Ocean scientists from around the world are in Halifax this week for a conference on tracking fish and marine animals and many of the researchers use technology designed and manufactured in Bedford, Nova Scotia.
The 250 scientists study everything from great white sharks to salmon.
The Bedford based company VEMCO demonstrated a new acoustic tracking system over the weekend at the Banook Canoe Club for researchers attending the conference.
Steve Cooke of Carleton University says the prototype could allow researchers to follow fish in real time.
“I see the potential to tell managers in the Lower Fraser when sockeye salmon are moving upstream and at what depth,” he said.
Many of the scientists, like Great Lakes researcher Aaron Fisk, are already familiar with VEMCO.
“VEMCO is the world leader,” he said. “I don’t know whether the people of Halifax realize the excellent reputation they have.”
Denise King with VEMCO says the company has developed passive acoustic receivers that can collect data underwater for a year or more, capturing detailed information transmitted from tagged marine animals.
“We now have a whole variety of transmitters, very large ones, that can last 10 years, that are implanted in animals like great white sharks and we have tiny ones that weigh less than half gram, ones that go into a salmon smolt,” she said.
“So everything from a salmon to great white sharks.”
Canada’s federal fisheries department and Laval University teamed up to attach satellite tags to American eels that were then released off the coast of Halifax.
In 2014, for the first time ever, the eels were tracked in the open ocean, presumably on their migration route across the Atlantic Ocean to the Sargasso Sea.
“But we never track eels there, so we don’t know where they go exactly, which routes they take, do they do that,” said researcher Melanie Beguer.
The conference continues all week with dozens of presentations from researchers, including the seven year saga of how scientists finally tracked eels on their journey across the Atlantic Ocean.