Whale & Seabird News - Summer 2009
(previous newsletters: 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 )
 28 years and counting in 2009.
Our annual newsletter describes our activities in the previous year and outlines plans for the current year.

Table of Contents:


Atlantic herring nutritional value project.
Hillary Lane successfully defended her thesis entitled “Variation in the nutritional value of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) from the Bay of Fundy, Canada” in April 2009.

Herring are often called a “keystone species” and are an important link between the zooplankton and whales, porpoises, seals, seabirds, and large fish in the Bay of Fundy. Prior to this project, little was known about the nutritional value of herring in the Bay. Understanding how the nutritional value of herring varies is crucial to our understanding the biological dynamics in the Bay.annual herring lipid variation graph

Fish were collected from various weirs and purse seine nets around Grand Manan during summers from 2005-2008 and the total amount of fat in each fish was determined using standard laboratory procedures in Dr. Koopman’s lab in North Carolina.  Some fish were also collected in the winter of 2006-2007.

The amount of fat (a measure of nutritional value) in herring is variable over many scales.
By size: Fish of different sizes, from different years, seasons or locations have different amounts of fat. Large fish had significantly more fat than small fish across all years.
Annually:  Fish from 2005 had significantly less fat than fish from 2006-2008. 
Seasonally:  Fish from summer had significantly more fat than fish from winter. 

However, spatially, there was no difference in the amount of fat in fish collected from weirs compared to fish collected from purse seine nets, nor between different weirs.
seasonal herring lipid variation graph
The variation found in herring fat content is likely due to varying nutritional value or abundance of their zooplankton prey. The variation found in the amount of fat in herring has implications for predators. Since different predators eat different sizes of herring, those predators are receiving prey that are worth different amounts nutritionally and can be particularly significant.  Puffins, for instance, feed their chicks small herring.  Less lipids in herring can increase foraging effort, increase the time to fledging, increase the amount of prey the adults must eat, and in particularly poor years, result in the death of chicks when adults can not provide sufficient prey for their chicks.

Funding for this project in 2008 came from the Herring Science Council.  We would also like to thank Connors Brothers in Blacks Harbour, and the weir operators and purse seiners who provided herring samples.


The lobster fishery is one of the most important fisheries in the Bay of Fundy, however, little is known about egg viability.  In this pilot study, the effects of three factors, body size, habitat and diet, that potentially affect the quality of eggs (egg size, lipid (fat) content and composition) produced by a given female were examined. Eggs were also sampled at three points in the development cycle (immediately post-spawning [September], mid-development [December] and just before hatching [June]) to determine whether eggs produced by various females exhibited the same seasonal patterns of lipid levels and utilization. berried female lobster

Although there is a lot of variation in the preliminary data (which is why we will continue this study in 2009) there are several trends that seem clear:

  • There appear to be both female size and temporal influences on the lipid content of lobster eggs. Depending on the sampling period, either the smallest or the medium lobsters had the highest lipid content. However at no time period did the large lobsters have the greatest amount of lipid in their eggs, which is an interesting observation. Once the female size effect was removed, eggs from December had greater lipid contents than either September or June. This is difficult to interpret and we will wait for further samples from 2009 before attempting to explain this pattern.
  • There appear to be both female size and temporal influences on the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the eggs. Large lobsters had consistently lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids than small or medium lobsters. Once female size was taken into account, overall omega-3 levels were highest in September and then lower in December and June, which could be interpreted as use of these developmentally important fatty acids during early phases of growth of the embryos.
  • There is a temporal effect on the levels of triacylglycerols, but less of an effect of female size (although overall the large females did have less of this lipid class). Triacylglycerols were highest in September, lower in December, and lowest in June, which makes complete sense if developing embryos are relying on this important storage lipid for energy during development.
  • Our limited sample size for egg measurements suggested no obvious relationship between female size and egg size, however it did appear that the eggs of larger females had higher indices of development than did those of smaller lobsters.

What does this mean? Our first year of data suggests that eggs from larger females >140 mm (carapace length (CL)) might contain less total lipid and fewer omega-3 fatty acids than females with CL <140mm. Lipid content and omega-3 fatty acids are known to be important for proper and rapid development of eggs into healthy larvae and if the differences we observe are biologically important, it could mean that eggs produced by larger lobsters might not grow as quickly, or have the same probability of post-hatching survival as those from smaller lobsters. Our egg measurement data hint at variable rates of embryonic development among females, with larger females potentially carrying eggs that either develop much more rapidly or much more slowly than those of their smaller counterparts. However, we have only collected samples from one year, and only from 90 lobsters, so we are unable to make any firm conclusions at this point. It is important to also remember that this research took place in a calendar year (2008) but the reproductive cycles of lobsters do not follow this schedule. The eggs we sampled in 2008 were not all from the same cohort (i.e. the eggs sampled in June were spawned in summer 2007, while those sampled in September and December were spawned in 2008) but rather represented two different cohorts. The additional year of sampling should help to clarify our results and allow us to be more confident in our interpretation of the data.

