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The Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre is being expanded to accommodate three new skeletons!
FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION
Tadoussac, June 27, 2019 / The Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM) welcomes the Government of Canada’s contribution – through Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions and Canadian Heritage – for the upgrading of its Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre in Tadoussac. The grants being offered by the Government of Canada total $730,710. Tourisme Côte-Nord is also earmarking $50,000 to participate in the funding.
“Since 1991, we have been filling our Interpretation Centre with scientific knowledge that we acquired in the field and skeletons of whales recovered from our shores. Gradually, the Centre became home to these giants. But it’s getting a little crowded in there, so we must expand to make room for new giants!” explains Patrice Corbeil, GREMM’s Vice-President and Director of the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre.
In this context, the Centre will see its showroom enlarged to accommodate three enormous skeletons: a juvenile humpback whale, a fin whale and a North Atlantic right whale. These three whales came to rest on the shores of the St. Lawrence and were recovered by our team. The three species complete the collection of skeletons on display, which is the most impressive of its kind in Canada. It is a reflection of the diversity of cetaceans that visit the St. Lawrence.
In parallel with the expansion, the permanent exhibit will also be enhanced. “The renewed exhibit comes at a good time. We face tremendous challenges in terms of our cohabitation with whales, especially with the increase in shipping traffic. Our Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre reveals how fascinating whales are and the importance of protecting them,” adds GREMM’s President and Scientific Director, Robert Michaud.
To complete the funding for this major project, GREMM needs to secure a further $200,000. “Help us get these skeletons out of the closet!” exclaims Patrice Corbeil. “For a donation of $1,000, we will post the names of the contributors or a short message on a plaque installed on the life-size blue whale outline on the path leading to the Interpretation Centre. Other funding tools will be announced in the near future.
We would like to thank all our volunteers and collaborators who participated in carcass recovery, necropsies and skeleton cleaning. Our sincere gratitude also goes out to the 5 Étoiles farm in Sacré-Coeur for accommodating the skeletons in anticipation of their assembly before the expansion.
- Tadoussac’s Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre is managed by the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals.
- The Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre was officially inaugurated in 1991.
- Inauguration of the revamped Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre is scheduled for 2020, which coincides with GREMM’s 35th
To discover the stories of each of the three new skeletons due to join the collection: https://gremm.org/docs/The_Souffleur_2018.pdf
For photos of the skeletons, the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre or the press conference:http://bit.ly/cimmtadoussac
Marie-Ève Muller, head of communications, Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM), 418 235-4701 (office) or 418-717-6061 (mobile), firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Job Opportunity: Director of Intervention Program
DESCRIPTION OF ORGANIZATION
The Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network (QMMERN) is an umbrella group of organizations and institutions that work with marine mammals. The Network is responsible for organizing, coordinating and implementing measures aimed at reducing accidental mortality of marine mammals, rescuing animals in difficulty, and facilitating the acquisition of data from animals that have died in St. Lawrence waters.
The Network receives over 500 calls and handles approximately 300 cases a year. It documents and monitors cases, evaluates whether or not a response is warranted, responds as needed, or provides assistance to specialized response teams. QMMERN revolves around a group of more than 150 volunteers to assist in various types of interventions. The Network contributes to a number of research projects, in addition to helping manage a national data bank.
Coordinating the QMMERN and managing its call centre and new intervention program is the responsibility of the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM), a non-profit organization dedicated to scientific research and conservation education with a focus on the whales of the St. Lawrence and their habitat.
Beginning in 2019, the Network will launch an intervention program with mobile response units to cover all of southern Quebec. The selected candidate will be called upon to develop and implement this program, create intervention protocols and consolidate the network of partners and volunteers who can support response efforts. He or she will be responsible for training and coordinating teams and will participate in interventions.
The future Director will be required to complete a number of trainings and workshops with various partners of the Network in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada in the first two years of his or her mandate.
Under the supervision of the scientific coordinator and in close collaboration with other team members, the individual should be capable of assuming many of the responsibilities outlined below. However, the position will be tailored according to the applicant’s strengths and complementarity with other members of the team.
- Develop and update procedures, protocols and response kits;
- Develop the volunteer network and its training program;
- Establish new partnerships.
- Evaluate cases and determine appropriate interventions;
- Supervise interventions performed by mobile response teams, volunteers and support teams;
- Lend assistance to specialized response teams;
- Participate in handling calls and emergency standby duty;
- Prepare weekly debriefing meetings with call centre administrator.
