Tracking contaminants

It was while tracking down contaminants that Émilien Pelletier ended up studying whales. Émilien Pelletier was born in Quebec’s Bas-Saint-Laurent region. He earned a BSc degree in chemistry at the Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR) before turning to the sea and completing a MSc degree in oceanography at the same institution. For his PhD, he moved to Montreal to study organometal chemistry at McGill University. He then moved back to Rimouski to begin his career in environmental chemistry at INRS-Océanologie. In 1998, he actively contributed to the creation of the Institut des sciences de la mer de Rimouski (ISMER) and in 2001 he obtained the Canada Research Chair in molecular ecotoxicology applied to coastal environments. Professor Pelletier retired in December 2015 but has remained active in the authoring of articles and papers on marine environmental science.

His research has focused on the bioavailability and trophic transfer of contaminants and their effects on predators. Initially, he took an interest in mercury in the Saguenay and oil spills in the St. Lawrence. His latest areas of focus are metallic and organic nanoparticles in coastal waters. He has recently published articles on the environmental behaviour and toxicity of silver nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes. He is interested in the presence of microplastics in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence and the potential effects on marine ecosystems that are already being hit hard by climate change.

For 20 years, Professor Pelletier has been actively participating in marine mammal protection through his involvement in the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park as a member of the Marine Park Coordination Committee, a collaborative body that brings together the main marine mammal conservation organizations in the region, the Essipit community and park managers. He has been chairing this committee for about 10 years and made a significant contribution to the June 2018 issue of the Canadian Naturalist, a special issue focused exclusively on research and management work within the Marine Park.

Latest update: August 2019