Funding for this project was awarded to Dr. Koopman, Biology and Marine Biology, UNCW from Maine Sea Grant and North Carolina Sea Grant.  All samples were taken under a Fisheries and Oceans permit.


In 2008 the GMWSRS completed the 18th year of the Harbour Porpoise Release Program (HPRP).  Harbour porpoise entrapment rates were low this year, which was not surprising since Grand Manan herring landings were extremely reduced compared to previous years.  Typically porpoise and herring catch rates are closely related.  It is unclear why the herring stayed off shore during 2008 but some have linked it to an over-abundance of freshwater in the Bay of Fundy during the spring and some heavy rainfall in the summer.  The HPRP worked with local weir fishermen to ensure that the few porpoises that did swim into weirs in 2008 were released successfully.  lifting porpoise into skiff

The 2008 Harbour Porpoise Release Program began in the first week in July with the arrival of the release team at the field station on Grand Manan.  Formal weir checks began on July 12th and were carried out until September 1st.  Although some years we check weirs well into September and do have entrapments, we decided that given the high cost of fuel and the few porpoise entrapments, it would be alright.  Had any entrapments have occurred, the weir operators would have alerted us.
This year the Release Program recorded a total of 14 porpoises in weirs, which was down slightly from the 21 recorded in 2007.  Most entrapments occurred in August, which is typically when we see the greatest number of porpoises in weirs.  Of these 14 entrapped porpoises, six swam out unassisted, and eight were actively released.   We did not experience any mortalities during 2008.  No other whales were reported in Grand Manan weirs during 2008.  We did record at least 3 basking sharks in weirs, all of which were released alive.

A large portion of our success is due to the frequent use of our mammal seines.  These nets are used to release porpoises and whales while leaving herring inside the weir.  We helped develop the first mammal seine in 1991 and also helped in obtaining the second larger net in 2002.  Our data show that porpoise mortality rates are far less when fishermen use the mammal seine (2%) vs. a herring seine (11%) so we strongly encourage its use.  We have discovered that individual seines are better suited for use in specific weirs and as such guide the fishermen on which seine to use.  All porpoise seines were carried out using the mammal seines this year, which likely contributed to our high success rate.

Entrapments over the season
A sharp decline in overall herring landings was observed in 2008.  Porpoises like to stay close to their prey, and remained with the herring offshore.  The few weir entrapments we recorded were not associated with herring catches and probably represent random porpoises swimming into weirs.  The irregular nature of porpoise entrapment rates weirs makes it difficult to predict what will happen in 2009 (see Fig. 1). 

Porpoises handled this year
Together with the help of Grand Manan weir fishermen we successfully released eight porpoises during the 2008 field season.  We were able to obtain some measure of information from all eight of these individuals.  Here is a summary of the harbour porpoise releases from 2008 (each weir is named individually):
Aug 7, one female and one male released from Intruder Weir
Aug 8, one male released from Jubilee Weir
Aug 15, one female released from Mystery Weir
Aug 16, one male and one female released from Intruder Weir, one male released from Iron Lady Weir and one male released from Pipe Dream Weir.
The largest porpoise (GM0805) caught during 2008 was a male who was 141 cm in length and weighed 45 kg, The smallest porpoise (GM0802) was a tiny calf who was not responsive in the boat and was thus quickly returned to the water before measurements could be taken.  In addition we had a recapture of a female porpoise (GM0806 Aug 16, 140 cm and 40 kg in 2008) that was first caught in 2007 (GM0706 Aug 28, then 127 cm and 41 kg).  graph of porpoise releases

We clipped small, uniquely numbered plastic roto-tags on the dorsal fins of all five porpoises (Green for females and Orange for males—we change colours every year); these tags allow us to identify individuals if they are later re-sighted.  Several of the porpoises we roto-tagged in previous years were sighted around Grand Manan over the course of the summer.

It is difficult to predict what 2009 has in store, but as usual the GMWSRS will be standing by ready to assist local weir fishermen with porpoise and whale entrapments.  The GMWSRS as a small non-profit organization struggling along with the rest of Canada during these hard financial times, is very grateful for the continued support and look forward to continued support in 2009.

THANK YOU to our funding partners, private donations, and the weir operators for their continued support: Down to Earth Conservation and Education, Connors Brothers, Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society, McLean Foundation, Huntsman Marine Science Centre.

