A marine biologist could not find a better location to study marine ecosystems than the Bras d’Or Lakes. Their unique qualities provide unmatched research possibilities. A wide variety of habitats are found here, from shallow eel grass beds, through rocky bottoms to a trench with depths only surpassed off the continental shelf. Studies within most branches of the ecological sciences can be accommodated here.
Resident fish species such as cod, afford the opportunity to document a single population from egg to adult; such a study not being possible on the Scotian Shelf, an open system where aggregations are mostly transient and can only be quantified over periods of hours or at best, a few days.
Nowhere else in the world can biota representative of 30 degrees of latitude be found within a span of a few kilometers. These range from so-called Virginian enclave species (more at home off the southern US Atlantic coast) to Arctic relict species which do not normally occur south of latitude 64oN (now marooned in the cold depths of St. Andrews Channel since the last ice age).
Also from a practical point of view the Lakes are large enough to be reasonably representative of the outside ocean yet small enough to be sampled with little difficulty. Small boats can be used and waters are rarely too rough to conduct sampling.
One would be hard put to envision a better site for a marine laboratory.
Blog Contributor: Tim Lambert