's ability to study, manage, and protect three quarters of the planet, amid increasing threats from climate change and overfishing.
OTN's Canadian private sector partners are developing long-lasting tags with codes unique to the OTN, thereby avoiding any coding confusion, keeping the data pure and reliable. The tags range in size from an almond to an AA battery and can be surgically implanted or fastened to a fin. The ease of this application means that tagged fish just need to swim over the receiver and the data are recorded, similar to the way we pay for food at a supermarket checkout using a UPC scanner. With OTN, tagged animals are reporting on their own travel activities, making this information-gathering method much more cost-effective and reliable than the traditional means of sending people to sea in ships.
Developing the next generation of technology
OTN will expand these efforts to a global scale. It will integrate existing and future ocean observation projects, pooling their ongoing results in a central database. CFI's investment will also help fund a technology development program to further advance Canada's state-of-the-art tracking technology.
Archival and acoustic tags will be combined into one far more versatile device, with superior data retrieval methods. Take, for example, the Halifax Line, located 130 kilometres offshore of Halifax. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has profiled this shelf from surface to seabed several times a year for about three decades, using research vessels. An OTN curtain along the Halifax Line will provide samples 2,000 times more frequently, with 10 times more accuracy and consistency.
OTN 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. This will result in 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.
Over the next few decades, billions of dollars will be spent on ocean monitoring around the world, so OTN will have tremendous potential for Canada's economy, while enhancing Dalhousie's position as a global leader in marine research. Ultimately, this will lead to a deeper understanding of our oceans and climate change effects, and better-informed approaches to fisheries management and conservation of endangered species.