Management and Communication
- Manage human resources associated with response teams (hiring, training, scheduling and meetings);
- Assist coordinator in certain management/administrative tasks;
- Assist coordinator of Canadian Marine Animal Response Alliance and various entities of Fisheries and Oceans Canada;
- Support call centre administrator and head of communications in the production of various communication tools.
REQUIREMENTS OF POSITION
- University degree in a relevant field (biology, veterinary medicine);
- At least 3 years of experience in coordination, project management or similar position involving multidisciplinary teams;
- Experience in crisis management and ability to work in the midst of an emergency.
- Excellent field work skills and physical ability to perform demanding work at sea and on land;
- Team player with strong interpersonal skills;
- Fluent in French and English (written and spoken);
- Excellent analytical and problem-solving capacity;
- Sense of organization and planning;
- Ability to work under pressure;
- Versatile, resourceful and autonomous.
Availability and Motivation
- Highly flexible with regard to work schedule depending on the case(s) being handled;
- Willingness to be on call evenings, weekends and holidays;
- Motivated to fill position for at least two years.
- Database management skills, knowledge of marine mammals, the marine environment, fisheries and eastern Quebec;
- Experience working at sea and operating watercraft;
- Knowledge of not-for-profit sector.
WORKING CONDITIONS, SALARY AND BENEFITS
- Full-time position;
- Annual salary: $45,000 to $55,000;
- Duration of position: preferably long term, with a six-month probation period;
- Possibility of working either out of Québec City or Tadoussac, with occasional travel;
- Mobile phone with plan provided;
- Scheduled start date: as soon as possible, no later than May 1.
Other benefits: friendly working atmosphere in an exciting sector offering the opportunity to work alongside researchers (marine mammals and related fields) and environmental education specialists with years of experience in stimulating projects, office at the Centre Culture et Environnement Frédéric-Back (Québec City) and a stone’s throw away from the Saguenay Fjord (Tadoussac), seasonal social activities, possibility of accompanying research teams at sea.
Interested in this job offer? Email your CV and cover letter to email@example.com.
Deadline: April 5, 2019
We thank all applicants for their interest; only selected applicants will be contacted.
Master’s Degree Project on the Effects of Environmental Contaminants on Thyroid Functions of the St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga
The St. Lawrence Estuary beluga population is considered as endangered since 2014. This small population of about 900 individuals lives in a marine ecosystem that is strongly impacted by anthropogenic activities upstream. As a result, chronic exposure to environmental contaminants has been suggested as a factor that may affect the health of belugas in the St.Lawrence Estuary and the recovery of this population. In addition, exposure to contaminants that may interfere with thyroid functions such as flame retardants (e.g., PBDEs) has been suggested as a potential cause for the unusually high number of deaths of parturient female belugas and their calves. However, the effects of contaminants on belugas in the St. Lawrence estuary are still unknown. The objective of this project is to study the effects of certain contaminants on genomic markers (gene expression) and hormones involved in the regulation of the thyroid axis in belugas. This project is a collaboration between UQAM (principal supervisor: Jonathan Verreault), Université de Montréal (Stéphane Lair) and Environment and Climate Change Canada (Magali Houde).
Master level funding for a period of two years.
Field and laboratory work.
Starting in May or September 2019
• Meet the basic admission requirements for the UQAM’s Master’s in Biology program;
• B.Sc. in Biochemistry, Biology or a related discipline. Knowledge in ecotoxicology and environmental chemistry is an asset;
• Very good command of spoken and written English and French.
To apply, send your CV and transcript (B.Sc.) before March 1st, 2019 to:
Département des sciences biologiques
Université du Québec à Montréal
Phone: 514‐987‐3000, ex. 1070
Master project: Temporal Trend of Emerging Environmental Contaminants in the Endangered St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga
The St. Lawrence Estuary (SLE) beluga has been listed as an endangered species since 2014 by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). This small population of around 900 individuals inhabits a marine ecosystem significantly impacted by upstream anthropogenic activities. Therefore, chronic exposure to anthropogenic contaminants has been suggested as one factor affecting the health of SLE beluga and the recovery of this population. However, the occurrence and fate of many emerging contaminants in SLE beluga are unknown. The objectives of this project are to investigate the occurrence and temporal trend of industrial additives such as synthetic phenolic compounds, ultraviolet absorbents and aromatic secondary amines in SLE beluga tissues. This is a collaborative project with Université du Québec à Montréal (co‐supervisor: Jonathan Verreault), University of Montreal, University of Toronto, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and GREMM.
