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OUR TEAM

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DR. SARAH FORTUNE

Assistant Professor, Canadian Wildlife Federation
Chair in Large Whale Conservation

Sarah is a marine ecologist primarily interested in studying whale movement, habitat-use, diet, feeding ecology and bioenergetics. She integrates oceanography, animal behaviour and physiology into her research combining empirical, remotely sensed and modelled data. Understanding how large whales are likely to contend with climate-induced shifts in prey quality and quantity is a central focus of her research. She enjoys incorporating new technology to better understand complex predator-prey relationships in Arctic and temperate environments.



 

TAMARA WILSON

Lab manager

Tamara is a marine biologist with expertise in marine management and technology. She manages WEC grants, procurement and finances. Her technical and project management expertise keeps our team on-track and our research running smoothly.

DR. LEAH TRIGG

Postdoc

Leah is an acoustics and movement ecology expert. As a MITACS postdoctoral fellow through WWF Canada, Leah is studying the behavioural impacts of human generated noise on marine mammals. Currently, she's conducting a controlled sound exposure experiment to determine how vessel and military sonar affect the feeding behaviour of sperm and northern bottlenose whales while they depredate on commercial fishing gear in the Canadian Arctic.

MANON DEN HAAN

PhD Student

Manon enjoys the interface between biology and physics and is investigating the feeding behaviour of bowhead whales in Cumberland Sound, NU using high-resolution inertial sensing tags (CATs). Climate change is having a profound impact on polar ecosystems, by driving a shift in species composition, abundance and distribution. The foraging success, movement and habitat-use of bowheads is likely to be influenced by reduced prey quality, variability in prey abundance and increased energy expenditure associated with more time spent searching for and consuming lower quality prey.

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DEVIN FRALEIGH

PhD Student

Devin is interested in how animals react to changes in their environment and how this knowledge can be used to inform conservation and management. His PhD research will focus on utilizing biologging tags to study the behavioral response of St Lawrence Estuary beluga to shipping traffic and noise. He is co-supervised by Dr Veronique Lesage at Fisheries & Oceans Canada. 

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JAY KIRKHAM

PhD Student

Jay is intrigued by in predator-prey dynamics and the role environmental variability plays in feeding success. He's investigating the foraging behaviour of North Atlantic Right Whales in the Gulf of St Lawrence (Canada), using a range of methods including acoustic zooplankton profiling and camera-enabled animal-borne biologging tags. This work will feed into spatial risk overlap with bottom-set fishing gear and help build knowledge on the fine-scale movements of the whales in relation to prey distribution.

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ALEXIS BAZINET

MSc Student

Alexis is interested in the role oceanographic processes play in large whale feeding success and ultimately their body condition. She is using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, to quantify the body condition and health of Eastern Canada-West Greenland bowhead whales in the Canadian Arctic. Co-supervised by Dr. Steve Ferguson (DFO), Alexis is analyzing a multi-year dataset of UAV imagery to evaluate how bowhead morphometrics is changing overtime. She will also obtain in-situ biological oceanographic sampling (e.g., zooplankton net tows and microscopy, CTD casts) to evaluate corresponding habitat conditions.

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KIM FRANKLIN

MSc Student

Kim is interested in passive acoustics, acoustical oceanography and conservation. For her MSc research, Kim is studying the impacts of military sonar and vessel noise on Arctic whales’ calling behaviour. Kim's research integrates sound recordings made from animal-borne data loggers (Dtags), moored passive acoustic recorders (Soundtrap) and gliders. She's co-supervised by Dr. David Barclay (Oceanography Department at Dalhousie University) and Dr. William Halliday (Wildlife Conservation Society Canada).

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RHYL FRITH

MSc Student

Rhyl is interested in marine animal behavioural responses to climate-induced ecosystem changes. Her MSc research will evaluate the success of North Atlantic right whale dispersal to higher latitude summertime foraging grounds. She will use data from 3D inertial sensing tags in addition to zooplankton net tows, UVP, and OPC  casts to improve a bioenergetic model for right whales and compare present estimates of energetic inputs and outputs for whales feeding in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to historical predictions for the Bay of Fundy during the same time of year. 

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CAITLIN HUARD

MSc Student

Caitlin's research interests are primarily motivated by the effects of climate change on large predators in the ocean. Her project is focused on the prey field ecology of bowhead whales in Cumberland Sound, NU with the aim of quantifying zooplankton energy quality using bomb calorimetry, microscopy, and an underwater vision profiler (UVP). Linking this information with modelled bowhead whale bioenergetics will give insight into their foraging success presently and as oceanographic conditions change into the future.

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MAYA CHOUINARD

Honours student

Maya is interested in the effects of anthropogenic noise on cetaceans and is being co-supervised by Dr. Leah Trigg and Dr. Trevor Avery (Acadia University). She is using acoustic data from an ocean glider to examine the spatio-temporal patterns in sperm whale vocalizations in Baffin Bay.

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TASHA PARTRIDGE

Northern research assistant

Tasha is a recent Grade 12 graduate at Attagoyuk Illisavik in Pangnirtung, Nunavut. She is a resident of Pangnirtung, and loves the scenery, land and the people. She has always been passionate about Science and Mathematics, and wants to pursue a job in the STEM field. Tasha participated in the Verna J. Kirkness Foundation Program this spring where she travelled to Ottawa to learn about engineering fields. Tasha is looking forward to this summer job opportunity to learn and gain more experience in marine science, specifically relating to bowhead whale foraging ecology. She is looking forward to meeting new people, gaining new field and analysis skills and working with them. 

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