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Monitoring invasive species using collectors

This video presents the steps needed to deploy and retrieve the collectors used by the Fisheries and Oceans Canada aquatic invasive species monitoring network in marine environments. It is intended for network participants who install collectors in marinas, harbours, or aquaculture sites, so they all follow the same standardized protocol.


Aquatic invasive species monitoring network

Deploying and retrieving collectors

Aquatic invasive species can cause important damages such as the degradation of the environment, of ports and aquaculture infrastructures, the collapse of some fisheries, the decline of aquaculture productivity and subsequent revenue losses.

The arrival of invasive species affects a large number of marine water users.

We need you all to fight aquatic invasive species, and more specifically to help us monitor the arrival of new one.

This is why we produced this video. It illustrates and complements the instructionsfor the use of collectors of invasive species, included in the first pages of the field logbook the Department has provided you with.

First, we want to thank you for joining our monitoring network and collecting data. It is important that as many partners as possible participate in this collective effort. The more participants there will be, the larger the portion of the salt waters of the St. Lawrence and Eastern Canada that can be covered. The larger the monitored area, the faster the arrival of a new species can be detected. And the more the actions we will take to solve the problem will be swift and efficient. Invasive species obviously… spread wherever they can.

What is an invasive species?
I work on aquatic invasive species. An aquatic invasive species is an animal, plant, or even a micro-organism that should not be found in our waters, meaning it comes from somewhere else, and can have huge ecological, economic, and even social consequences. I run the invasive species monitoring program in the Quebec Region. Every year, we go out in the field and set up what we call collectors in various harbours and marinas to try to detect new invasive species as soon as they arrive and to monitor the progression of the invasive species that are already here. It's really important to try to detect these species as soon as possible, because once they are here and well-established, it's almost impossible to get rid of them.

When it comes to aquatic invasive species, we all navigate in the same waters and need all hands on deck.

This video shows the various steps of the deployment and retrieval of the collectors so that all Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s partners use the same standardized method. This additional information reflects the ongoing discussions you have with the person responsible for the Department’s invasive species monitoring program. This person will be available to help and follow-up with you during the whole season.

To make your participation to the monitoring program easier, we suggest that you carefully plan the deployment and retrieval phases of the collectors.

First, select the sites where you will deploy your collectors, bearing in mind that they should ideally be separated by at least 10 meters, that they must not be a nuisance to navigation or to any other activity taking place on the site, and that they should not be easily seen to avoid drawing the attention of passersby.

Collectors must not touch the seabed and must ideally be located 1 meter below the surface. In the case of fixed docks, this will be 1 meter below the water level at low tide. If you don’t have a digital device to measure water depth, a brick, or any other heavy object, tied to a graduated rope with a mark at every meter will do.

In the springtime, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will send you a cooler, or a box, per site with the following material:

A field logbook, 10 plastic bags to store the collectors at the end of the monitoring period, 10 collectors, one of which with a temperature recorder attached to it, 2 water sampling bottles, 10 plastic tags identified to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and its contact persons, and enough tie wraps to secure them.

A collector consists of two components: a saucer on which three plastic discs are attached and a square PVC plate linked by a rope passing through both components. Each collector is identified by a number appearing on its saucer. A data recorder will be attached to one of the collectors to measure the water temperature during the whole monitoring period. Make sure that this recorder has a tag with the name of your site. If there is none, get in touch with the contact person at Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Make sure to bring sharp sturdy scissors and 10 objects, such as bricks, that can be used as weights for the collectors.

Of course, you will have to provide your own security equipment such as a flotation vest, security boots and a helmet depending on the site where you will work.

A camera, such as your smartphone’s, may also be useful.

Before heading for the site, be sure to contact the person in charge, the director of a marina or the harbour manager for example, to tell them when you will deploy the collectors.

Just before deploying the collectors, fill in the data sheet in your field logbook. Make sure that the site name, called station, appears in the first block of information, then fill in the site description box. Note the weather conditions in the appropriate box, the name of the sampler, that is the person who will proceed with the deployment - and the kind of structure on which the collectors will be attached : for example, a fixed dock, a floating dock, an aquaculture longline.

In the second block, write the latitude and longitude in decimal degrees, time and date of the deployment and the water depth at the site on the “deployment” line.

The collector numbers should already appear in the third block. The collector on which the temperature data recorder, called HOBO, is attached will also be identified. This block is also the place where you can write relevant comments such as when a collector is installed less than 1 meter from the surface.