MSc‐level funding provided for two years.
Project should start in May or September 2019
• Satisfy the basic requirements for admission in the MSc program of oceanography at UQAR;
• BSc degree in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biology, Oceanography, or a related discipline;
• Knowledge in analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry or ecotoxicology is an asset;
• Proficiency in French. Proof of French proficiency will be required for non‐Frenchspeaking candidates (e.g., international French test score > 650);
• Good communication skill in English is an asset.
To apply, send your CV and BSc transcript before February 18, 2019 to:
Institut des Sciences de la Mer de Rimouski
Université du Québec à Rimouski
Phone: 418‐723‐1986, ext. 1174
PHD Scholarship Opportunity
For a PhD project on habitat selection, movement, and fission-fusion dynamics of the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga population
The St. Lawrence Estuary beluga population is currently listed as Endangered under the Canadian Species At Risk Act and the Loi sur les espèces menacées et vulnérables du Québec. Several threats to its recovery related to the navigation activities occurring in the population’s summer habitat are identified such as exposure to underwater noise and disturbance. Mitigating navigation impacts requires a good understanding of the factors underlying the behaviours of habitat selection along with the movements of this species in the St. Lawrence Estuary and the Saguenay (i.e. summer habitat). However, this understanding is currently incomplete because: i) few studies have tried to identify the mechanisms underlying the spatial distribution and movements of the belugas in the summer habitat, and ii) the rare studies did not consider beluga’s social behaviour or group fusion-fission dynamics.
This PhD project aims at identifying the factors (biotic and abiotic) explaining the spatial distribution and the movements of beluga groups in their summer habitat, acknowledging that habitat selection behaviours and movements might be influenced by the social and gregarious behaviour of this species. The project will also look into the group fusion-fission dynamics in the beluga’s summer habitat by exploring the conditions (e.g. habitat characteristics, time of day, group size and composition) under which pairs of known individuals are encountered in the same groups or not. This will allow to interpret the spatio-temporal variation in group size and composition and ultimately contribute to explain the spatial distribution of this species in its summer habitat. This project will provide valuable knowledge to improve our understanding of navigation impacts on the St. Lawrence beluga’s habitat selection and movements in its summer habitat. These results will be integrated in a model that simulates the movements of individual belugasvia a collaboration with modellers.
This project will be carried out using existing datasets and might also require additional fieldwork to collect new observational data. The selected candidate will be part of the Natural Science Department and will be based in Ripon (QC) at Institut des Sciences de la Forêt tempérée (ISFORT: http://isfort.uqo.ca/). She/He will work with researchers from the GREMM (Tadoussac) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (Mont-Joli).
The desired candidate will show dynamism, motivation, intellectual curiosity and creativity, ability to work independently and as part of a team, along with a great sense of initiative. She/He will be encouraged and supported to travel for scientific communications (conferences, workshops), meetings with partners and stakeholders. The project funding is provided by the Government of Quebec. The selected candidate will contribute to the production of deliverables for the Ministry for Forests, Wildlife, and Parks and Ministry for Maritime Affairs on a yearly basis.
The candidate must hold a Master’s degree in biological sciences, or related field.
The following expertise and skills will be considered as assets:
– expertise on animal behaviour related to habitat selection and movements;
– expertise on social behaviour and fusion-fission dynamics in gregarious species;
– expertise on marine mammals;
– great expertise in data management and analysis with R software.
Project start: September 2019
Treatment: 20 000$/year for 3 years
Director: Angélique Dupuch (UQO-ISFORT)
Co-director : Véronique Lesage (DFO)
Collaborators: Clément Chion (UQO-ISFORT), Robert Michaud (GREMM), and Tyler Bonnell (Lethbridge University)
Application: Email your academic CV (long form), all academic records for bachelor’s and master’s degrees, an application letter (detailing your skills and assets related to the project requirements), and the name and contact information of 3 academic references to: angelique.dupuch @ uqo.ca, clement.chion @ uqo.ca, rmichaud @ gremm.org, veronique.lesage @ dfo-mpo.gc.ca, and tyler.bonnell @ uleth.ca.
Applications will be considered until the position is filled.
Thanks for the 2018 season!
The snow falls gently on Tadoussac. That’s it, it’s time to conclude our 2018 summer season.
Our Centre of Interpretation on Marine Mammals in Tadoussac closed for the winter on November 2. Once again this year, we welcomed more than 30,000 visitors who were able to dive into the fascinating world of marine mammals. A success!
