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  • 16 Jul 2019 10:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Oil Spill Research - Science Writers and Communicators of CanadaA female brown pelican being rinsed at a rehabilitation centre in Alabama after getting caught in an oil spill. Credit: Tom MacKenzie, USFWS

    Amid climate change and a seemingly endless stream of news about the deterioration of ecosystems throughout the world, there is some hope for marine life and oceans in Canada. The federal government recently invested $ 2.4 million in oil spill research at the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in New Brunswick.

    This investment will go towards researching effective responses to oil spills with a focus on the impact of oil spill cleaning measures on aquatic animals.

    “Having the best available science is the key to respond effectively to marine incidents, including oil spills. Gaining a better understanding of the effects on our aquatic species will help us make the right decisions when it comes to clean-up measures and keep our oceans and our coasts clean, healthy and safe,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, in a press release.

    This investment is part of the Multi-Partner Research Initiative launched by the government in 2016. The goal of this initiative is to support research projects that focus on alternative responses to oil spills, improving our knowledge on how to best contain spills and reduce their environmental impact. Under this initiative, the government will invest $45.5 million over five years for research.

    Understanding how to safely clean-up after an oil spill is important because large quantities of oil are lost to the environment each year. In 2018 alone there were approximately 116,000 tonnes of oil spilled around the world, according to a report released by the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation.

    This is problematic because oil spills have detrimental effects on the environment. For example, oil floating on the water can suffocate aquatic plants and influence the buoyancy of marine animals. Chemicals in oil spills can also break down, killing fish and other marine creatures or causing chronic health problems, according to a report about the effects of oil spills on the environment released by the Royal Society of Canada in 2015.

    The report also found significant gaps in our knowledge about the influence of oil-spills on vulnerable environments such as the Arctic and recommended more research on the environmental effects of spill response measures.

    Currently, there are three main types of response measures to oil spills, including containing and removing the spills, using chemicals to break down or burn the oil, or using natural processes to disperse the oil. The report warned that some cleaning measures such as using chemicals to disperse oil might also have adverse effects on wildlife and the environment, demonstrating the importance of conducting more research in this area.

    In a country with a strong reliance on marine ecosystems, improving our prevention and response methods for oil spills is essential. Hopefully, this investment will help fill some critical gaps in our knowledge and enhance the safety and sustainability of aquatic wildlife for years to come.

    By: Nicole Babb

    Nicole Babb - Science Writers and Communicators of Canada Blogger

    Nicole Babb is an aspiring journalist from St. John’s, Newfoundland. She recently graduated from Carleton University with a combined honours degree in journalism and psychology. During her time at Carleton, Nicole wrote articles for the university’s student newspaper and completed a health reporting course which sparked her interest in science journalism and communication. She is passionate about writing and photography, and she also enjoys learning about new scientific research.

    Growing up near the ocean, she has always been curious about marine life and she is especially interested in research and reporting concerning the ocean, climate change, and endangered species. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys reading, canoeing, playing basketball and hiking. She also loves animals and spending time with her dog. Nicole is currently residing in Ottawa and she is looking forward to working as a volunteer for Science Writers and Communicators of Canada.

  • 11 Jul 2019 12:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Top Canadian Science Headlines in July for Science Writers and Communicators of Canada (SWCC)Petawawa Research Forest sign. Credit: Jason Spaceman/Flickr

    Periodically, SWCC student members create media monitoring posts to let members know some of the Canadian science news happening lately. Here are six recent stories to consider.

    Summary: Researchers at the Norwegian Polar Institute were left awestruck at data provided by a female arctic fox that travelled from Norway to Canada in just 76 days. According to researchers, the fox travelled roughly 2000 miles to get to its destination on Ellesmere Island. This number represents the fastest journey of this length ever recorded in this species of fox.

    Summary: As one of the best countries in the world, Canada excels in several areas, especially in the field of science. The “Super Awesome Science Show” podcast features an interesting segment with special guest, the Honorable Kirsty Duncan, Canada’s Minister of Science and Sport. This podcast explores her past achievements as a researcher, as well as the impact she is currently making in the political realm.

    Summary: As climate change issues continue to grow, new methods must be developed to ensure that Canada’s forests can survive in extreme weather conditions in the future. A long-term research study is expected to take place in the Petawawa Research Forest. This study will aid Canada’s foresters in developing new methods that will help the forest to adapt to changing climate conditions.

    Summary: Today, it is vital that we work towards breaking down the boundaries between genders. A STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) camp took place earlier this week, with the goal of inspiring young girls to pursue future careers in science and technology. The camp organizers further encouraged young girls with the help of Astronaut Barbie, by “launching” her from Fanshawe College and into space.

    Summary: The decisions we make today, will inevitably impact the youth of tomorrow. As a result, it is only natural that they should become more involved in today’s decision-making processes. Especially when it comes to scientific research and governance. It is for this reason why Canada’s Chief Science Advisor, Mona Nemer, will be working alongside a youth advisory council composed of about 20 members with diverse backgrounds.

    Summary: The impact of climate change poses a big risk risk to coastal and northern communities, as well as to our infrastructures, ecosystems, and health. It is now more important than ever for Canadians to come up with solutions to get ahead of this problem. However, one of the biggest challenges is finding ways to get Canadians to pay for these new solutions.

    By: Mathew Guida


    Biography: As a native Montrealer, I graduated from Concordia University with a BA in Anthropology and a minor in Film Studies. I am currently studying for my master’s degree in Journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa.

    My interest in journalism began while attending Concordia. I was a frequent contributor to the university’s independent newspaper, The Concordian. I further honed my skills and experience by working as a List Writer for the entertainment news website Screen Rant.

    Since I started attending Carleton University, I have strived to further improve my skills as a journalist in not only print, but also in the fields of data, investigative and broadcast journalism. In the past year, I have also developed a growing appreciation for radio journalism and podcasts.

    My current interests lie in studying the future of the journalism industry, writing and researching pop culture and social media trends, as well as furthering my career in the field of journalism.

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