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 e-newsletter January 2019
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Introduction from the PI

As this is our first newsletter in 2019, I would like to take this I opportunity to wish all our personnel, partners, sponsors, and supporters an excellent New Year 2019!

Looking back for a moment, 2018 was an exciting year for us. We have started doing the work, having put in place an excellent team, fully capable to deliver on the challenges before us. We have also put together the governance structure and the committees that advise us on how to stay on track. Their members share with us their experience in ocean sciences and data science. We are very grateful to them for their time and commitment to MERIDIAN. In 2018 we were able to make significant progress towards the goals of the project, especially in relation to the Soundscape Atlas and the Data Management Infrastructure subproject. We were also able to secure the support from Fisheries and Oceans Canada under the Ocean and Freshwater Science Contribution program.

That support will allow us to fulfil the necessary intra-project networking, in the form of focused workshops with our partners, spread geographically from coast to coast. Following a successful workshop in November 2018 in Montreal where we made great progress on the Soundscape Atlas subproject, we are now planning a workshop on Deep Learning from Underwater Acoustic Data in April in Québec City. Later in the year there will be more workshops including one on the application of Machine Learning to the development and benchmarking of marine mammal detectors and classifiers with Deep Learning methods, and acoustic Big Data management.

We will also be launching the Data Discovery Service in the coming months, and the first data analysis tools will be made available in the near future. Last but not least, we will start working on the continuation of MERIDIAN beyond the end of 2020. So – stay tune for more exciting news from MERIDIAN as 2019 progresses! 

A black-and-white photograph of Dr. Stan Matwin.  Stan Matwin, MERIDIAN PI

News, news, and more news

Fabio Frazao Bug Zoo Victoria, BCMERIDIAN on the road

A few of our Dalhousie-based MERIDIAN team members had the opportunity to travel to the Acoustics Week in Canada 2018, a joint meeting between the Acoustical Society of America and the Canadian Acoustical Association, that was held in Victoria, British Columbia, between the 5th and 9th of November 2018.

In addition to getting a terrific overview of the latest developments in topics including animal bioacoustics, acoustical oceanography and computational acoustics, we used the opportunity to meet with our local UVic-MERIDIAN team members to discuss ongoing projects and brainstorm about future initiatives in a casual setting.

Acoustics Week in Canada 2018 provided a great platform to network and connect with current and potentially new collaborators from Dalhousie University, Université du Québec à Rimouski, Memorial University Newfoundland and US-based acoustics researchers, Ocean Networks Canada staff, Navy and industry representatives. As exciting, informative and busy this week at the conference may have been, we’ve still made sure to explore some of Victoria’s beautiful surroundings and meet some rather quiet ‘locals’.

Breaching Orca

Successful Fisheries and Oceans Canada proposal

MERIDIAN has been successful in its application to the Fisheries and Oceans Canada ‘Ocean and Freshwater Science Contribution Program’ and received funding for the project entitled: Big data analysis and management of Canadian marine acoustic data sets (DAMMA).
The project will run for 3 years and its main purpose is to establish direct collaborations among ocean acoustics researchers and computer scientists, as well as to foster the development of Big Data analytics, management and visualization tools for the underwater acoustic community.

The main themes that will be tackled through national in-person workshops include (A) Acoustic Big Data Management, (B) Deep learning DCL (detection, classification, localization) algorithms for the endangered 3 whale species (North Atlantic Right Whale, St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga and Southern Resident Killer Whale), (C) Deep learning algorithms to explore AIS (Automatic Identification System) vs acoustic propagation model results, and (D) Multidimensional visualization of acoustic fields from sources in the 3D basins.

The first workshop related to theme D and looking into the visualization of sound fields at different frequencies in the contextual 3D ocean basin took place in November 2018 in Montreal (for further information see News item “Notes from the Soundscape Atlas meeting in Montreal, 12 - 13 November, 2018). Currently we are planning the theme B workshop that will take place in April 2019 in Quebec City. If you would like to get involved in any of the upcoming workshops we encourage you to get in touch by writing an email to


Notes from the Soundscape Atlas workshop in Montreal, 12 - 13 November, 2018

Members from different MERIDIAN teams including Dalhousie University, Université du Québec à Rimouski, and Simon Frasier University, as well as representatives from Fisheries and Ocean Canada and the St. Lawrence Global Observatory met in Montreal, 12 - 13 November 2018, for the first workshop that has been funded through the successful ‘Ocean and Freshwater Science Contribution Program’ proposal Big data analysis and management of Canadian marine acoustic data sets (DAMMA).

The Soundscape Atlas is one of the main deliverables of the MERIDIAN initiative (and relevant to DAMMA proposal theme D ‘Multidimensional visualization of acoustic fields from sources in the 3D basins’) and will help to better illustrate and understand the interactions and impact of anthropogenic and natural noise on marine life and the propagation of sound. The Soundscape Atlas will be made available as a web-based applications to inform researchers, decision-makers and the interested public to, amongst others, improve environmental management of Canadian waters.

During the workshop different teams involved in the Soundscape Atlas project had the chance to meet in person and report on their work progress, revisit and align the scope, clarify deliverables and terminology, and generally discuss and strategize the projects roadmap.

ONC Logo

Ocean Networks Canada collaboration

Not only have we been successful in applying for the Fisheries and Ocean Canada ‘Ocean and Freshwater Science Contribution Program’ but also in our application to Ocean Networks Canada's (ONC) ‘Enhanced Observatory Science Support – 2018’ program. Our proposed project An open source, general purpose, acoustic detector and classifier based on Deep Learning will make use of a large annotated ONC data set from Barkley Canyon to extend the spatial scope and number of marine mammal species that can eventually be detected and classified with this tool. An important objective of this project is to develop a detector-classifier system that is robust with respect to interspecies bandwidth overlaps, intra-species cultural variations, temporal and spatial ambient noise variability, and temporal and spatial variability in acoustic propagation.

We will also be describing this data set in the MERIDIAN Discovery Portal and test related workflows and user experience with support of ONC’s junior staff scientist Kristen Kanes.

Overall, we at MERIDIAN are very pleased about the collaboration with ONC and hope to join forces in many future projects. 

Vimeo Video link

First Prize in ‘2018 Visualize This!’ Challenge

We are very proud to announce that our MERIDIAN team member Philippe Nazair, based at Université du Québec à Rimouski and working under the supervision of Dr. Yvan Simard, won the first prize in the ‘2018 Visualize This!’ competition hosted by WestGrid, a regional partner of Compute Canada. Philippe’s visualization features a 3D graph viewer and a map viewer that displays markers on the map and the written biographies from authors that are found in the dataset.

For more information and a video presentation of the visualization we encourage you to visit the WestGrid Github page.

A black-and-white photograph of Dr. Ines Hessler. 


  Ines Hessler, Senior Data Manager
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