Freshwater Research and Scientific Communications Course
Crew size: 14
Blogger of the Day: Jimmy Truong
MSc candidate and intrepid Tree Planter
Jimmy Truong joined us on board last Saturday, only 4 days after he returned from 2 months tree planting in Northeastern Ontario.
This fall, Jimmy will be returning to the University of Toronto to begin his Masters of Science program, under the advisement of fellow Sea Dragon crew member, Paul Helm.
Read today’s blog to find out how Jimmy will use his experience aboard Sea Dragon to supplement his future research on Great Lakes contaminants.
The Montreal – Toronto expedition is unique in that it has 3 renowned fresh water scientists onboard who have enriched the experience for us.
Today we learned about the “industrial heritage” of the Great Lakes – Saint Lawrence Waterway, which is a PC way of saying that these waters were once, and still are the waste yard for human progress and excess. Dr. Bill Edwards gave us a brief history today about the formation of the Great Lakes, touching on their misuse and maltreatment after the creation of the canals and locks and the use of pesticides and fertilizers.
These waterways were crucial in the division of British and American territories during the war of 1812, and important for the economic development of this region. The region was once full of shipbuilding, fishing and manufacturing industries that left their traces in the contaminant profiles of the lakes.
What stuck with me from this talk was what we learned about the topography of the lakes. All the water from the higher Great Lakes drain in to the St. Lawrence and into the Atlantic Ocean. This was impressionable because Lake Ontario, having the lowest elevation, receives drainage from all the other lakes through Niagara Falls. This means that in addition to all the runoff that goes into Lake Ontario, there are additional contaminants from the drainage of the other lakes, which makes Lake Ontario one the dirtiest of the Great Lakes. This was troubling to learn for me because I’ve lived along the shore of Lake Ontario my whole life and have swam in its waters since I was a child.
This brief lecture brought me back to why I hopped on board the Sea Dragon. I came here to learn more about Dr. Mason’s sampling techniques for micro plastics, but also to collect my own samples to do preliminary tests on Organophosphate Flame Retardants (OPFRs) in the Great Lakes.
Organophosphates have been a major concern in the past when they were used as pesticides and leeched into our waterways. They are currently being used as a replacement for recently banned and controlled Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDE) flame retardants.