The study of shearwaters in the Bay of Fundy continued in 2008.  The field season ran from 21 July and 11 September during which time we captured, processed and released  95 Greater shearwaters and 2 Sooty shearwaters. The main findings of the study were as follows:
Seabird health: Over four years we have banded nearly 300 shearwaters and recorded standard measurements (weight, size, wing moult) for all birds. In 2008 this accounted for 95 Greater shearwaters and 2 Sooty arwaters and although it was hoped to band more birds, the concentrations of shearwaters were not present in 2008, increasing the difficulty of capturing individuals. The most significant finding from these data is that shearwaters gain weight and complete their wing-moult while foraging in the Bay of Fundy. This shows the importance of the Bay of Fundy as foraging habitat to replenish body reserves for long-distance migration. greater shearwaters

As a follow-up to these findings, in 2008 we initiated a new study investigating other techniques to monitor health changes in seabirds during this critical staging period. We tested for seasonal changes in health from hematology (blood cell counts, n = 39), triacylglycerols (TAG) levels (lipids in the blood that represent fat reserves, n = 52), and corticsterone (stress hormones, n = 47). Hematology parameters showed changes within seasons and among years suggesting that this may be a valuable tool for health monitoring and also corresponds with migration timing. TAG levels were highly variable and showed no seasonal trends, but were positively correlated with bird mass, confirming that bird mass is an overall good indicator of fattening. Corticosterone analysis encountered problems in the lab and results are not available for reporting at this time.
Seabird diet: More than 50 blood and 70 feather samples were collected from shearwaters for dietary analysis. Greater and Sooty Shearwater diets show inter-annual differences in the Bay of Fundy (blood samples) but no differences at moulting grounds (feather samples). Stable isotope mixing models show both krill and herring to be the major components of shearwater diets. There were subtle but consistent differences in diet among shearwater species. Stable isotopes analysis of bird blood show detectable differences in diet among years, suggesting that sampling of seabird diets can be a useful tool for tracking ecosystem changes in the Bay of Fundy.

We have now completed four years of sampling shearwater diets in the Bay of Fundy and have expanded the number of prey species in the analysis, adding 50 prey samples in 2008 including krill, squid and several fish species.
Tracking studies: This was the third year of satellite tracking studies. Satellite tags were deployed on 2 Sooty shearwaters and 9 Greater shearwaters in August 2008. These birds were tracked for approximately 110 days on average (minimum 38 and maximum 181 days).  Mapping of tracks show distinct “hotspots” of activity around Grand Manan and we observed several new patterns with tracking this year. This included: 

  • broader foraging patterns which extended into the Gulf of Maine and Scotian Shelf,
  • delayed migration by three individuals,
  • migration route of one Sooty Shearwater along the African coastline,
  • one Greater shearwater migration that was interrupted in Brazil where it was bycatch in a fishing boat, and
  • three individuals which traveled to the coast of South Africa for foraging.migration routes of shearwaters

These new discoveries highlight the individual variability in animal movements that exist within a population, and thus the need to include a large sample size, spread among years.

Permits for capture, banding, tagging and sampling (feathers and blood) were obtained from the Canadian Wildlife Service (#SC2599) and the Bird Banding Office (sub permit under Dr. Tony Diamond, UNB, permit #10480 S). University Animal Care Certificate for research protocols was issued to Dr. Heather Koopman, University of North Carolina Wilmington (certificate #2007-007). U.S. Federal Fish and Wildlife import permit under the Migratory Bird Act was obtained to send blood samples to North Carolina for laboratory analysis (#MB112041-0). We also obtained an Industry Canada license for the use of transmitters designed for wildlife.

Rob Ronconi, a Research Biologist at the GMWSRS, successfully defended his PhD at the University of Victoria in April 2008 and has started a post-doctoral fellowship at Dalhousie University in Halifax. The shearwater project in 2008 was funded through the New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund, and Envronment Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund. The research station also relies on the generous donations of many individuals for this project.

We worked with Robin Hunnewell again in 2008 and were able to catch red-necked phalaropes at night for her research.  She attached tiny radio transmitters to the birds to track their movements.  Normally these phalaropes will spend about three weeks in the Bay gaining enough weight to continue their migration.  However we do not see them in one location for a sufficient length of time for this fattening process to occur.  It was hoped that the radio transmitters might allow Robin to track their movements while in the Bay.  The signals could be picked up from land promontories but better reception was obtained from the air, using the local air charter service on Grand Manan. 

Robin was able to determine that the tagged phalaropes were travelling back and forth across the Bay from off Grand Manan to off Brier Island in Nova Scotia which may explain why birds are not seen for extended periods of time in one location as used to happen when the birds stopped between Campobello and Deer Islands in large numbers.  She plans to continue her work in 2009 as part of her PhD. Thesis.


