Recherche
et éducation pour prom- ouvoir la conservation

La "Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station" (GMWSRS) est située à North Head, sur l'île de
Grand Manan, à l'entrée de la baie de Fundy. 

Le but de cette station est de promouvoir la recherche et l'éducation afin d'aider à la
conservation dans la baie. C'est un endroit où les scientifiques et les
étudiant(e)s peuvent vivre et étudier la biologie des animaux marins de la baie de Fundy de sorte à pouvoir contribuer des données pour appuyer la conservation et la gestion de ces espèces. 

La recherche
courante vise à réduire les prises accessoires des marsouins et mieux
comprendre l'utilisation et la qualité de l'habitat des marsouins. 
La station de recherche contrôle également la population locale des marsouins,
des baleines noires et des autres baleines et oiseaux de mer dans la
baie de Fundy.

Un des projets courants important est le "Programme de
relargage des marsouins communs".

 

 

 

Research and Education
to Promote Conservation


Laurie Murison
Grand Manan Whale & Research Director
April, 2001

he Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station (GMWSRS), located in North Head, on Grand Manan Island, at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, was incorporated in 1981 and gained charitable status in 1983.

The Research Station’s aim is to promote research and education to aid conservation in the Bay of Fundy. This is a place where scientists and students can live and study the biology of marine animals in the Bay of Fundy, with a goal of contributing data for the conservation and management of these species. The current facility is largely seasonal (spring through fall) with researchers conducting their field studies at these times, although a year-round office is maintained by the managing director. We also work co-operatively with other scientists, both in the Bay and elsewhere. A small marine natural history museum, with emphasis on marine mammals, is open in our facility in the summer, and we offer lectures to promote our public education objectives, working closely with island groups and groups visiting the island. We are also the sponsor of the Fundy Bird Observatory, which aims to monitor the migration of songbirds.

Current conservation research includes studies regarding: understanding and helping reduce porpoise bycatch in local fisheries; porpoise habitat utilisation and habitat quality; monitoring the health of the local porpoise population; and monitoring right whales, other whales and seabirds in the Bay of Fundy. These studies are achieved through opportunistic data collection from whale watch vessels, winter surveys of alcids (razorbills and murres), and surveying and mapping nesting seabirds. We are also involved in conservation management, through harbour porpoise working groups, the Right Whale Recovery Plan, oil spill preparedness planning, whale watch code of ethics, and we are a member of the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium.

Black guillemots, nesting colony on Kent Island

(photo: Sarah Wong, GMWSRS)


Harbour Porpoise Release Program
(HPRP)

The most notable directed conservation work at the GMWSRS in recent years has been the development of the Harbour Porpoise Release Program. Initiated in 1991, the HPRP has led researchers and fishermen to work co-operatively to successfully release over 350 trapped porpoises from herring weirs without compromising the herring catch. A specially designed net (mammal seine) is also available for use by fishermen. This allows the fishermen to "sweep" the porpoise out of the weir without handling the porpoise and without losing the herring catch, since the net has a large mesh size allowing the herring to swim through the net and remain in the weir. The mesh is small enough, however, that porpoises will not go through and can be forced out of the herring weir. This is particularly useful when large numbers of porpoises are entrapped (we have had 14 in one weir at one time). Our mammal seine is also used to remove large marine vertebrates from the herring weirs, such as basking sharks and bluefin tuna. We have also developed techniques, and assist where possible, for those times when larger whales become entrapped, such as minke, humpback and right whales. We recently developed a manual and flash card to assist fishermen in removing harbour porpoises and other large species if we are unavailable to assist. This is in the final stage of development and will be available in hard copy and also on our web site shortly. The GMWSRS is also an important component of recent efforts to disentangle large whales, including right, humpback and finback whales, from fishing gear in the Bay.

Harbour porpoise being supported by GMWSRS
staff, to be released outside the weir.
Note the use of a specially designed large mesh
mammal seine to assist in the capture of the porpoise
without compromising the herring catch.


(photo: Ashley Dayer, GMWSRS)


New Brunswick Stranding Network (NBSN)

A joint project with the New Brunswick Museum is underway to build a network of individuals and organizations who can respond to strandings of marine mammals along the shores of New Brunswick. The majority of animals that strand are single animals that died at sea (from illness, injury, entanglement or collisions) and washed ashore. Single live stranded animals are rare and are usually in poor condition or have made a mistake such as being caught by an out-going tide and are not likely to survive. Sometimes, seal pups have been orphaned but more likely are temporarily separated from their mothers. Although few resources are available to deal with strandings of sick, injured or abandoned seal pups or live strandings of whales, dolphins or porpoises, it is important to report dead animals so that carcasses can be recovered and examined. Much information can be gathered from these that will further our knowledge of the species. Members of the NBSN will try to attend as many strandings as possible but at present we will be limited in the extent to which we can respond, especially in remote areas. We hope that by building a network of individuals and groups, we can begin to respond to more reports. Strandings can be reported directly to the New Brunswick Museum or the GMWSRS or through the Environmental Emergency Number 1-800 565-1633, operated by the Canadian Coast Guard. This number is located on the inside cover of phone books and can be used for strandings for other provinces as well (Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia).

Head area of a dead harbour porpoise.
Valuable information about the health and biology
of the animal was obtained from a detailed
dissection and analysis of the carcass.


(photo: GMWSRS)


Gaskin Fellowship

To mark the millennium, to increase our contribution to the young people of Bay of Fundy and to pay tribute to the late Dr. Gaskin (our former executive director), we now offer a paid summer internship. Preference is given to (in the following order) residents of Grand Manan, Charlotte County, Bay of Fundy, and maritime provinces. Gaskin Fellows are expected to participate in daily research activities as well as specific projects.

 

Contact information:

Laurie Murison, Managing Director
24 Route 776, Grand Manan, NB
Canada E5G 1A1
Ph. (506) 662 3804
Fax (506) 662 9804
Email gmwhale@nbnet.nb.ca
Web site http://www3.nbnet.nb.ca/gmwhale/