Brion23 - EcoMaris in Shark Territory

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With Brion23, which will take place from August 18 to September 1, we are proud to launch a new research expedition on sharks of the St. Lawrence.

Instigated last year in the midst of storm Fiona, ‘Brion’ expeditions are led jointly with the St. Lawrence Shark Observatory. ORS is the first Canadian NGO to scientifically study endangered sharks that evolve by our coasts - notably around Brion Island, off the Magdalen Islands, where the duration of their migration could be influenced by climate change.

With equipment that includes aerial drones and hydrophones, Brion expeditions further research on sharks around the island. The crew leading the 2023 edition hopes to collaborate with local fishermen and the Mi'kmaq First Nation, to better understand the historical presence of white sharks in the Gulf - where younger specimens seem to take up seal hunting.

Our Executive Director, Simon Paquin, believes that “it’s an opportunity for our organization to go beyond reintegration programs that have built our reputation. By providing ORS with a boat, ship and film crews as well as a platform for broadcast, we solidify our scientific mission of helping people understand the importance of the St. Lawrence and the global ocean. Sharks have a lot to teach us on the matter. Understanding them means appreciating them”.


Gallant as Director of Scientific Content

Simon Paquin is also pleased to announce that ORS President Jeffrey Gallant is appointed Director of Scientific Content at EcoMaris. A diver since his teens, Gallant is no stranger to marine research. Recipient of the Diamond Jubilee Medal, he has been active all over the world, from the African continent to Greenland to Romania. His work has caught the eye of the Discovery ChannelNational Geographic and other major outlets on several occasions.

Jeffrey Gallant's nomination coincides with the development of new EcoMaris programs that will be unveiled in the coming months. Their goal is to raise public awareness of conservation issues, particularly those surrounding St. Lawrence sharks.

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From left to right : Jeffrey Gallant - Director of Scientific Content, Thomas Leszkiewicz - searcher at ORS and Simon Paquin - Executive Director of EcoMaris

A Predator Returns

The great white shark seems to benefit from its status as a protected species, but also from an increase in seal populations within the Gulf of St. Lawrence. “Reports around the Magdalen Islands are on the rise,” says Gallant. One explanation could be peer competition in the North Atlantic, as a growing population disperses to avoid conflict.”

Despite their popularity, white sharks remain a mystery. And they continue to inspire fear in those who don’t know them. “To prevent sharks from associating humans with food, we need to limit interactions. We must avoid activity that can lead to conditioning, and discourage tourism that is not ‘responsible’. Our short-term expeditions are purely scientific, and they include tagging specimens without capturing or handling them.”

With Brion23, Gallant hopes to facilitate future tagging by developing non-invasive methods with fellow scientists who study sharks in Atlantic Canada, New England and Mexico. These specialists could even join EcoMaris in the context of international expeditions.

Jeffrey Gallant explains that the main purpose behind Brion expeditions is to “better understand white sharks of the Gulf to ensure their protection - whether by estimating their numbers, creating a database, studying their migration or documenting predation on seals - like we did last year. We also want to provide the public with a better understanding of sharks through accessible media productions."

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Brion23 - To follow the expedition, visit our website and official channels which will broadcast videos as of departure. A conference will also be held in the fall, on an EcoMaris boat stationed in the Port of Montreal. Jeffrey Gallant will present findings relating to the expedition.

ORS - The St. Lawrence Shark Observatory, also known as ORS, is the first NGO and charity dedicated to sharks in Canada. Following three years of unparalleled exploration, the Observatory was founded in 2003 under the GEERG acronym. Its expeditions led to the first cage dives with pelagic sharks in Canada (2000) and the first natural encounters with Greenland sharks (2003). Today, research and conservation activities at ORS cover all shark and ray species that are present in the St. Lawrence, the Saguenay Fjord, the Arctic Ocean and Atlantic Canada.

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