Right Whale Stewardship

   In 2008 we were awarded a Government of Canada Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP) grant to inform coastal communities in the Bay of Fundy about whale disentanglement and its importance, until a satisfactory solution can be found to prevent whale entanglements from occurring.  Our focus was primarily community schools and groups.  Mackie Greene, Campobello Whale Rescue Team, and Bob Bowman, Wildlife Associates,  helped us with the presentations.  Both have extensive experience disentangling whales and are sympathetic to the difficulty of finding reasonable solutions without compromising either the whales or the fishing industry. Our goals were to:
  • provide detailed information about the process of disentangling whales to a diverse group ranging from youth who may become involved in marine trades to aquaculture to fishermen to recreational boaters to some government departments,
  • determine in the local communities whether there are individuals who would like to learn more about the process and possibly become part of the whale disentanglement team, and
  • build a stronger network of individuals/groups who may be able to help with this.
    Presentation were well received and were made to schools in New Brunswickbreaching right whale calf and Nova Scotia that border on the Bay of Fundy, classes at the community college in St. Andrews, NB, a marine mammal course at Dalhousie University, the Fishermen and Scientists Research Society Annual General meeting, the Fundy Regional Forum, a committee comprised mainly of fishing industry stakeholders from Southwestern New Brunswick, the Salmon Industry stakeholders from Southwestern New Brunswick, the Grand Manan Fishermen’s Association, New Brunswick whale watch companies, Fisheries and Oceans officers in Nova Scotia, the St. Andrews Biological Station and Huntsman Marine Science Centre and the annual meeting of the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium.  Articles were also provided to the Grand Manan Fishermen’s Association and the Salmon Grower’s Association for their newsletters.

    While presenting a detailed description of the entanglement issue and how whales are disentangled, we also tried to gain the confidence of fishermen, in particular, who are critical to both the reporting of entangled whales and to finding workable solutions. It is important to keep fishermen involved and a number of actions have resulted including the Mitigation Strategy for Southwestern New Brunswick which outlines voluntary actions to avoid entangling whales, a Whale Hotline was established where whale sightings can be reported and those sightings accessed as well, fall aerial surveys to determine where right whales are located and report those sightings to the Whale Hotline and right whale sighting networks. We worked with the local air charter and Fisheries and Oceans on these flights beginning in late October and continuing into December.  It is interesting to know that right whales in December range from the Bay of Fundy to Florida.  We also recognized in our presentations that successful disentanglements recognize those involved and a follow-up is provided when additional information is acquired such as further sightings of the whale.

    We were also involved in consultations with GREMM (The Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals) and a number of Maritime groups (Maritime Animal Rescue Society, New Brunswick Museum, University of Prince Edward Island) to continue the development of a more formal Network to respond to marine animal emergencies in the Maritimes and the discussion of a call-in centre for reporting marine animal emergencies.  Those discussions are ongoing, including a recent meeting to plan for the upcoming summer.  We are hopeful an effective network will result.

    We also participated this winter (2009) in a workshop chaired by World Wildlife Fund on possible solutions to whale entanglements attended by fishing association representatives, right whale researchers, disentanglers and government representatives.  World Wildlife Fund has working closely with fishermen in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick on this topic for a few years.

    In 2009 we have been awarded another HSP grant to develop an educational package to be used by schools to let students learn about endangered right whales and then become certified as Right Whale Stewards. 

Right Whale Notes

Right whale dive sequence
The Bay of Fundy was a different place in the summer of 2008 with a strong fresh water component from heavy floods and rains.  Herring remained at depth for much of July and August.  This changed the distribution of herring loving whales such as fin and humpback whales, harbour porpoises, and also seabirds.  However, right whales were unaffected and began appearing in July, although the first reported sighting was in late May by a lobster fisherman working close to Brier Island, NS. The last sighting was of two male right whales on Jan. 28, 2009 off Point LePreau, NB, the latest confirmed record.  Another unusual sighting was a right whale, named Pico, RW #3270, off the Azores in early January, 2009.  Pico is one of the islands in the Azores and the bonnet callosity of this particular right whale closely resembled the shape of the island.  This female had been photographed in the Bay of Fundy in late September, 2008. The New England Aquarium is in the process of naming all of the right whales in the right whale catalogue, not that the whales need names but to help in the field with identification (names often relate to noteworthy callosity patterns, scars, etc.) and because most people relate better to a name rather than a number (all right whales have a catalogue number).

Working closely with the New England Aquarium, we had the privilege of adding three additional calves to the catalogue who were not photographed in the calving areas. This is the first time this has happened since 1994 when the intensity of aerial flights increased significantly in the calving areas ranging from North Carolina to Florida. Usually any calves that were missed in the calving areas are found off Cape Cod and the Great South Channel. The total number of calves was 24 with one other suspected but never fully documented.  Fifteen mothers and calves were documented in the Bay with the challenge being matching the calf with the mother.  By the time right whale mother and calf pairs come to the Bay, the calf has some independence, waiting for an hour or more for the mother to return from feeding.  It isn’t always possible to wait for the mother to return and it helps to have more than one vessel photographing. We contribute our photographs and  work cooperatively with the New England Aquarium to greatly help this matching process.

