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WSP completes field work for netting locations, awaits results of soil testing

  • November 15 2023
  • By Luke Ettinger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

SHERBROOKE — The Whale Sanctuary Project (WSP) completed field work on Nov. 5 and 6 to determine precise locations for its whale enclosure, as the team awaits the results of soil testing.

Charles Vinick, executive director of the WSP, said the work last week was focused on locations of eelgrass and rocky outcroppings. He said a team from Dalhousie University used an underwater drone and camera throughout the planned enclosure area.

The WSP plans to net off 100 acres of a 201-acre lease in Port Hilford Bay, also known as Indian Harbour. The net will be anchored on land at Rocky Point at one end and at the tip of Barachois Island. The sanctuary is expected to care for animals being retired from marine entertainment parks and aquariums.

“[Eelgrass] is dense in a couple of areas. That’s actually a good thing in terms of the viability of the environment,” said Vinick in an interview with The Journal on Nov. 9.

He said the data will help the project precisely map net locations around eelgrass and rocks.

The work is happening while the WSP awaits the results of its third environmental assessment, which is expected before the end of 2023.

“We don’t have them yet,” said Vinick of the pending results.

He said the next step will be a site assessment to determine mitigation procedures due to previous mining in the area. The work includes analysis of soils on sanctuary land as well as submerged soil down to 25 centimetres.

Vincik anticipates the land mitigation work won’t affect the project’s timeline.

“I don’t know that yet,”’ he said when questioned about any possibility of underwater mitigation and any effect that could have on the timeline.

The project was originally targeted to be finished this year, but now the timeline has a completion date of late 2024 or early 2025.