Institute of Ocean Sciences

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Sidney, British Columbia
What the facility does

Research on oceanography, including fisheries and ocean research, environmental science and hydrography

Areas of expertise

Located west of Sidney on Vancouver Island on a 70-acre site, the Institute of Ocean Sciences (IOS) is one of Canada’s largest marine institutes. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)’s Pacific Ocean Sciences Division and Pacific Region of the Canadian Hydrographic Service operate out of IOS.

IOS has become a major player in efforts to restore and manage coastal ecosystems, and produces more than 20 per cent of Canada’s nautical charts. Studies range from the effects of global warming on marine ecosystems, to contaminants in Arctic ice, tracking ‘red tide’ in shellfish, the nature of oil spills, and even predictions on where and when a tsunami will strike.

Research and monitoring activities within the Ocean Sciences Division (OSD) are focused on the Pacific Ocean and Western Arctic. These activities provide the foundation for assessing the effect of changes in ocean conditions on marine ecosystems, understanding the role of the ocean in the global climate system, and for mitigating the impacts of natural human-induced hazards.

The Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) specializes in the measurement of ocean depths and survey through the use of multi-beam echo sounders and boat based laser scanners. CHS monitors a network of tide gauges to provide predictions of tides and currents and tsunami monitoring.

Research services

The Ocean Services Division (OSD) provides assessments, predictions, forecasts, maps and data on variability and changes in ocean conditions that may affect fish and marine activities. It also measures water properties (e.g. temperature, salinity, dissolved gases, nutrients) and maintains oceanographic equipment (e.g. moorings and gliders) and ship-based monitoring programs. The Division also develops and uses biological, analytical and acoustic methods and instrumentation to study primary productivity and plankton ecology, ocean carbon/climate chemistry, marine biogeochemistry, and the distribution of fish and benthic organisms in marine sensitive areas.

The Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) is developing a continuous vertical datum model and tool to convert chart datum to other references. CHS provides bathymetric and other data by request and varying resolutions.

Sectors of application
  • Construction (including building, civil engineering, specialty trades)
  • Fisheries and aquaculture
  • Ocean industries
  • Professional and technical services (including legal services, architecture, engineering)
  • Transportation
Multi-beam echo soundersMeasurement of ocean depths, bottom classification.
Laser ScannersAccurate survey of coastline.
Autonomous Hydrographic Surface Vehicle (AHSV)Uncrewed survey by battery-powered craft.
Ocean GlidersAutonomous underwater ocean profilers (temperature, salinity, etc.) including real time communications.
Smart buoyAutonomous surface and profiling fixed monitoring stations (temperature, salinity, etc.) including real time communications.
Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS)Low detection limit metal concentration analyzer.
Ultraperformance liquid chromatography mass spectrometer (UPLC-MS)Low detection water-soluble chemical analyzer (e.g. pesticides, biotoxins, metabolites, etc.)
Small vessel with scientific winchSmall near shore vessel and sampling equipment. For plankton tows, sediment grabs, CTD deployments.
Automated Hydrographic Surface Vehicles (4K video)
Institute of Ocean Sciences promotional video
Hands-on Science Education (Science in schools)