No entangled right whales were reported in the Bay of Fundy in 2008, although a humpback whale was successfully disentangled in late November off Brier Island by lobster fishermen who had found the humpback whale entangled and had been trained as first responders. However, this winter (2009) saw many entangled right whales showing up in the calving area (five in total, all partially or fully disentangled), including Bridle, RW #3311, who was successfully sedated after several attempts and entangling lines removed.  This six year old whale had a complicated entanglement and resisted all attempts to disentangle.  The sedation seemed to calm the whale, allowing close approaches but did not appear to slow the swimming speed or change the dive pattern.  While these extreme measures show promise, not providing situations where whales may get entangled is the ultimate solution. 
A male right whale, Ruffian #3530 was photographed in January 2008 with extensive wounds across his back.  The cause was unknown but possibly caused by something scraping across the whale.  The prognosis was not good but the whale was last seen over a year later (March 2009) with all wounds healed.  This whale shows the ability of right whales to recover from unbelievable injuries.

It must be noted that 2009 has been a record since 1980 for the number of right whales born.  A total of 39 calves were recorded with their mothers but that number may increase as the mothers bring their calves north.  Not all right whale mothers are photographed in the calving areas off the south-eastern United States.  Possibly 28 mothers and calves may bring their calves to the Bay of Fundy this summer which could prove to be a busy one.  It is important to photograph the calves when they are six months or older.  The callosities patterns are formed by this age and can be used to track the whales for the rest of its life. 

Calvin was photographed off Wilmington, NC on 30 Dec. 2008, with her second calf, exactly four years and a few kilometres from where she was photographed with her first calf, Hobbes.

In June 2009, the Canadian Right Whale Recovery Strategy has finally been accepted after several years in the making.  This replaces the Right Whale Recovery Plan from 2000.  The new strategy was required as part of the Species at Risk Act.  The strategy can be viewed at under Recovery Strategies.

Each year to ensure its continuation and recognize its importance, we contribute to the University of Guelph’s Gaskin Medal in Freshwater and Marine Biology.   It was established in 1999 by the University to honour our late founder, Dr. David Gaskin, and is awarded annually to the graduating student with the highest accumulative average.  This year the University temporarily rescinded a number of their awards because of the current financial crisis.  Fortunately the Department of Integrated Biology recognized the importance of this medal and went ahead with the award.  Here is a list of the winners since its inception:
1999: Cheryl Tinson                              2005: Stephanie Johnston
2000: David Hardie                                2006: Roger Thiessen
2001: Noreen Kelly                               2007: Jessica Van Zwol
2002: James Histed                              2008: Alexander Dalton
2003: Daniel Lingwood                          2009: Sarah Larocque
2004: Lindsay Jennings


In 2008 from June through the first part of October, visitor numbers decreased (5763) over 2007 and remain well below the thirteen year average (7998).  Our sales per person in the gift shop, continued to drop from the high of 2006 but it is still possible to pay some salaries and maintain the facility without looking for outside assistance, even with the declining number of visitors.   The continued low number of visitors makes it more challenging when purchasing stock to prevent overstocking but still have a good selection. 

Our staff were two Grand Manan students, Sheldon Fudge and Aleta Leighton (partially funded by grants from Human Resources Canada and the province of New Brunswick S.E.E.D. program) and Brenda Bass, plus our volunteer Ken Ingersoll filling in when Laurie was busy with other duties.  We have received donations of items for sale from some of our “Friends” including jewellery, matted photographs, calendars and whale guides.

We are still cleaning the pilot whale skeleton from May 2007 and hope to have it rearticulated at some point, along with the pilot whale calf from 2003. Removing the oil from the bones takes time.


In early 2008 a group of concerned people successfully lobbied the Village of Grand Manan to stop proceedings on the sale of the Swallowtail Keepers portion of the Swallowtail peninsula. The Village has owned this property since 1994.  This does
Canada Day at Swallowtail Light not include the lighthouse but does include the keepers house, boat house and the two buildings above the stairs, one of which is a pump house to deliver water down the hill and the other is the old boat house from the discontinued lighthouse on Ross Island, moved to that location by the former light keeper, Grimmer Ingersoll and his brother in the mid-1960s.  The Village had been struggling with getting appropriate tenants and decided that it would be easier to sell the property before it fell into complete disrepair, rather than trying to keep it up themselves without a long term plan.

A steering committee was formed and took on the task of getting a Memorandum of Understanding and long-term lease from the Village and begin plans to renovate and restore the property.  Charitable status was also pursued with the help of lawyer Frank Longstaff and was successfully achieved.

