Sarah de Mendonça, MSc Student, Dalhousie University
2018 Laurentian Channel Research Cruise Feature

Sarah de Mendonça’s research includes the main objective of gaining a better understanding of deep-sea ecosystems through a spatial analysis of the animals that live on the seafloor. She is interested in how this knowledge can be applied to future monitoring of Marine Protected Areas.

Sarah is looking forward to the adventure into the unknown to gather more data, or pieces of the puzzle, to help answer her research questions. Although Sarah also participated in the 2017 Laurentian Channel Research Cruise, she is very excited to be participating again this year as the Laurentian Channel Area of Interest is a large area and there is a lot to discover! Read the Q&A with Sarah to learn more about her research.


Q1) What can you tell us about your research objectives and role for the research cruise?
A1) A major objective is to enjoy this amazing 12 day adventure at-sea. Some of these areas have never been seen on camera before, so it is pretty cool to think that we will be some of the first people to examine parts this environment though imagery. Last year we explored some sites with a Remotely Operated Vehicle, and this year we will use a different technology, the DFO drop-camera Campod. This is a great opportunity to examine which tools are most suitable for helping us investigate different ecological patterns.
My role on this cruise will include working with the Campod team to collect seafloor imagery.

Q2) Why is your research important/making a difference?
A2) Canada has emphasized the need to protect our oceans and marine resources for future generations. This has contributed to increased interest for the expansion of Marine Protected Areas throughout Canadian waters, in order to try and meet national and international conservation targets. To ensure effective protection though these types of conservation areas, we need to monitor the changes and recovery rates of these ecosystems over time. This is why we are currently working to develop the best plan of action to efficiently and effectively monitor these vast marine ecosystems.
My research will try to address the knowledge gap around deep-sea animal distribution and spatial patterns, as well as make recommendations for monitoring of deep-sea ecosystems.

Q3) How is your research related to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) marine conservation planning?
A3) The Laurentian Channel is an Area of Interest and therefore potentially on track to become one of Canada’s next Marine Protected Areas. This is why Dalhousie University, Memorial University, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada have prioritized research in this area, which is reflected throughout several other CHONe projects as well as mine.
My goal is to ensure that my research is relevant to the DFO conservation objectives – to help develop a monitoring framework for this area and other similar deep-sea areas. There is a limited understanding of the deep-sea because it is difficult and expensive to access and research. This collaboration will hopefully allow us to be more efficient and result in greater chances of success with addressing some of these marine concerns over a shorter period of time.