On the blank page next to the data sheet, draw, or simply sketch, a map of the site on which you will indicate the location of all your collectors. 

Deployment of collectors
Tie the weights tightly to the bottom end of the collectors rope, about 30 centimeters below the PVC plate. Cut the extra length of rope so that it does not come into contact with the plate and make it more difficult for specimens to stick to that part of the collector.

It’s now time to deploy the collectors at the locations you have identified. Attach them tightly to the selected structure making sure the saucer is located at about 1 meter under the surface. A black mark on the rope indicates that 1 meter length. The bowline knot is the most appropriate to use because it is both strong and easy to untie when retrieving the collectors. Once the knot is tied, cut the extra length of rope so that it does not fall back on the saucer or float on the surface of the water and become a nuisance to navigation.

Attach a Fisheries and Oceans Canada identification tag on the rope holding each collector to the structure so it will be easily seen, especially if the collectors are located in an area accessible to the public.

It is imperative that the collectors do not touch the seabed even at low tide. Depending on the water depth, you may have to install them closer to the surface, that is less than 1 meter. If so, it will be important to carefully note the depth of the collector and its distance from the surface in your field logbook .

Take a water sample at your site with the bottle labelled Spring. The Department will use it to measure the water salinity. This water sample can be kept at room temperature until you send it back with the collectors at the end of the sampling period.

As soon as the 10 collectors are installed, note the location of each of them on your site map in your logbook. In the case of aquaculture sites, the longline numbers and GPS positions will be useful.

Pictures of the collectors locations, once they are installed as well as pictures of the site may be useful. They will make the retrieval operations easier.

Before leaving the site, make sure you have properly filled out the field logbook .

Repeat these operations for each site if you have more than one.

Retrieval of collectors
A few days before beginning the retrieval of the collectors, get in touch with your contact person at Fisheries and Oceans Canada to discuss the approximate dates of your visit to the site so that the return of your collectors can be planned. That person could have specific instructions for you. You will find this person’s coordinates in the first pages of your field logbook.

Use empty recyclable plastic bottles, such as 500 ml bottles, to freeze some water. This ice will keep the cooler cold to store the collectors immediately after retrieval and during shipping.

To retrieve the collectors you will need your field logbook, the plastic bags to put each of your collectors, sharp sturdy scissors, the water sampling bottle labelled Autumn, the cooler and the ice bottles you will have previously prepared. Don’t forget to bring the suitable security equipment.

Once on site, locate the collectors using your map. As you retrieve the collectors, fill out the data sheet in your field logbook. In the first block of information, write the weather conditions under “retrieval”. Write the date and time on the appropriate line of the second block. The third block is still available to write comments you consider relevant, such as a lost collector.

Once on site, untie and pull out each of your collectors. Doing so, be careful not to let any specimens fall off. After having pulled out the collectors, cut the bottom end of the rope well below the PVC plate to recover the weight that you will need to keep for the next sampling season. Then cut the top end of the rope at least 30 centimetres above the saucer.

Delicately put each collector in a plastic bag taking great care to include the saucer and the PVC plate. When you cut the extra length of rope above the saucer, make sure the data recorder, is still on the collector’s rope to which it was attached and make sure the recorder stays in place, when you place the collector in the bag.

Take a water sample at your sampling site using the bottle labelled Autumn.

As soon as a collector is retrieved and placed in a bag, put the collectors in the cooler with the water sample bottles and the bottles of ice to keep them cool.

Repeat these operations for each site you visit, if you have more than one.

Before shipping your collectors to the Department, make sure to place the logbook, the 10 collectors and the Spring and Fall water samples from each of your monitoring site in different coolers so that there will be one cooler per site .

Once you have completed these operations, simply contact Fisheries and Oceans Canada to make shipping arrangements, either by bus, plane or ship. You will find the number to call in the instructions for the use of invasive species collectors included in the first pages of your field logbook.

A team of scientific experts from Fisheries and Oceans Canada will analyze the content of the hundreds of collectors that will be shipped.

Results will be shared on the St. Lawrence Global Observatory website. You will be notified when they will be available.

Thanks to our partnership and your cooperation, we will detect invasive species more quickly.

We thank you once again for having taken the time to contribute to our data collection which will be useful to all.

If you have any questions about Aquatic Invasive Species, please contact us:

Fisheries and Oceans Canada would like to thank the Conseil des Innus de Ekuanitshit, the Corporation des pilotes du Bas-Saint-Laurent and the Club nautique les Plaisanciers du Havre for their collaboration.

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