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Researching the Invasive

NWCC students collaborate with Smithsonian and DFO researchers on invasive species

October 29, 2015

Prince Rupert, BC – This month, scientists from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Centre in California and Maryland, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Nanaimo gathered on docks around Prince Rupert and Port Edward. These experts came north to work with the students of the Northwest Community College Applied Coastal Ecology (ACE) program and with Jason Scherr of the Prince Rupert Port authority. The goal of this collaboration is to monitor northern waters for marine invertebrates.

Preparation for the scientists’ visit began in the spring when NWCC students placed 50 thin, PVC panels, called settling plates, one metre below the water surface off floating docks from the Prince Rupert Industrial Park to Port Edward. Now the students and scientists are retrieving and examining the plates to identify and count each species, taking samples of all of the marine invertebrates present for subsequent examination and DNA analysis.

“This is a great opportunity for our students,” said Natasha Lebedick, NWCC ACE instructor. “It provides them with real experience on meaningful research projects.”

This project has two main goals. The first is to establish a baseline inventory of marine invertebrates for this area. This crucial step will enable scientists to monitor changes over time. Changes may result from ocean warming, acidification, pollution, invasive species or some other factor.

The second goal is to look for invasive species resulting from transportation in ship ballast water, or attachment to the hull of ships or ocean debris from disasters like the Fukoshima tsunami.

A number of non-native species that can harm the shellfish industry and naturally-occurring invertebrates have been found further south in the United States and southern, more populated areas of BC, but few have been identified in northern BC waters. Scientists are here to refine our methodologies and further equip NWCC to maintain this project

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Media contact for this story

Peter Freeman, UC/ACE Instructor and Program Developer

E-Mail: pfreeman.nwcc.bc.ca  | Telephone: 250.624.6054 ext. 5718

 

Media contact for Northwest Community College

Heather Kirk, Director, Communications and Public Relations

E-Mail: hkirk@nwcc.bc.ca  | Telephone: 250.638.5494

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