Nfld. & Labrador

Researchers try to unravel mysteries of Smith Sound, Trinity Bay

A team of Memorial University researchers spent much of this past summer on the waters of Smith Sound, trying to unravel the mysteries of this unique body of water in Trinity Bay.
Smith Sound in Trinity Bay has long been noted for its healthy cod population. (CBC archive)

A team of Memorial University researchers spent much of this past summer on the waters of Smith Sound, trying to unravel the mysteries of this unique body of water in Trinity Bay.

The water is very deep and the sound is home to a cod stock that continued to thrive after the northern cod stock collapse more than two decades ago.

I'm hoping that we're going to find some evidence of Newfoundland shipbuilding we didn't know about before.- Dan Walker

It's also been the site of unusual shipwrecks.

Project leader Dan Walker said the team, consisting of marine biologists, oceanographers and technical specialists, used an underwater research vehicle to map the ocean floor, study the habitat and look for archeological sites.

"We may have found some potential shipwrecks. We certainly found a variability in the sea floor that might have some impact on the reason why Smith Sound was such a great cod habitat," said Walker.

Project in early stages

Walker said team members are in the early stages of studying their data, so they can't draw conclusions yet.

But he said the team plans to be back in the sound next summer with more equipment to continue the research.

"It is just a fascinating place to do an underwater survey," said Walker. "We found a number of things that were quite interesting."

Walker said he was drawn to Smith Sound after discovering archival data that reference an August 1879 hail storm that sunk several vessels.

"I have a side passion for the history of naval architecture, and I'm hoping that we're going to find some evidence of Newfoundland shipbuilding we didn't know about before," he said. 

"There's all kinds of questions we're trying to answer in all kinds of disciplines."

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