SOURCE: Oceana Canada

Oceana Canada

August 23, 2017 08:00 ET

Expedition will allow Canadians to explore never-before seen parts of Canada's oceans with innovative underwater robot and round-the-clock live streaming

Oceana Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada join forces in Gulf of St. Lawrence expedition

QUEBEC CITY, QC--(Marketwired - August 23, 2017) - Today, Oceana Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, along with Alexandra Cousteau, will set sail to explore never-before-seen areas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The week-long expedition is the most in-depth visual exploration of the area in Canada's history, and its findings will help understand and protect habitat essential to the health of our oceans.

Sailing from Québec City, the Canadian Coast Guard Science vessel Martha L. Black and its crew will explore important coastal and deep-water areas of the ocean floor using ROPOS, a state-of-the-art underwater robot that will collect samples and scientific data while capturing high-definition video. For the first time ever, Canadians and the world can participate in all aspects of ocean exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence through a round-the-clock, live broadcast -- from a first-hand view of the seafloor, to daily life on a research vessel and what it takes for scientists and technicians to work in the control room. Viewers will have opportunities to interact with the expedition team and learn about oceanographic research with real-time question and answer periods.

Throughout the expedition, the CCGS Martha L. Black will host scientists, technicians, videographers and Alexandra Cousteau, Senior Oceana Advisor and granddaughter of Jacques-Yves Cousteau. In addition to collecting scientific information, the expedition will capture images and video that brings the richness of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to life. A second research vessel, the Leeway Marine Odyssey, will host a science team that will collect vital information about marine species visible from the surface of the sea, such as endangered Right whales as well as seabirds, turtles and sharks.

"For many, our oceans are out of sight, out of mind; but they are integral to the health of our planet and our ability to feed humanity's growing population in a sustainable way," said Alexandra Cousteau. "The Gulf of St. Lawrence expedition continues the legacy of my grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and I am honoured to be part of uncovering and sharing the research needed to conserve this vulnerable ecosystem."

The Gulf of St. Lawrence is one of the most productive marine areas in Canada. The nutrient-rich currents from the Atlantic and Arctic oceans combine with freshwater input from the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River system, making it an important and productive area for several coastal and marine species. The area is home to diverse marine life, including cold-water corals and sea pens, as well as Right whales, blue whales, sea turtles and basking sharks. In turn, the area supports many thriving commercial, recreational and Food, Social and Ceremonial fisheries, including the lobster and snow crab fisheries. For thousands of years, Indigenous Peoples and coastal and inland communities have depended on this resource and it is a vital part of Canada's identity and heritage.

"Research carried out in collaboration with Oceana Canada, one of our highly respected partners, will further contribute to our understanding of the dynamic Gulf of St. Lawrence," said the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. "As we celebrate Canada's 150th year, I am so proud that our scientists are continuing in the proud DFO tradition of conducting important science work at sea."

"We're excited to partner with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to connect Canadians to the wonders of our oceans by using a world-class Remotely Operated Vehicle with high-definition, live-action video," said Josh Laughren, Oceana Canada Executive Director. "This technology creates a one-of-a-kind expedition experience allowing Canadians to discover the wonders of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in ways never before possible."

For more than a decade, Oceana has been conducting expeditions around the world, exploring and protecting habitats off the coasts of Europe, the Philippines, Chile and the United States. Oceana Canada is excited to bring this expertise and passion for ocean exploration to Canada in 2017. Through expeditions, we can better understand and protect our precious marine resource.

Join Oceana Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Alexandra Cousteau for a journey into the wonders of Canada's oceans. Learn more at www.oceana.ca/GulfofStLawrence.

About Oceana Canada
Oceana Canada was established in 2015 as an independent charity and is part of the largest international group dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Canada has the longest coastline in the world, with an ocean surface area of 7.1 million square kilometres, or 70 per cent of its landmass. Oceana Canada believes that we have an obligation to our country, and the world, to manage our natural resources responsibly and provide a sustainable source of protein for the world's growing population. Oceana Canada works with civil society, academics, fishers and government to return Canada's formerly vibrant oceans to health and abundance. By restoring Canada's oceans, we can strengthen our communities, reap greater economic and nutritional benefits, and protect our future.

Partnership Fund – New Science Investments at Fisheries and Oceans Canada (Budget 2016)
As part of the Government of Canada's new investments in science, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) established a Partnership Fund, providing $5 million per year in support of collaborative research and increasing collective understanding of our oceans and freshwater. The Fund supports new partnerships and collaborations within the ocean and freshwater sciences community (including universities, aquatic research networks, environmental organizations, Indigenous groups and other stakeholders, both in Canada and abroad). These partnerships contribute to the best available science in support of decision-making about Canada's oceans, lakes and rivers. DFO is committed to fostering and leveraging these important partnerships and the fund supports scientific research projects and activities across the country, including those related to: science data collection and integration; ocean and freshwater monitoring; and, science in support of ocean literacy, and the management, conservation, protection and promotion of ocean and freshwater resources.

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