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Bedford Institute of Oceanography

Learn more about the Bedford Institute of Oceanography.


Located on the shores of the Bedford Basin in Dartmouth Nova Scotia, the Bedford Institute of Oceanography – also known as BIO – is Canada’s largest centre for multi-disciplinary ocean research.

At BIO, Fisheries and Oceans Canada science teams work collaboratively with partners to monitor and research changes and important issues facing our oceans.

Together they’re studying a large range of things - from the growth and movement of plankton which is critical in the aquatic food chain - to identifying important habitat and sensitive areas using seabed mapping, and the study of the species that live there – like deep water corals and sponges.

As a Benthic ecologist, I study the organisms which live on or in the sea floor.

So it’s really important to have an understanding not only of the sediment or sea bed structure that they are found on but also on the overlying water masses which may control their distribution.

Fisheries science work at BIO provides the foundation for science advice that fisheries managers require to make evidence based decisions about Canada’s important aquatic resources.

In BIO’s virology lab, scientists are studying fish viruses to safeguard the health of our aquatic animal resources, including species that Canadians depend on for food and their livelihoods.

With the help of traps like this one - set up all over the eastern coast - BIO scientists are tracking aquatic invasive species in efforts to control their spread in Canadian waters.

Scientists here are also conducting ongoing research and monitoring of marine mammals, turtles, and other species at risk that contributes to their conservation.

The pier at BIO provides a launching point for science teams heading into the field to collect samples and gather data on the seabed, ecosystems and habitats, fish populations, and physical ocean properties.

Scientists are using both traditional and cutting edge oceanographic technologies to monitor changes in our oceans - such as temperature, salinity, acidity, and oxygen - over time… These gliders are autonomous sampling tools that are being used to study the water column on an ongoing basis.

Once launched they travel the Scotian Shelf for a month at a time collecting data at a rate not possible before.

The glider program is a program that helps us to monitor the ocean to do sampling in the water column further offshore.

The long term monitoring program is very important to notice any changes in the water column that can affect biology and sea life.

BIO has a long history of innovation, and scientists have access to some of the most sophisticated tools to conduct their research and monitoring.

In the case where a tool doesn’t exist, the engineering and technical staff can make them.

If I want to make a specific kind of measurement in a hostile place like the arctic with limited resources, I can go down the hall to some of my colleagues who are brilliant designers and electronic technicians and engineers, and we can work together to come up with a solution that gets the science done….

It’s a fabulous place to work.

BIO also has a science team that works to protect the ocean from man-made problems like oil spills.

This wave tank is designed to study these effects.

The goal of their research is to better understand how oil might behave in a natural environment and identify best methods to respond to spills.

The work that’s being done by Fisheries and Oceans Canada Science staff and partners at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography is increasing our understanding of our oceans and marine and coastal resources, to ensure healthy, productive, and navigable waters for current and future generations.

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