Field Work

Marine Natural Products Lab expeditions

San Salvador 2014

Examining samples in the wet lab
Gorgonian growth rate study. 
Demonstration of water pumping action of a sponge. 


Turkey 2012

The town of Kas, Turkey – the departure location of one of our dive trips.
Brad – collecting in the murky waters.  
Bulent (our local guide and sponge taxonomist) with Brad on hotel balcony (= temporary lab).
Brad processing samples in hotel room.  


San Salvador 2012

The group visiting the Columbus monument.
A picnic in the back of one of the Gerace trucks!
Setting up a gorgonian Aquaculture project.


2011 Expedition to Iqaluit, Nunavut

Exploring Canada's Arctic as a Source of Novel Natural Products

Brad Haltli, September 2011

Canada's arctic is a cold and forbidding region of the world.  This diverse area is often thought to be relatively devoid of biolgical diversity and most people associate the arctic with relatively few large mammals such as polar bears, muskox, seals, walruses and whales, as well as a variety of migratory bird species.  This view of the arctic largely ignores microbial diversity.  Several studies in the arctic have examined general bacterial diversity of tundra and the diversity observed has rivalled that of tropical soils.  The majority of the studies conducted to date have been concerned with bacterial diveristy as it relates to climate change and bioremediation of contaminated soils.  The aim of the 2011 expedition to Iqaluit was to obtain a number of terrestrial soil and intertidal marine sediment samples so that we could assess microbial diversity of this arctic region  from a natural product discovery perspective.  We will characterize the microbial diversity using a combination of culture independent and culture dependent methodologies.  We will subsequently evaluate bacteria cultured from these samples for the ability to produce novel bioactive metabolites.  Our hypothesis is that novel bacterial and fungal biodiversity will be discovered from arctic samples which will coincided with the production of novel natural products from these unique microbes.  

Below are some photographs that document this expedition:

 Iqaluit airport.

Iqualuit, view from western shore of Frobisher Bay.

View looking over Iqaluit into Frobisher Bay.

Nunavut Arctic College Old Residence - my home for a week.

Nunavut Research Institute - research facilities.

Nunavut Research Institute Lab - very nice labs!!  Many thanks to the faculty and staff at the Nunavut Research Institute for their help throughout the duration of the collecting expedition.

My trusty steed for the week - a Yamaha Big Bear ATV.

Self portrait of Brad Haltli collecting samples in the tundra.

Tarr Inlet south east of Iqaluit at extreme low tide.

Inlet on west side of Frobisher Bay at extreme low tide.

Silvia Grinnell River in Silvia Grinnell Territorial Park.

View from Qaummaarviit Territorial Park into Frobisher Bay.

Iceberg in Frobisher Bay.

Collecting site south of Iqaluit.

Collecting site south of Iqaluit at low tide.

Sediment sample.

Collecting site on the tundra.


Pond on the Tundra.

Pond scum.

Arctic Cotton Grass in foreground. 

Canadian Eskimo Dogs.

The 4 Corners - cross roads in the heart of Iqaluit.

Polar bear.....luckily the closest I came to seeing a polar bear was this stuffed specimen at a museum in Iqaluit .

Tundra surrounding Iqaluit from the airplane.

Silvia Grinnell River from the airplane.

Highlands west of Iqaluit.....snow on September 3rd!!!

2010 Expedition to Barbados

Februrary 2010 Trip to Barbados

Grad students Jennifer Cuillerier, Rebecca Pike, and Beth Pearce accompanied Brad Haltli, and Russ Kerr for a week in Barbados to conduct field work. We were joined by two graduate students in Dr. Tinto’s group – Ann Seebaran and Troy Cumberbatch. Collections of invertebrates were conducted for the purpose of isolating microbes for drug discovery projects, and Jenn, Becca and Beth conducted field work for a Marine Natural Products course.

Beach across the road from rental house
Becca, Russ, Jenn and Winston
Becca, Beth and Jenn
Ann, Troy and Jenn outside the dive shop
Becca and Jenn getting ready for a dive
Jenn, Russ, Ann, Troy, Brad, Becca and Beth
Renatta Goodridge, local sponge
taxonomist (UWI) joined us for a few dives.
One of the colourful dive boats that we used.


2009 Expedition to Barbados

November 2009 Collection Trip to Barbados

Fabrice Berrue, David Overy and Russ Kerr traveled to Barbados to initiate a collaboration with Dr. Winston Tinto (University of West Indies, Cave Hill). Collections were focused on the south coast of the island using the services of EcoDivers.

The goals of the trip were to collect invertebrates and algae and also to isolate microbes from selected invertebrate samples.

Dr. Motra-Meira’s lab (UWI) – graciously made available to us for sample processing and microbiology work
Fabrice – ready to dive!
Fabrice and David collecting


2009 Expedition to Newfoundland


Newfoundland August 2009

During the summer of 2009 we enjoyed various collecting trips to regions of PEI, the Bay of Fundy and Newfoundland. 
Bonne Bay Marine Station provided an ideal base for our first trip to Newfoundland. Collections included invertebrates,
algae and sediment as components of our growing drug discovery program

Ian and Gavin – our young helpers for the week
Lots of great lab space at Bonne Bay


2008 Expedition to the Bahamas

Our 2008 Collection Trip to the Bahamas
In August, we visited the Gerace Research Centre located on San Salvador in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.  This was a highly successful trip with samples collected from a variety of habitats including reefs, caves and marine lakes.  Samples are now being processed for our drug discovery program and microbiological studies. 
An aereal view of the airport on San Salvador - one of our dive sites is directly off shore from the runway.   
The Gerace cafeteria. 
Our dive boat for the week.
Dovi, Veronica, Fabrice, Doug and Russ
Stacey collecting
Off on the search...
Stacey meets a very friendly grouper known by the locals as Sponge Bob!
A specimen of Pseudopterogorgia elisabethae in the ziploc bag ready for micro work back at the lab.
Collecting a gorgonian for microbiological work. 
Brad and Fabrice collecting Erythropodium.
Brad - off to the lab.
Veronica and Brad processing samples for microbiological work.
 Fabrice examining a gorgonian. 


2007 Expedition to the Florida Keys

The trip to Florida was largely directed at collections of invertebrates and algae for a drug discovery program. Rather than staying on a research vessel as we have done in the past, this trip involved small boats with hotel rooms sometimes being used as a lab! Collections were made off Boca Raton, Key Largo, Marathon Key and Summerland Key. At Summerland Key, we stayed at the Mote Tropical Research Lab which is an ideal location for such field work