Portneuf-sur-Mer, Québec. Canada
+1-581-323-1027
info(at)meriscope.com

Collaboration & Projects

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Call for Collaboration

The Mériscope invites NGOs, universities and government agencies to collaborate with us in order to conduct research projects in marine biology and environmental sciences.

We have guided and supervised field projects of undergraduate and postgrad students from Canadian, European and American universities. Several Bachelor and Master projects as well as three PhD projects have been conducted at our field base in eastern Canada since 2001. Over 400 people have participated in our course program.

We are operating under permits issued by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Parks Canada and our biopsy protocol is approved by the Canadian Council on Animal Care. 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). Furthermore, we are regularly involved in working groups of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Parks Canada.

Current Projects

Bioaccumulation and biological effects of PBDEs and emerging flame retardants in minke whales in the St. Lawrence Estuary (2018-2021); in collaboration with Dr. Jonathan Verreault (Université du Québec à Montréal, UQAM), Dr. David Janz (University of Saskatchewan) and Dr. Magali Houde (Environment Canada).  Read more

Taking a biopsy from a minke whale is a real challenge: the time window is about two seconds, just after the last blow and before the dive, when the animal exposes the lower flank, at a distance of 8-25 meters and ideally at an angle of 90 degrees. Since we are using a crossbow and relatively bulky darts, we have to account for wind direction and speed when shooting. We only take a biopsy after a detailed 30-minutes sample of the animal’s behavior, during which we measure dive duration, respiratory rate and velocity of the animal, to compare these to the same parameters during a post-biopsy behavioral sample. 80 % of the minke whales resume their normal behavior within less than 15 minutes after the biopsy.


Long-term monitoring of minke whales in the St. Lawrence Estuary: photo identification, spatio-temporal distribution and behavioral ecology (since 2001); Read more

Photo identification: some of the 270 individual minke whales in our catalogue – the identification of minke whales is based on the size and shape of the dorsal fin, the location and shape of marks along the edge of the dorsal fin (cutting edge, trailing edge, tip of the fin) as well as additional marks on the flanks or the head.

Passive acoustic monitoring of marine mammals in the St. Lawrence Estuary: structural and functional properties of marine mammal vocalizations and effects of anthropogenic noise (since 2001).

Recording equipment: 1) Surface-deployed omnidirectional wide-band hydrophone, 2) C-POD („POrpoise Detector“), 3) Directional parabolic microphone, 4) Monitoring buoy (“Popup”)
The embryonic stages of our new acoustic buoy: 1) Engineers Bruno and Urs talking shop, 2) Main circuit boards, 3) Soldering of components, 4) Electronic heart with GPS and WLAN components

Completed Projects

  • 2019: Movement patterns of the common minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) in a local foraging ground within the St. Lawrence Estuary. Saskia Hurst, University of Bremen, internship in the framework of a M.Sc. project.
  • 2017: Biodiversity assessment in a tidal ecosystem of the St. Lawrence Estuary. Jeanine Brantschen, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, internship in the framework of a M.Sc. project.
  • 2014-2017: Bioaccumulation and biological effects of PBDEs and priority emerging flame retardants in minke whales and belugas in the St. Lawrence Estuary. Antoine Simond, Ph.D. project, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM).
  • 2016: Spatial distribution of Mysticetes and Odontocetes in the St. Lawrence Estuary with an emphasis on minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata): individual difference in habitat use and behavioral responses to biopsies. Diandra Düngen, Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, M.Sc. thesis.
  • 2015: Education, research and the biopsy project. Gessica Gambaro, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, internship in the framework of a M.Sc. project.
  • 2013: Spatio-temporal distribution and photo ID catalogue of minke whales in the St. Lawrence Estuary. Sandra Striegel, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, internship in the framework of a M.Sc. project.
  • 2012: GIS study of beluga sightings and photo ID catalogue of belugas in the St. Lawrence Estuary. Anne Mancosu, Univ. of Zurich, Bachelor project.
  • 2010-2012: 3MTSim: Marine Mammal and Maritime Traffic Simulator: A multi-agent model to assist the integrated management of human activities in the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park and the proposed St. Lawrence Estuary Marine Protected Area in Quebec. In collaboration with Université de Montréal, École de Technologie Supérieure (Montreal), University of Calgary (Alberta), Fisheries and Oceans CanadaParks Canada, and GREMM (Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals); NSERC, strategic project.
  • 2010-2011: Passive acoustic monitoring of harbour porpoises in the St. Lawrence Estuary: effects of anthropogenic noise and environmental factors on the behaviour of Phocoena phocoena. Anne Herrmann, Univ. of Greifswald, Germany, in collaboration with the German Oceanographic Museum, Stralsund, Master thesis.
  • 2005-2009: Rorqual whale (Balaenopteridae) lunge-feeding behaviors, processes and mechanisms. Brian W. Kot, Univ. of California, Los Angeles, PhD project.
  • 2008: Data base development and GIS mapping of blue whale and finback whale sightings in the St. Lawrence Estuary. Stephanie Kalberer, Univ. of Zurich, Bachelor project.
  • 2002-2007: Tracking blue whale vocalizations and anthropogenic noise in the St. Lawrence estuary. Lucia Di Iorio, Univ. of Zurich, Switzerland, & Cornell University, NY, PhD project.
  • 2006: Analysis of invertebrate fauna in the intertidal zone of Portneuf-sur-Mer. Johan Decelle, Univ. Pierre-et-Marie-Curie, Paris, France, Bachelor project.
  • 2003-2005: Rorqual whales surface-feeding strategies: Biomechanical aspects of feeding anatomy and exploitation of prey aggregations along tidal fronts. Brian W. Kot, Univ. of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), Master thesis.
  • 2004: GIS analysis of blue whale habitat in the St. Lawrence estuary. Dan Zeh, Univ. of Texas at Clear Lake, Bachelor project.

Financial support for our projects was provided by: