Fisheries and Aquatic Studies

Fisheries and Aquatic Science

Fisheries and aquatic sciences are major disciplines for our core staff. As a result, we have invested heavily to make sure we have the right gear to carry out fisheries studies in all conditions that we encounter across Ontario and the rest of central Canada. We believe in using the right gear for each job. We are outfitted to complete limnological (water quality) studies, sediment quality surveys, and boat electrofishing, among other services.

Limnological Studies
Water quality surveys are a major discipline area for us. We routinely monitor the quality of effluent originating from municipal stormwater management ponds for various commercial companies and municipal agencies. Our staff are trained in the collection and handling of water quality samples including total suspended solids, turbidity, nutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen), metals and organic contaminants. We have automated water sampling devices (pumps, pictured below) that can be set to collect integrated 24-hr water/effluent samples.

We have our own equipment for monitoring turbidity and suspended solids. We can therefore provide for our clients very rapid turn-around results on these two analytes to inform construction sites as to the performance of sediment and erosion controls.

Setting the automated water sampler

Sediment Quality Studies
We do a lot of work studying benthic invertebrate communities. Because sediments are so strongly linked to the health of benthos, we routinely collect and handle sediment samples that are subsequently analyzed for total organic carbon, grain size, metals, and organic contaminants.

We have a full set of grain size sieves and a shaker, and routinely process our own grain size analyses. We complete our own sediment grain-size analyses when the sediment data are to relate to benthic community assemblages.

We recently designed and had constructed a glove box that was used to process cored sediments from a lake in northern Saskatchewan. We needed to keep the sediments in an anoxic environment (oxygen free), so that they could subsequently be analyzed for acid volatile sulphide. Sediments that were brought to surface were capped while in the plastic core tube. Sediments were then extruded from the core tube while inside the air-tight, nitrogen-filled glove box.
The photo-collage below shows the glove box on site, with nitrogen cylinder used to keep the box full of N2 gas, the oxygen sensor used to confirm that the box was oxygen free, and a sediment sample being extruded while inside the box, and sediment being sliced off into an amber glass jar.

Glove box and sediment slicing in action

For this picture, we recommend you click on the photo to get a larger image!

Boat Electrofisher
A key of equipment for us is our boat electrofisher, pictured below. We built the boat in 2013 in order to improve our approaches to characterizing fish communities in large river systems. Our 17′ Jon Boat is equipped with a 40 HP 4-stroke, which gives it lots of power. The boat fully equips with lights for fishing at night (often the best time), and live wells. The open deck of the Jon Boat gives us lots of working room. The boat electofisher has been used extensively in the Sudbury area where we have surveyed spawning Walleye, and Lake Sturgeon. The boat has also been used to electrofish parts of the St. Lawrence River to characterize fish communities associated with fish habitat compensation, as well as for species at risk (Sand Darter).

Kilgour E-fisher boat on the St. Lawrence River

Kilgour boat E-fisher

All lakes and rivers are different, and most of our projects are ‘one-off’ studies that require a unique approach to collecting data. We were recently the only company to respond to a commercial ‘call’ by Fisheries and Oceans Canada to collect Deep-water Sculpin from five lakes north of Gatineau. This species lives in upwards of 300′ of water, and so required an unconventional approach to sampling / collection. We constructed, in our own warehouse, custom deep-water ‘minnow’ traps to use in the study. Traps are shown below. We welded steel frames, and wrapped the frames in steel mesh. Traps were variously baited and set in the deepest basins of the selected study lakes. We ended up successfully catching not only Deep-water Sculpin but also Spoonhead and Slimy Sculpin, as well as numerous Burbot in the study lakes.

Sculpin collected in > 80 m of water in one of the Gatineau lakes