Portneuf-sur-Mer, Québec. Canada

Mission & Achievements

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Our Mission

Mériscope is an independent marine research station and a registered environmental charity in Canada dedicated to protecting marine mammals and marine ecosystems through research, education, outreach and conservation efforts.

  • We are conducting research projects on marine mammals in cooperation with other NGOs, universities and federal authorities.
  • We are promoting education in marine and environmental sciences through a course programme in marine biology and our MérisCool programme.
  • We are actively involved in projects aiming to protect critical marine habitats.
  • We are a member of the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network, the Quebec Centre for Research in Ecotoxicology, and the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (Quebec).
  • Mériscope is based on the north shore of the St. Lawrence Estuary, about 300 km northeast of Québec City.

Our Achievements

  • 2023: The 2023 season was marked by activities related to the MérisCool programme, including the second edition of the Marine Mammal Camp in collaboration with Explos-Nature, the Saguenay-Saint-Lawrence Marine Park and the Marine Mammal Museum in Tadoussac, attended by seven very motivated teenagers. In addition, three high school students from Switzerland completed their final project in biology at our research station. Mériscope’s activities were highlighted by strong media coverage, triggered by the Nature Inspiration Award of the Canadian Museum of Nature that we’ve won the previous year. Regarding the research programme, we collected five biopsies of minke whales as part of our project in collaboration with McGill University. The highlight of the season was undoubtedly October 10, 2023, when, after two years of preparation and training, the Mériscope team finally managed to attach a satellite transmitter to a minke whale, more precisely Ba242, an animal from which we had taken a biopsy on September 10, 2023 – a first in Canada for minke whales. We have also carried out a structural update of our minke whale catalog by applying stricter criteria for identification photos. With 26 new individuals and 18 matches during the 2023 season, the updated and more efficient minke whale catalog now includes 305 individuals.
  • 2022: The highlights of this year include 12 internships with students ranging from undergrads to a PhD candidate, a marine mammal summer camp in collaboration with Explos-Nature, the Saguenay-Saint-Lawrence Marine Park and the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre in Tadoussac, plus 9 minke whale biopsies and a successful humpback whale disentanglement operation. A truly magical moment was the Nature Inspiration Awards ceremony at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa on November 14, where the Mériscope has won the prestigious Nature Inspiration Award in the category “small and medium nonprofit organizations”. Our minke whale catalogue features 370 individuals now and over 450 students have received training through our credited internship program since 2001.
  • 2021: An exciting new partnership with McGill University allows us to launch a comprehensive 4-year research project on minke whales. In collaboration with Dr. Melissa McKinney, Dr. Denis Roy, and Haley Land-Miller (PhD candidate), we are using satellite transmitters, biochemical tracers and population genomics to study minke whales in depth. Our catalogue holds 324 individual minke whales now, and the Mériscope blows out 20 candles this year!
  • 2020: In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic we had to cancel all activities of our field season including the entire course programme. However, Antoine Simond could finish his PhD on biological effects of emerging contaminants in minke whales and belugas and one more matura project was carried out in conjunction with the MérisCool programme. A major highlight was the publication of our new website.
  • 2019: Start of the project « MérisCool », a platform for high school students and teachers, with an array of services around the subject of marine biology. The « MérisCool » programme has quickly been adopted by the Swiss Academy of Technical Sciences (SATW) in the framework of the portal educamint.ch and already three matura projects have been carried out in collaboration with « MérisCool ». Our minke whale catalogue has grown to more than 270 individuals and we have collected eight more biopsies for our contaminant study. A special highlight was the official recogition of the Mériscope as an environmental charity by the Canada Revenue Agency. In December, four team members participated in the World Marine Mammal Conference in Barcelona, where we presented our recent research results.
  • 2016-2018: We have collected 12 minke whale biopsies in the framework of our contaminant study so far, which are being analysed as part of the PhD of Antoine Simond at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM). We have launched the development of a sound/noise monitoring buoy, the « MériScout 1 ». Four team members have participated in the scientific symposium in Tadoussac celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park.
  • 2011-2015: We have established a minke whale catalogue for the St. Lawrence Estuary featuring more than 180 individuals. Mériscope joins the Regional University Corporation and our director serves as board member of the corporation. In 2015, we have launched a research project on bioaccumulation and biological effects of emerging contaminants in minke whales and belugas of the St. Lawrence Estuary, in close cooperation with two universities, two federal authorities, and GREMM.
  • 2006-2010: We have facilitated two Master and two PhD projects in marine biology/ecology and more than 250 students from 10 countries have participated in our course programme since 2001. Mériscope has acquired a new fully equipped zodiac named NARVAL to support our research projects as well as marine mammal rescue and disentanglement operations.
  • 2001-2005: We have developed a research and internship programme in marine biology, in cooperation with several universities in Europe and North America. Our courses are open to students and the public at large. Mériscope has also committed to supporting the Québec Marine Mammal Emergency Network as institutional member.

Our Station

The station is situated right next to the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park, known for its abundant wildlife.

The Mériscope is situated on the north shore of the St. Lawrence Estuary, about 300 km northeast of Québec City, in the middle of gorgeous coastal scenery. Our base offers a fantastic view, overlooking 2000 square kilometers of prime marine mammal habitat.

Main Building and workshop
Guest house and terrace overlooking the sea