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VIU aquaculture department to study effects of heat on sea life

VIU receives $549K for temperature fluctuation research
Spencer Russell, a Vancouver Island University fisheries and aquaculture professor, is one of three researchers studying how extreme temperature events are affecting the health of fish and shellfish. (Submitted photo)

Vancouver Island University researchers are examining the effects of warm oceans on fish and shellfish.

With climate change causing impacts such as heat waves in marine environments, three professors from VIU’s department of fisheries and aquaculture, Spencer Russell, Timothy Green and Dan Baker, are studying how extreme increases and decreases in temperature impact the health of marine animals, notes a VIU press release.

Green will examine how marine heat waves can cause farmed oysters to die and Baker will look at how heat waves affect how wild and farmed salmon and sturgeon respond and adapt to hotter temperature in the summer. Russell will look at “the impact on gill health of farmed salmonids,” the press release said.

Research is made possible by $549,000 in grant money from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and B.C. Knowledge Development Fund, the press release said, and will be used by researchers to “design research projects that aim to understand how extreme temperature fluctuations impact farmed finfish and shellfish.”

In the press release, the three lead researchers said that many studies have focused on higher average seawater temperatures due to climate change, but that approach may limit understanding of how climate variation can impact seafood security, both now and in the future.

The VIU projects will look at how marine heat waves, which are periods of abnormally warm seawater events that can last for a few days to months, impact the health of farmed finfish and shellfish, said the press release. These events are expected to increase in frequency in the future because of the effects of climate change. While the research focuses on aquaculture environments, it will also provide information on how different species could adapt to climate change, it said.

Research will take place at VIU’s Centre for Shellfish Research, International Centre for Sturgeon Studies and Centre for Innovation in Fish Health, the press release said.

READ ALSO: VIU’s station considered for regional seafood innovation centre

READ ALSO: Vancouver Island local governments consult with experts on climate change planning

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