Nfld. & Labrador

Ahoy, Hebron! Non-profit expedition currently exploring Labrador

Oceana, a non-profit dedicated to increasing awareness of ocean-related issues, is currently exploring the ocean near Labrador and using some really cool gadgets to do it.

The marine life survey aims to increase understanding of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Robert Rangeley is director of science at Oceana Canada, and one member of the expedition. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

There's a vessel going around the coast of Northern Labrador on a quest to unlock some of the ocean's unknowns.

"We do these expeditions to help contribute knowledge around our oceans so that we can better manage our oceans for use," said Robert Rangeley, director of science for Oceana Canada.

The non-profit organization focuses on ocean research and issues facing marine life, and it's exploring the area with its vessel the Leeway Odyssey.

Members of the Nunatsiavut Government and Fisheries and Oceans Canada are all joining along for the 10-day ride. They're coming together to find and document significant marine habitats in Northern Labrador. 

Setting sail for knowledge 

"Our federal government made this commitment to protect 10 per cent of our oceans and that's very important, so our previous expeditions have actually helped to contribute knowledge about our oceans and what areas need a certain sort of special management practices," Rangeley told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning.  

And one of those areas which may need special management is the sea around Northern Labrador.

It is crucial that we understand what's there and learn to adapt and learn to manage our oceans in light of that one threat, which is climate change. - Robert Rangeley

"[We] came up with some locations that are very important – very important, and culturally very important – for sort of nature and for the resources that they provide, but are really poorly understood," he said.

The marine biologist's team has some special gadgets to help learn about what lies below the surface of the sea. 

The drop camera being retrieved from the ocean after a successful dive documenting corals, sponges and fish species. (Oceana Canada/Evermaven)

"It's a big frame that goes down, and it's baited with squid, and we leave it in the water for a few hours and record with the cameras, what is attracted to that. So we get a better sense of what's in the biological community, the fish and the, you know, the corals and sponges and so on," said Rangeley.

Change on the horizon

That biological community is shifting and changing as the years pass, as Rangeley said climate change is transforming the oceans and experts are increasingly concerned about it. 

"And so it is crucial that we understand what's there and learn to adapt and learn to manage our oceans in light of that one threat, which is climate change," said Rangeley. 

Operating the vessel in Northern Labrador is no easy feat, but the team is committed to finishing the survey.

"We need to learn a lot more along this coastline to help for future management."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Labrador Morning

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