My project involves benthic habitat mapping of select coastal sites in Placentia bay, which has been recognized by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) as an “ecologically and biologically significant area – EBSA”. This will enable us to observe baseline characteristics prior to further development and increased traffic in the area. I am incorporating data from a variety of ocean technologies- Multibeam echosounder sonar, CTD (conductivity, temperature, and depth)
instrument, and ground truth samples (videos and e-DNA) to create habitat maps and a species catalogue. I am interested in incorporating automated classification methods of identification, and exploring the potential for eDNA metabarcoding to inform and improve upon our existing data. This project is in collaboration between the 4D Oceans lab at the Marine Institute and DFO.
I completed my Bachelor of Science in Zoology at the National University of Galway, Ireland in 2018. I am currently enrolled as a MSc student in Geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland and part of the 4D Oceans lab at the Marine Institute. My research project will include the mapping of deep-sea megafaunal habitats in the Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone, which is on the Mid Atlantic Ridge in the Northern Atlantic Ocean. I will focus on the species distribution of coral
and sponges and how this is affected by physical factors such as temperature, depth and geological features. I will be annotating video footage collected by a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) from the TOSCA (Tectonic Ocean Spreading at the Charlie-Gibbs Facture Zone) survey in 2018, aboard the RV Celtic Explorer.
My research focuses on the technical aspects and ecological applications of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and multispectral sensors for fine scale mapping of aquatic vegetation. In particular, I focus on fine scale mapping of eelgrass (Zostera marina) beds in Placentia Bay, NL. Eelgrass is an ecologically significant species and provides many ecosystems services; however, like many other seagrass species globally, eelgrass is in decline. This project is part of the government
of Canada’s Coastal Environmental Baseline Program, which seeks to collect data to establish an environmental baseline for future assessments of environmental change.
Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS)
Gloucester, Virginia, USA
I work as a Marine Scientist in the Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) program at VIMS, which works to monitor and restore seagrass across the Chesapeake Bay. My duties include leading fieldwork operations in the summer, such as seed collection and distribution. In the winter, I help with sample processing, analysis, and writing reports and scientific literature. My time in the 4D Oceans Lab prepared me for this job in multiple ways; I gained practical seamanship skills, an understanding of multivariate statistics, and concepts relating to spatial and benthic ecology. One skill I will highlight is the fluency in GIS I gained from my thesis. I will be applying those skills when working with the GIS team in our lab, with the end goal of building species distribution models of individual seagrass species, such as Zostera marina.
Kaitlyn J. Charmey
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
St. John's, Newfoundland
In December 2020, I switched my Master’s to part-time to accept a short 6-month stint as a Research Technician with in the Science department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). In this role I assisted in a project that was exploring the impacts of aquaculture farms by analysing ROV video of the surrounding benthic ecosystem annually since the farm’s implementation. In August 2021, this then led me to a multi-year position as a Shellfish Technician also with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. In this new position, I am assisting with the monitoring of the commercial sea cucumber stock in Newfoundland. Some of my current tasks include planning and conducting annual ROV and dredge surveys, entering and cleaning data, annotating video, and sampling organisms in the lab.
Working as a scientist with the government of Canada has always been one of my goal careers, and it was made possible by doing my master in the 4DOceans lab. I gained valuable experience with benthic surveys, both in the field and in processing the data. Also, learning spatial data skills and mapping in this lab has been extremely beneficial in both my successful applications and in conducting my current day-to-day work tasks. I could go on and on about the scientific and soft skills that I have learned, and currently am still learning from this experience, but overall being a part of the 4D-Oceans lab has made me a better scientist in every capacity.
PhD Seafloor and Habitat Mapping
Postdoctoral Fellow in 4D Oceans Lab
I graduated from Acadia University in 2014 with a BSc. Hons. in environmental science, and from Memorial University in 2019 with a PhD in geography. My PhD work aimed to produce benthic habitat map products for several Canadian Arctic communities, and my research focus was on incorporating spatial concepts into machine learning-based benthic habitat methodologies – particularly, the concepts of geomorphometric scale and spatial autocorrelation. In addition to further exploring these concepts, my post-doctoral research includes developing methodologies for harmonizing acoustic data acquired from different sensors, and on visualizing and interacting with marine data. I am also working as part of the Coastal Habitat Mapping of Placentia Bay project to
characterize the benthic environments of several important locations in the bay. This work will provide baseline ecological information for an area that is exposed to anthropogenic stressors including fishing, aquaculture, oil and gas, and shipping.
PhD. Student (visiting)
I graduated from the Shandong Agricultural University in 2013 and Wuhan University in 2016. Now I am pursuing my doctor’s degree in Wuhan University. Meanwhile, I am also a visiting graduate student in Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland. My research interests include acoustic remote sensing, image processing and machine learning. In MI, my research project is about habitat mapping using 3DSS (three- dimensional side scan sonar). I will be
involved in the data processing and conduct
the seabed classification for habitat mapping. During my research period, the 3DSS measurement mechanism, data acquisition and data processing will be studied. Meanwhile, the relationship between habitat characteristics and the obtained point cloud data will be established. According to the relationship, the seabed classification model will be constructed and can be used for producing habitat maps.