The gem of Bedford is its basin and from wartime convoys to present-day container ships, it has connected the community to the world. Currently, one of the basin’s most high-profile tenants is the Bedford Institute of Oceanography.
Tom Sephton, division manager for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans at BIO, says the institute is currently busy mapping the ocean floor in the far north to bolster Canada’s international claim to the seabed. Expeditions are sent out from the basin institute and the data they collect is studied at BIO. Its work will be submitted to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“We’re working with the Danes, the Americans, and the Russians, who have already submitted their claim to the world court,” he says.
It’s difficult work because of the north’s unpredictable weather. “This year, because of melting and open water, there was extreme fog,” Sephton says, which slowed operations.
BIO, which is headquartered on the Dartmouth side of the basin, has more than 600 researchers, technicians, natural resource and environmental managers and support staff working in a range of fields. It also houses offices for the departments of fisheries and oceans, natural resources, Environment Canada and national defence.
It's also welcoming more residents, as the Coast Guard is leaving its Parker Street base to move into BIO. Plans are that by 2012, the Coast Guard will have a new building on the BIO grounds that will merge its current three locations.
“It’s great, because now we have all of the vessels in one spot,” Sephton says.
BIO was established as an oceanographic research facility by the federal government in 1962 and has operated on the basin shores ever since, growing into Canada’s largest centre for ocean research.
Parts of it are open to the public and its Sea Pavilion has touch tanks with lobsters, crabs, starfish, sea urchins and sea cucumbers. Visitors can also see oysters, salmon, skates and several other aquatic animals.