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Environmental Monitoring

2018:  MARCH

May 2017 Issue

Monitoring Nutrient
Load in River Thames

Phosphate is a key nutrient for aquatic plants and animals but is a pollutant in excessive quantities. Agricultural runoff and treated wastewater can increase phosphate levels in waterways, stimulating the growth of algae, potentially causing blooms. Algal blooms reduce light for other aquatic plants and can lead to dangerously low oxygen concentrations when the bloom eventually crashes.

Such is the case in the River Thames in the U.K., which, like many rivers worldwide, is under pressure from large urban populations, upstream agricultural practices and ever increasing temperatures. Scientists have historically studied the river by taking monthly or weekly samples, getting only a glimpse of the water quality picture and missing out on large, periodic fluctuations caused by constantly changing run-off conditions.

Scientists have recently started to employ high-frequency, in-situ instruments, such as the Sea-Bird HydroCycle-PO4 sensor, to monitor the river’s water quality on an hourly basis, 24/7. This much finer sampling resolution is making possible new insights into both the level and timing of nutrient loading and has uncovered nutrient hysteresis loops associated with storm events.

Marine Litter
Online Database

Researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) have for the first time compiled all scientific data published on marine litter in a single, comprehensive database now accessible from the online portal AWI Litterbase at www.litterbase.org. Here, both the distribution of litter and its interactions with organisms are presented in global maps. In addition, the regularly updated data sets are fed into graphic analyses, which show, for example, that seabirds and fish are particularly affected by litter.

The latest interaction analysis shows that 34 percent of the species monitored ingest litter, 31 percent colonize it and 30 percent get trapped in it. The total number of affected species is rising steadily and is currently at 1,220, more than twice the number reported in the last review. These numbers will change as the database is updated regularly.

The maps document where researchers have identified litter, but the blank areas of the map don’t necessarily represent clean regions; instead, they’re blind spots, where research efforts need to be intensified. For example, the Mediterranean is well documented as a highly polluted region, yet little is known about litter in Africa, the open ocean or the Dead Sea.

OceanWorks to Upgrade
ONC Station

OceanWorks International is providing an upgrade to the Strait of Georgia Shore Station for Ocean Networks Canada (ONC). The scope consists of design, supply, installation and system integration testing of the upgraded system.

The new system will provide the customer with the ability to monitor and control the power system in the shore station with a state-of-the-art control system. New functionality will allow remote access and include soft start capabilities to enhance the safe use of the equipment. The upgraded shore station will also now share commonality with other shore stations, creating simplicity for the ONC team.

OceanWorks International has supported the ONC Cabled Observatories since 2006.

Arctic Eider Society
Wins Google Award

The Arctic Eider Society has won $750,000 in the Google.org Impact Challenge Canada (https://impactchallenge.withgoogle.com/canada2017). The Arctic Eider Society was one of 10 finalists for the award for their work with the Canadian Inuit and Cree communities as part of their environmental citizen science program.

The data collected help to better understand large-scale cumulative impacts of environmental change on the region’s ecosystem. The SIKU platform in use incorporates data from a SonTek CastAway-CTD, which also plays an important role in the overall monitoring strategy. The SIKU platform uses SonTek and Google technology to provide access to live data for monitoring of communities around the Hudson Bay, Canada (see video at http://bit.ly/2nc0iZe).

eDNA Records
Spring Fish Migration

For the first time, scientists have recorded a spring fish migration simply by conducting DNA tests on water samples.

Environmental DNA (eDNA) strained from 1-liter (quart) samples drawn weekly from New York’s East and Hudson Rivers over six months last year revealed the presence or absence of several key fish species passing through the water on each test day.

The weekly data snapshots created a moving picture that largely reinforced and correlated with knowledge hard won from migration studies conducted over many years with fishnet trawls.

The Rockefeller University study pioneers a way to monitor fish migrations that involves a fraction of the effort and cost of trawling, all without harming the fish. eDNA science offers an easy way to estimate the abundance and distribution of diverse fish species and other forms of marine life in the dark waters of rivers, lakes and seas.

QuietSea PAM Passes
Two Milestones

Sercel’s QuietSea Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) system, which is seamlessly integrated into seismic streamers to detect the presence of marine mammals during seismic operations, has passed two major milestones. One was the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) authorizing the use of QuietSea for seismic survey operations in the U.S. waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The other was when QuietSea was deployed commercially for the first time, on a 3D seismic survey CGG conducted offshore Morocco.

Sercel’s QuietSea marine mammal monitoring system was specifically designed to provide clear and accurate mammal detection and localization information to PAM operators having to make rapid and well-informed decisions during seismic surveys.

The system can be used by an operator at night or at times of poor visibility, and it provides automatic mammal detection during the day, which can complement regular visual sightings by a marine mammal observer.

2018:  MARCH

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