After an initial cleanup of the buildings, the first official act was to reinstall a flag pole and have an official flag raising on July 1, with Corporal Andy Scott of the RCMP presiding in thick fog.  The immediate goal it to get the buildings to a state that they are weather proof and not deteriorating any further and to preserve the look and feel of an operational light station, despite automation of the light house.  At present the light house remains in the hands of the federal government.  Eventually it is hoped to have a number of historic displays and interpretation panels on the property, using the former Ross Island boat house as the initial greeting centre for visitors to the light station.  In this planning, the roof has been replaced on this building and a beautiful deck built which encircles three sides of the building and gives a lovely view of the light house and surrounding Pettes Cove and Sawpit.

    How does this concern the GMWSRS?  Our executive director, Laurie Murison, is the chair person of the steering committee and is dedicated to bringing as much marine interpretation as possible into the display panels that will eventually be completed.  Swallowtail is a great place to watch marine mammals and seabirds.  As well, the weirs in Pettes Cove entrap porpoises and the Harbour Porpoise Release Program can be explained and promoted.

    A blog has been started at if you are interested in keeping up with the latest developments.


Dr. Heather Koopman, Univ. of North Carolina, Wilmington (UNCW)
Dr. Andrew Westgate, UNCW
Dr. Aleksija Neimanis, Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre
Laurie Murison, GMWSRS
Rob Ronconi, University of Victoria
Sarah Wong, Dalhousie University

Research Assistants
Ken Ingersoll, Grand Manan
Margaret Leighton, Mount Allison Univ.
Jenny Lymer
Halli MacDonald

Zach Swaim, UNCW

Graduate Student
Hillary Lane, UNCW
Caitlin McKinstry, UNCW
Visiting Scientists
Robin Hunnewell, Manomet Bird Observatory
Sue Budge & Damian Litgard
Johan Lindsjö
Museum & Gift Shop Students
Sheldon Fudge
Aleta Leighton
Brenda Bass

Family and Friends
John, Ieva, Aelita Neimanis
Scott Sherin
Lisa Levesque
Laurie, John & Beth Lymer
Lacey & Rick McKinstry
Scott Lewis
Alex MacDonald
Weir operators
Canines: Skye, Arran, Fennec & Taj

If you wish to continue or are not already a Friend please fill in the form. If you know someone who would like to be added to our list, please pass this information along. 

Mary Lou Campbell, Grand Manan NB
(our founding donor)

(all categories, excluding right whale adoptions but including memoriams)
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Mary Lou Campbell, Grand Manan, NB
Laurie Campbell, Fredericton, NB
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Jan Purvis, London, ON
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Legislative Assembly Library, Fredericton, NB
Berner Trail Public School, Scarborough, ON
Victoria University Library, C.K. Socknat, Toronto, ON
Grand Manan Teachers Association, Grand Manan, NB
Five Anonymous donations through United Way, Charlottetown, PE, and Ottawa, ON, and Canada Helps

SYMBOLIC RIGHT WHALE ADOPTIONS: (see for list of adopters):
Doris Applebaum, Oak Park, MI
Michael & Vanessa Bass, Sackville, NB
Cynthia & Jim Bast, Austin, TX
Susan & Matthew Collier, Powell, OH
Susan Corey, Owen Sound, ON
Robert Cormack, Lafayette, CA
Robin Cormier, Halifax, NS
Kelly Danyow, Ferrisburg, VT
Joyce Derksen, Windsor, ON
Karen Doak, Memramcook, NB
Susan Durant, Cambridge, ON
Mary Catherine Edwards, Kingston, ON
Debby Esch, Toronto, ON
Ann Firman, Oshawa, ON
Anna Maria Forrest, Fredericksburg, VA
Anne Green, Toronto, ON
Diane Gregory, Waterloo, ON
Peter Hall, Ferguson Cove, NS
Matthew Aaron Hall, Vancouver, BC
Sarah Haney, Bolton, ON
Mark Hatchette, Calgary, AB
Lisa & Robert Henderson, Arthur, ON
Kent Hunter, Newmarket, ON
Linda Hutchings, Calgary, AB
Cathy James, Hernando, MS
Hannah Johnston, Chevy Chase, MD
Rose Jones, Kingston, ON
Kris Kearns, Sagamore Hills, OH
Agnes Koller, Fredericton, NB
Donald Kumpula Jr., Seattle, WA
Catherine Laratte, Shediac, NB
Daniel Lavan, Ottawa, ON
Chantal Léger, Montréal, QC
Eleanor Linberg, Schenectady, NY
Doug Long, Mountain, ON
Sheila MacDonald, East Gore, NS
J. Philip McAleer, Bedford, NS
John McCrory, Raleigh, NC
Debby McNamara, Tallahassee, FL
Sue Ann Ostrom, Kimball, MI
Craig Pitts, Wolfe Island, ON
Dr. Yolande Prénoveau, Pierrefonds, QC
Melissa Rock, High River, AB
Marilyn Ross, Fayeteville, PA
Judy Stone, Grand Manan, NB
Sue Stymest, Grand Manan, NB
Lindsay Tamarri, Highwood, IL
Trish Toll, Grand Manan, NB
Deborah Turkovich, Wainfleet, ON
Jayne Turner, Grand Manan, NB
Jason Vick, Pierrefonds, QC
Elizabeth Walker, Aurora, ON
Sarah Weston, Halifax, NS
Kathy Wheeler, Nepean, ON
Dede Wilson, London, UK
Mary Viviano, Pearl Lean Elementary, Warren, MI
Sheila Weeks Bonnar, South Devon Elementary, Fredericton, NB
Alison Wells, Margaret Park School, Winnipeg, MB
Leo Baeck Day School, Thornhill, ON
Susan Rendell, Cambridge & District Elementary School, Cambridge Station, NS
Jamie Nyland, Pineview Public School, Athens, ON
Yuki Harimoto, U. of Toronto Innis College Residence Environmental Committee Toronto, ON
Joanne Carney, Tall Ship Adventures, St. Andrews, NB
Becky Jo Farrington, Clean Water Action, East Lansing, MI
Kate Engler, AMEK, San Diego, CA

