A Halifax-based network that tracks ocean health has received almost $39 million in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The money will help with tracking important aquatic species impacted by climate change.

The Ocean Tracking Network (OTN), based at Dalhousie University, is a global aquatic research, data management and partnership platform. In a statement, the group said collaborators are using its infrastructure and analytical tools to record the movements of more than 300 keystone and commercially and culturally valuable aquatic species in the context of changing ocean and freshwater environments.

“The amount that remains undiscovered about the ocean and the species that call it home is vast,” said Alice Aiken, Dalhousie’s vice president research and innovation in a statement. "As the impacts of climate change ripple through the waters that surround us, it is becoming increasingly urgent to address this knowledge gap."

OTN research includes monitoring the global movements and behaviour of sharks to protect beachgoers, using hydrophone-equipped gliders to detect the calls of critically endangered North Atlantic right (and other) whales and transmit the animals’ locations in near real-time to regulatory bodies and vessels in the region. The work helps reduce the risk of right whale ship collisions.   

“Over the next six years, the funding will allow OTN to expand the core operations and activities...including continuing to deliver on our world-class marine glider program, expanding subsea robotics activities, and supporting the integration of satellite-derived animal movements data into the OTN Data Centre,” said Sara Iverson, OTN’s scientific director.

The group has now raised a total of $65.6M in its 2017 to 2029 funding cycle..