North

Skyping with scientists: video technology aids salmon research in N.W.T.

Video streaming technology and social media platforms are turning out to be effective tools for scientists studying Arctic salmon.

'If you're not able to make it... you can provide fairly good instruction over social media,' says researcher

Video streaming technology and social media platforms are turning out to be effective tools for scientists studying Arctic salmon.

Darcy McNicholl, is a coastal fisheries biologist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

She's based in Winnipeg. But she's helping a research team study the different species of Pacific salmon that are migrating into the Western Arctic and monitoring the impact on fish species in the Mackenzie River and its tributaries.

Darcy McNicholl, a coastal fisheries biologist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, top right, instructs a northern researcher how to take salmon measurements over Skype. (submitted by Darcy McNicholl)

Last fall, she says she was unable to travel to Norman Wells, N.W.T., to teach local researchers how to collect data. So she thought she would try a live demonstration through Skype.

"[The researcher up north] would watch me measure the fish and go through the suite of different measurements and I would watch her… to make sure she was doing it properly," says McNicholl.

"In previous years you'd have to go up to the communities and be there physically. At least this way if you're not able to make it for whatever reason, you're delayed by weather, you can provide fairly good instruction over social media."

McNicholl says using live video streaming services saves time, money, and resources.

And with more people in remote communities having smartphones, she says scientists are "able to communicate with people on a broader range in recent years like we haven't before."

She says social media also makes it easier to get information out in a timely manner. People can track her research through the Facebook page Arctic Salmon.  

"Although we provide community results forums, we can also provide pictures for how lab work is going, we can provide updates with different results to communities in ways that are in real time that people can access right away which I find very useful," she says.

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