The research boats, the BpJAM and the Bleuvet, have also been taken out of the water in the past few weeks, and the temporary tower at Baie Sainte-Marguerite has been dismantled. During the winter, we will start analyzing the thousands of data collected. How many individuals will enter the photo-identification catalogues? What new pages will we add to the individual whale stories?
On our virtual magazine Whales Online.org, follow the progress of our work, discover what other teams are doing and let yourself be inspired by whale stories.
Thank you to everyone who came to visit us! Thank you also to the naturalists, store attendants, receptionists, maintenance team, trainees, research assistants and volunteers for your involvement!
Postdoctoral fellowship offer – Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO) in collaboration with GREMM
Spatiotemporal Individual-Based Modelling of the St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga Population
Project background and objectives
St. Lawrence Estuary beluga population is currently listed as endangered under the Species at Risk Act of Canada. It is also listed as threatened under the Quebec Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species. Several threats related to navigation activities in the beluga’s critical habitat limit its recovery, including disturbance and exposure to boats’ underwater noise. Mitigating such navigation impacts requires tools to evaluate the performance of potential measures before taking action. The postdoc fellow’s project is part of a broader research program that aims at building a multiagent simulator of boat and whale movements in both the Saguenay and St. Lawrence Rivers to assess the effectiveness of potential mitigation options. The broader goal of the research program is to support a collaborative process to enhance the protection of the at-risk St. Lawrence Estuary beluga population in its critical summer habitat.
The postdoc fellow’s project aims at building calibrated algorithms that accurately simulate belugas’ individual movements by reproducing data-extracted statistical patterns. Several concurrent hypotheses currently exist regarding beluga movements, social dynamics, and responses to the presence of boats in their critical habitat. These hypotheses will be made explicit by the selected candidate. The related uncertainties will be translated into the proposition of concurrent movement algorithms. Statistical patterns will need to be identified at different scales (individual, group and population) and extracted from several datasets provided by collaborators. These patterns will allow to calibrate the movements algorithms and assess their performance using the Pattern-Oriented Modelling approach. Based on a literature review, the selected candidate will propose a series of beluga-specific indicators of navigation impacts (e.g. masking/communication space, disturbance, collision risks). These indicators will be used to assess the performance of mitigation scenarios using the final simulator that will couple a valid beluga IBM with an existing model of boat movements. The development of beluga’s movement algorithms will be based on behavioral ecology theories and developed in collaboration with researchers who have been studying belugas since the early 80’s. Although this modelling project does not require any data collection in the field, the selected candidate will work in close collaboration with researchers from Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM), Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park, and will have the opportunity to take part in their field campaign.
The desired candidate will show dynamism, motivation, intellectual curiosity and creativity, ability to work independently and as part of a team, along with a great sense of initiative. He/She will be encouraged and supported to travel for scientific communications (conferences, workshops), meetings with partners and stakeholders. The project funding is provided by the Government of Quebec. The selected candidate will be required to participate in the production of deliverables for the Ministry for Forests, Wildlife, and Parks and Ministry for Maritime Affairs on a yearly basis.
• PhD in Natural Sciences, Engineering, or any discipline relevant for the project
• Proficiency in individual-based modelling
• Java programming or proficiency in another object-oriented programming language
• Preparing scholarship and grant applications
• Proficiency in scientific communication (written and oral) to experts and laypeople, including writing scientific articles and conducting literature reviews
• Knowledge in behavioural ecology especially social mammals
• Knowledge in underwater acoustics and/or bioacoustics
• Knowledge in GIS, Spatial analysis and spatial statistics
• Other technical skills: R, Python, QGIS and Repast Simphony
• 47k$/year (including UQO’s social benefits)
• From now to March 31st 2020 (with possibility of extension)
• Preferably Ripon or Gatineau (Québec, Canada)
Email your academic CV (long form), application letter (detailing your skills and assets related to the project requirements), and the name and contact information of 3 academic references to:
o Pr. Clément Chion (firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com)
o Pr. Angélique Dupuch (firstname.lastname@example.org)
• Deadline: September 30th 2018, or until the position is filled.
NEPISIGUIT BELUGA SEEN AGAIN ALIVE!
