SI2015-C-2: “The Ocean Tracking Network’s Sable Island Acoustic array and its link to regional aquatic telemetry activities” – Frederick Whoriskey

Starting in 2008, Dalhousie University’s Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) began deploying Canadian state-of-the-art acoustic receivers and oceanographic monitoring equipment in key global ocean locations. These are being used to document the movements and survival of marine animals carrying acoustic tags (“pingers”), and to document how both are influenced by oceanographic conditions. The species tracked include marine mammals, sea turtles, squid, and fishes including sharks, sturgeon, eels, tuna, salmon, and cod, depending on regional interests. OTN first placed receivers off of Sable Island in 2013, as part of its North West Atlantic Ocean telemetry coverage. A key impetus for the Sable Array was a tagging program for white sharks initiated by  US researchers in Massachusetts; they believed that a significant fraction of their white sharks would travel to Sable Island to feed on grey seals. The Sable Array also supports a team of Dalhousie University/Bedford Institute of Oceanography researchers who use acoustic telemetry to track the movements and intra and inter-specific associations of grey seals.  More recently, a study has begun to examine the movements, survival and inter-year site fidelity of immature female blue sharks tagged off Halifax. At least one of these animals has traveled to Sable Island. The Sable Island Array is serviced by state-of-the-art autonomous vehicles piloted from Halifax, making it one of the most advanced acoustic telemetry facilities in the world.