Jacob Hancock
Dr. David Sergeant
Bete Bartlett
Ed Simpson

Dwayne Danner 16th Birthday, Feb. 29
Grace McDougall, 8th Birthday
Heather Rock (Mother’s Day)
Joyce & Deiter Bunge
Elaine O'Sullivan-Phillips


Summer Students

Human Resources Development Canada
New Brunswick SEED Program
Harbour Porpoise Release Program (HPRP) Support
International Fund for Animal Welfare
Whale & Dolphin ConservationSociety
McLean Foundation
Shearwater Research
New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund
National Geographic Society (to Dr. Koopman, UNCW)
  • Allan McDonald Images
  • Atlantic Mariculture (WCF) 
  • Connors Brothers (HPRP)
  • Down to Earth Conservation & Education
  • Fairmont Algonquin Hotel (WCF)
  • Huntsman Marine Science Centre (HPRP)
  • Maine Coast Sea Vegetables (WCF)
  • M.G. Fisheries
  • Tall Ship Whale Adventures (WCF)
  • Whales-n-Sails Adventures (WCF)
  • Wyland Foundation (WCF)
HPRP = Harbour Porpoise Release Program
WCF = Whale Conservation Fund


We would like to thank everyone who has donated time and effort to our work and projects including the Weir Operators, whale watch companies (Whales-n-Sails Adventures, Quoddy Link Marine), Dr. Tony Diamond, Campobello Whale Rescue,
Marine Animal Rescue Society, Jerry Conway, Grand Manan Fishermens Association, Yan Guilbault and especially Andrea Kelter.  For those who supplied herring for the lipid project: Jeff and Carter Foster, Matt Lambert, Blaine and Stacy Brown, Danny and Russell Ingalls, Earl Wayne Green and their crews, Connors Bros. and the St. Andrews Biological Station.

Congratulations to both Zach Swaim and Rob Ronconi for successfully defending their graduate degrees, a Masters and a PhD, respectively.

Dr. Aleksija Neimanis, who has been with the GMWSRS for many years and works as a  wildlife pathologist at the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre in Saskatoon, is starting a new job at the Pathology and Wildlife Disease Division of the National Veterinary Institute in Uppsala, Sweden.


Scientific Papers, Book Chapters:

  • Bellefleur, D., P. Lee and R.A. Ronconi. In press. The impact of recreational boat traffic on Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus).  Journal of Environmental Management.
  • Meagher, E.M. , W.A. McLellan, A.J. Westgate, R.S. Wells, J.E. Blum, D.A. Pabst. 2008. Seasonal patterns of heat loss in wild bottlenose dolphins ( Tursiops truncatus ). Journal of Comparative Physiology B: Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology (2008) 178:529–543
  • Neimanis, A.S., H. N. Koopman, A. J. Westgate, K. Nielsen, and F. A. Leighton. 2008. Evidence of Exposure to Brucella sp. in Harbor Porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) from the Bay of Fundy, Canada  Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 44(2) pp. 480–485
  • Swaim, Z., H. Koopman, A. Westgate, R. Rolland, and S. Kraus. 2009. Metabolism of ingested lipids by North Atlantic right whales.  Endangered Species Research Vol. 6: 259–271
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Learned Societies Presentations

