News | February 18, 2014

International Scientist Dr. Peter Ross To Lead New Ocean Pollution Science Program At Vancouver Aquarium

Pollution in the Pacific Ocean, and effects on its inhabitants, becomes the focus of much-needed scrutiny with the launch of Vancouver Aquarium's bold new Ocean Pollution Science Program, announced Feb. 18.

The expansive program—which will conduct critically important scientific research on ocean pollution sources and consequences—will be led by Dr. Peter S. Ross, a world expert in the field of ocean pollution and the only marine mammal toxicologist in Canada. He joined Vancouver Aquarium on Jan. 28, 2014 as senior scientist and founding director of the new program. Dr. Ross has more than 25 years of experience in marine pollution research; among a long list of his awards and honours is the 2012 Murray A. Newman Award for Significant Achievement in Aquatic Research from the Vancouver Aquarium. Until recently, he was a research scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as part of a nationwide team of pollution specialists.

"Threats to ocean health include urban and industrial effluents, runoff from forestry and agriculture, oil and gas shipping and exploration, plastics and debris, and climate change," says Dr. Ross. "Understanding the nature and extent of these threats provide a crucial basis for policies and practices that will protect ocean health for future generations. Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Pollution Science Program will conduct international-caliber scientific research on ocean pollution—and provide comprehensive and authoritative information for individuals, communities and countries." The Program will help inform partners and stakeholders in the science, government and private sectors on the health of our oceans. 

"This is an area of study that must not be overlooked," says Dr. Ross. "By launching this program, we're meeting immediate scientific, conservation and education needs. The Aquarium is stepping up to the plate on an issue that is often vexing and complex but also worthy of dedicated research."

This vital research will take place on the ocean and in the laboratory. State-of-the-art equipment for measuring and assessing the impacts of ocean pollutants will be housed in a new laboratory at Vancouver Aquarium. The program will launch new studies and build on past research led by Dr. Ross, including:

  • Marine mammals as sentinels of ocean pollution
  • Clean seafoods for coastal communities
  • Marine debris and microplastics
  • Hydrocarbons in the coastal environment
  • Emerging pollutant concerns

"The Ocean Pollution Science Program is part of Vancouver Aquarium's commitment to understanding and managing our coastal environments, and adds depth to the Aquarium's current slate of research programs," says Dr. John Nightingale, Vancouver Aquarium president and CEO. "The program will benefit from active collaborations with those programs, including the Aquarium's Marine Mammal Research Program and Howe Sound Research Program. It will also enable us to further examine the impacts of ocean pollutants and provide recommendations to the wider scientific community on how to protect our waterways."

SOURCE: Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre