• Bedford Institute of Oceanography
  • 1 Challenger Drive
  • P.O. Box 1006
  • Dartmouth, NS
  • Canada, B2Y 4A2
  • Telephone: 902-426-2373

BIO is a modern oceanographic research facility, established in 1962 by the Federal Government of Canada (the former Department of Mines and Technical Surveys, now Natural Resources Canada) and is located on the shores of the Bedford Basin in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Over the last 45 years it has grown to become Canada's largest centre for ocean research. The Institute performs targeted research, mandated by the Canadian government, to provide ‘peer reviewed’ advice and support to government decision making on a broad range of ocean issues, including sovereignty, safety and security, environmental protection, the health of the oceans, safe and accessible waterways, the sustainable use of natural resources (fisheries, minerals, oil & gas) and the integrated management of large ocean management areas.

BIO houses over 600 researchers, engineers, technicians, natural resource and environmental managers, and support staff from a variety of different disciplines. Currently, four federal departments are located at BIO: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), Environment Canada (EC), and the Department of National Defence (DND). The facilities are all managed by Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC).

DFO has a number of different Branches working at BIO. The largest is the Science Branch with the Regional Director of Science also being the Director of BIO. There are five Science Divisions at BIO: the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS); Ocean Sciences; Population Ecology; Ecosystem Research; and Strategic Planning, Advisory Activities and Outreach. The Oceans, Habitat and the Species at Risk Branch has all 3 of its divisions located at BIO. The Informatics Branch provides all appropriate computing services as well as being a national centre of long term data storage and handling. The Fisheries and Aquaculture Management Branch is represented at BIO with the Regional Aquaculture Coordination Office. The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) has a technical services section at BIO which provides a broad base of support to our fleet of ocean and coastal vessels. The CCG will soon have a much larger presence at BIO with the future relocation of the CCG Dartmouth Base from its present waterfront location on Parker Street to BIO.

NRCan is represented by the Geological Survey of Canada (Atlantic). It has become Canada's principal marine geo-science facility and its scientific research expertise focuses on marine and petroleum geology, geophysics, geochemistry and geo-technology. GSC Atlantic is the source of integrated knowledge and advice on Canada's coastal and offshore underwater landmass and is also leading the national program for UNCLOS.

DND supports its ocean surveillance and security activities through the Maritime Forces Atlantic's Route Survey Office located at BIO. In co-operation with CHS and GSC Atlantic, multi-beam surveys of areas of the sea floor of specific interest to DND are conducted, analyzed, mapped and charted.

The Marine Water Quality Monitoring Unit of Environment Canada conducts sanitary and water quality surveys and analyzes the samples at the microbiology laboratory at BIO in support of the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program.

The BIO Myth

The bright blue building floating in Bedford Basin adjacent to the Bedford Highway is not BIO. It is, in actual fact, the DRDC Atlantic Acoustic Calibration Barge.

DRDC Atlantic Acoustic Barge
DRDC Atlantic Acoustic Barge

The DRDC Atlantic Acoustic Calibration Barge is located in Bedford Basin, about 5 km by water from DRDC Atlantic. The main function of the Barge is to conduct acoustic calibrations of sonar transducers such as hydrophones and projectors, in a free field salt water environment. It is also used to test and evaluate many other types of sea-going scientific apparatus and military equipment. The chief customers are DRDC Atlantic defence scientists, the Canadian Forces, other government departments and Canadian industry. It is equipped like a combined floating laboratory and workshop. The 300 tonne barge is 36 metres long by 17 metres wide. The main working area is covered by an enclosed heated deckhouse 30 metres by 13 metres, which allows calibrations to be performed year round. The hull contains a rectangular well 18 metres by 9 metres through which equipment under test can be lowered into the water. The barge is moored 1 kilometre from the nearest shore in a water depth of 42 metres. A 10 tonne crane is fitted to the outside deck for unloading equipment and a 5 tonne travelling crane is used to position apparatus over the well. Rotating stations with capacities up to 7 tonnes are available to position sonar transducers at any required orientation and depth.