As a kid, Samuel Turgeon spent a lot of time hiking and camping in national parks. Today, it seems only fitting that he contributes to the conservation of natural spaces. Originally from Québec City, Samuel is now based in Tadoussac, where he oversees monitoring programs in the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park. It is in this capacity that he supervises data collection and analysis and develops monitoring indicators that guide park management: maritime traffic, hydroacoustic surveys, large rorqual monitoring, whale-watching activities, etc.
Combining cartography and oceanography
“When I graduated high school, I hadn’t yet figured out what I wanted to do,” confides the researcher. I had a little book that featured a host of professions, and I remember that there were two that I found particularly appealing: cartographer and oceanographer. As I didn’t really have a science profile, I completed a technical program in geomatics and then worked for a few weeks on mapping telecommunications towers. But Samuel found the subject “really boring”. So he goes back to school and begins a bachelor’s in geography and the environment at the Université de Montréal.
He quickly lands a gig as assistant researcher for the 3MTSim (Marine Mammal and Marine Traffic Simulator) simulator project, where he meets Clément Chion, Robert Michaud and Cristiane C. de Albuquerque Martins, in addition to discovering the incredible wealth of the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park. He sees the project as an opportunity to reconcile his various professional aspirations. From a research assistant position with Nadia Ménard to a master’s student and then to freelance analyst, Samuel Turgeon ultimately joins Parks Canada in 2013 as a resource management technician.
Responsible for creating analytical frameworks, supervising teams of technicians and reporting, Samuel now spends more of his time in front of the computer, but still manages to keep one foot in the field. “I love the diversity of subjects I work on and the partners with whom I interact. No two days are the same. I might start the morning analyzing harbour seal data, meet with stakeholders in the maritime industry at lunchtime, and then spend the afternoon talking about seabirds.”
His favourite subject is monitoring pelagic prey abundance through hydroacoustic surveys. Initiated in 2009, the monitoring tracks the type of prey as well as the location and density of fish or krill schools in the water column. “For example, we can identify and quantify pelagic prey that attract and retain marine mammals in different parts of the Marine Park,” explains Samuel Turgeon. It’s really an interesting research topic that I would love to explore even further.”