  • Lane, Hillary. Ontogenetic, seasonal, and annual variation in lipid content and composition of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) from the Bay of Fundy, Canada. American Fisheries Society Tidewater Chapter Meeting, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Glouchester Point, VA, March 6-8 2008.
  • Lane, Hillary. Temporal and ontogenetic variation in the nutritional value of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus), an important prey species in the Bay of Fundy, Canada. Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Marine Mammal Symposium, Hollings Marine Laboratory, Charleston, SC, March 28-30, 2008. Awarded best talk by a master's student.
  • Lane, H and HN Koopman. Ontogenetic and temporal variation in the nutritional quality of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) from the Bay of Fundy, Canada. Annual Meeting, Tidewater Chapter of the American Fisheries Society (2009, Wilmington NC).  Awarded second best talk by student.
  • Murison, L and P. Hamilton. Contributions to the Right Whale Catalogue from a Canadian whale watch vessel. North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium Annual Meeting.  Nov. 5-6, 2008, New Bedford, MA
  • Murison, L and Mackie Greene. Community outreach to increase awareness and involvement in whale disentanglement. North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium Annual Meeting.  Nov. 5-6, 2008, New Bedford, MA
  • <>
  • Ronconi, R.  2008.  Patterns and processes of marine habitat selection: foraging ecology, competition and coexistence among coastal seabirds. PhD. Thesis, University of Victoria, British Columbia.
  • Swaim, Z. 2008. Lipid metabolism by right whales: Using fecal samples to assess assimilation of copepod triacylglycerols and was esters. Master’s Thesis. University of North Carolina, Wilmington.
  • Lane, H. 2009. Variation in the nutritional value of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) from the Bay of Fundy, Canada. Master’s Thesis. University of North Carolina, Wilmington.

  • Harbour Porpoise Release Program (HPRP Team).  Our team will arrive in July and respond to any entrapments.
  • Whale Watch Data Collection (Laurie Murison).  Locations, numbers, species identification and photo-identification data will again be collected on Whales-n-Sails whale watch trips. 
  • Nutritional Quality of Herring for Higher Predators (Heather Koopman & Hillary Lane). Herring from weirs and purse seiners will be collected during the summer and later analyzed in Dr. Koopman’s lab in North Carolina. Funding through the Herring Science Council. Final year.
  • Large Whale Disentanglement Network (GMWSRS).  We will be ready to respond to any entanglements during the summer.
  • Diet Analysis and Satellite Tracking of Shearwaters and Gulls (Rob Ronconi).  Shearwaters, and now gulls, will be caught at sea, banded, sampled, and a few satellite tracked.  Check for updates on the project.  Emphasis will be placed on defining essential feeding habitat. Funding from New Brunswick Wildlife Trust, Environmental Damage Fund and Royal Caribbean Ocean Fund. Bowdoin College Research Station on Kent Island will also be involved in the gull component of this study which will constitute an undergraduate thesis project.
  • Locating, Capturing and Radio Tagging Red-necked Phalaropes.  We will provide logistical support to Robin Hunnewell from Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences and a PhD. Candidate at Univ. of New Brunswick to capture red-necked phalaropes at sea
  • Tracking Basking Sharks (Caitlin McKinstry & Andrew Westgate) a preliminary study will be undertaken to attach a satellite tracking tag to a basking shark as a Masters of Science project.  Funding from PADI.
  • Lobster Egg Lipids (Heather Koopman) a pilot study to determine the energy content of eggs from wide size range of female lobsters.  Maine & North Carolina Sea Grant funding to Dr. Koopman.
  • Right Whale Stewards (Laurie Murison) developing a program for schools to learn more about right whales. Funding from Government of Canada, Habitat Stewardship Program.
  • Future work: Energy and contaminant levels of food provision by Leach’s Storm Petrel to chicks. Masters of Science project.
    Without the cooperation of all of our personnel, we would not be able to accomplish the work undertaken each summer.  It is not unusual for our researchers to release a porpoise in the morning, collect zooplankton samples in the afternoon and then prepare herring for analysis in the evening.  We are also grateful that most are able to volunteer their time and expertise to accomplish our research and conservation goals.  

Adopt Right Whales —  We happily enclose a copy of our new program designed to provide information to those interested in helping right whales and raise funds at the same time.  Donations can be made at three levels, individual whales ($40), mothers and calves ($75) and families ($100).  You will receive a certificate suitable for framing, information about right whales, and an update about your whale(s) travels. Funding for development of this program has been from private donations, the Fairmont Algonquin Hotel, and Royal Caribbean International.  Proceeds will help us continue our research and conservation work.  We have added more whales to be symbolically adopted and have a blog,
  • We appreciate your support and look forward to a continued friendship. Please fill out the donation form
    and help us continue our programs.


(previous newsletters: 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 )

Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station Inc.
24 Route 776, Grand Manan, NB, Canada, E5G 1A1

© 2009 Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station Inc.

This page maintained by revised June 25, 2009