Great news! The beluga that was trapped in the Nepisiguit River in New Brunswick and relocated to the St. Lawrence Estuary on June 15, 2017, has been resighted! During this unprecedented operation, the animal was captured and flown to Rivière-du-Loup before being subsequently released into the waters of the St. Lawrence near Cacouna. The St. Lawrence beluga population is endangered. The operation aimed to determine the feasibility and challenges of such a relocation operation, as well as to assess the chances of success for a solitary young beluga to reintegrate a social group over the long term and contribute to the recovery of the population.
“According to the images that have been transmitted to us, the Nepisiguit beluga appears to be in good health. He appears vigorous and is swimming well,” confirms veterinarian specialist Dr. Stéphane Lair of the Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.
The team was surprised, however, that the animal was resighted far from its release site in the summer range of the St. Lawrence beluga. On July 14, the rescued beluga was identified in Ingonish, off Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, by Catherine Kinsman of the Whale Stewardship Project: ” I was called to give atalk in the community about two vagrant belugas. While watching videos of them, I kept looking at the gray beluga’s skin and a scar pattern I was sure I’d seen before. Then photos of the Nepisiguit beluga matched! I was so excited to identify him.”He is in the company of another unidentified male beluga.
“We suspected that the animal survived and we can now confirm this. This raises some questions, however, about whether this animal will ever contribute to the recovery of the St. Lawrence beluga”says Véronique Lesage, Research Scientist and beluga specialist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Authorities and researchers are concerned about the welfare of these isolated belugas given the degree of interaction they have with humans. “We often get vagrant animals such as these in areas outside the St. Lawrence Estuary and they can become a source of fascination for the public,” says Tonya Wimmer, Executive Director of the Marine Animal Response Society (MARS). “It is important that people maintain a safe distance, which the new federal marine mammal regulations dictate must be at least 100 m.” The two belugas off Ingonish are being closely monitored by Fisheries and Oceans Canada fishery officers.
The adventure of the Nepisiguit beluga is therefore not over. “We had to wait a long time to hear from the Nepisiguit beluga and we would have preferred that he stay with other belugas in the St. Lawrence Estuary. We will try to gather more information on this vagrant individual to understand why the animal has moved away from the St. Lawrence Estuary, and whether or not it will eventually return to this location,” says Robert Michaud, Scientific Director of the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM) and coordinator of the relocation operation.
The public is reminded that it is illegal to approach within 100 m of these animals and to attempt to feed them or swim or otherwise interact with them. “The best chance for these animals to return to their fellow belugas is if we minimize our interactions with them,” adds Michaud.
Recap of 2017 Events
On June 2, 2017, the Marine Animal Response Society (MARS) received a report of a beluga swimming up the Nepisiguit River near Bathurst, New Brunswick. The whale was not inclined to leave the river and its health was failing. Since the St. Lawrence beluga population is classified as “endangered” and has been declining considerably since the early 2000s, the survival of a single individual could have an influence on the population’s recovery. Based on consultations between MARS, GREMM, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and veterinarians from the Université de Montréal, the Vancouver Aquarium and the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, it was decided that the animal should be captured and relocated back to the St. Lawrence Estuary to determine whether it is possible to reintegrate a vagrant beluga with its natal population.
On June 15, the beluga was captured in the river and transported to the Bathurst airport, from where it was flown to Rivière-du-Loup (during which time it was rehydrated) and taken to the port of Gros-Cacouna, where it was placed on a small vessel and released into the water near a group of belugas in the St. Lawrence Estuary. A tag attached to the animal’s back transmitted satellite positions for 19 days following its release. The last time a signal was received from the Nepisiguit River beluga was on July 4.
Images and footage (please include credits written in the files name when you use a picture)
Tonya Wimmer, Executive Director, Marine Animal Response Society (MARS), 1-866-567-6277
Marie-Ève Muller, Communication Officer, Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM), 418-235-4701 (office) 418-717-6061 (cellphone), email@example.com.
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The 2018 summer season is launched!
That’s it! The Bleuvet and Gremmlin, GREMM’s research boats, are now ready to go. The Marine Mammal Emergency Call Centre team is in place to receive case reports. At the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre (CIMM), the naturalists, the reception team and the boutique team opened the doors of the museum in mid-May and the new ones will complete their training in the coming days. For Whales Online, new fingers are typing on keyboards and filming behind the camera to relay news about marine mammals.
Will you be joining us this summer? Come and see us in Tadoussac!
in the media
Call of the Baby Beluga
07/07/2018A baby beluga whale washes up on a beach, one of the 900 endangered belugas in Canada's St. Lawrence River. This is the story of a group of scientists who use knowledge and compassion to try to save the endangered baby and her family.More
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