Harbour seal monitoring in the saint john harbour

The population of Harbour Seals, Phoca vitulina, in Atlantic Canada is currently listed as unknown and little is known about the behaviour, food habitats and distributions in the area. We have begun collecting population data on Harbour Seals in the Saint John Harbour and its nearshore and estuarine environments. Bi-monthly surveys will be conducted at low tide and harbour seals that haul out on rocks will be counted. This data collected will be used to determine the population numbers of harbour seals in the harbour and to establish their distribution patterns throughout our area.

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If you happen to see seals in the Saint John Harbour or along the St. John River let us know by filling out the form below.


Saint John Harbour Environmental Monitoring

ACAP Saint John has historically sampled water quality all over Saint John, and fish communities in Marsh Creek and Courtenay Bay. In 2018 this work has expanded into a wide monitoring program running from 2018 until 2021. It will involve monitoring water quality at 28 nearshore sites, sediment contaminants at 15 sites, and a community monitoring program (for fish and crustaceans) at 11 sites, all between Red Head and Lorneville.

Fishing was done first in October 2018 and will be conducted monthly from May - October 2019 - 2021. We fish using two separate methods at each site, including fyke nets and seine nets. In October of 2018 we collected over 3000 individual animals in our seine net among these sites, the most abundant species being Atlantic Silverside. In the fyke nets we caught 245 individuals, with the most abundant species being Atlantic Tomcod. This new community monitoring program in the Harbour will create a baseline for all of these sites, and lend important information to any researchers or developers planning on doing work in these areas in future years.

Water quality will be measured bi-weekly until 2021 from the months of May to October. The parameters being measured include temperature, salinity, pH, turbidity, fecal coliform, phosphates, and ammonia. The contaminant sampling is three times yearly and we will measure polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in sediments. PAHs, contaminants that are highly linked to burning fossil fuels, can be harmful to the quality of aquatic life beyond certain concentrations. Monitoring the levels of these endpoints in water and sediments will, again, help us develop an appropriate baseline to refer to for future developments or research projects in the Saint John region.

Click here to read about the findings of previous research and monitoring conducted in the Saint John Harbour from 2011 - 2016 (UNB/Saint John Harbour Environmental Monitoring Partnership).


Microplastics in the Saint John Harbour

A recently growing global concern for marine wildlife is surrounding small plastics (microplastics, which are less than 5 mm in size) that enter the ocean from human sources. They can come from runoff, our clothing, microbeads in hygiene products, fishing equipment, beach littering, etc. These microplastics are often confused with food and are ingested by animals which can lead to detrimental health issues or death of marine life caused by blockages or toxic contaminants leeching off the plastics. There is little to no information on microplastics in water coming through the Saint John Harbour. With funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada- Atlantic Ecosystems Initiative and partnering with COINAtlantic, we will be trawling for microplastics in surface water at sites in the inner and outer Saint John Harbour. This important project will give insight into the issue plastic pollution is in this region and open doors for further research into this emerging field.