Mary-Lynn Dickson

Director, UNCLOS Program
Natural Resources Canada


If our outer limits are accepted, we figure we could add about 2 million square kilometres more to Canada which is about the size of three, three additional prairie provinces. I’m the director of UNCLOS and I work with teams of scientists and technicians. I oversee the day to day management of the program for the Geological Survey of Canada. I undertake strategic planning, cruise planning and my overall responsibility is to make sure that Canada submits its claim for the Arctic Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean to the Commission on the limits of the continental shelves.

I think the best part of my job for me is the opportunity to go to sea. To work with my technicians, geologists, scientists, to collect data in the arctic ocean. My background is as a sea going oceanographer and to be able to go and work with a team after months and months of planning these cruises is a thrill. The team that we have assembled, technicians, scientists are among the best in the world. Our team works extremely well. We’ve had very little down time due to equipment failure or breakage. And you have to understand we are towing gear through water that is ice covered. Chunks of ice that are 3 and 4 metres thick and we are able to deploy that gear, tow it and then recover it without any breakage at all. The Arctic Ocean is the world’s smallest ocean but it is certainly the least studied. So all the data we collect is new. No one has probably ever seen it before.

The 2015 Canadian Polar Expedition was led by Dr. Sonya Dehler. She was our chief scientist. She was responsible for the overall project objectives being met while at sea. I would say that she was probably the best chief scientist I have sailed with in my career.

Being on the Louis St. Laurent, Canada’s premier heavy duty ice breaker is a thrill. Seeing that ship go through ice that is 3, 4 metres thick like a hot knife through butter is a thrill. The work that we are doing builds on the legacy of the Geological Survey of Canada. One quote that I read that is my favourite is that, “Throughout its history the Geological Survey of Canada has combined practicality with scientific excellence.” I think that the work we are doing builds on that history and my hope is that our legacy will go forward inspiring future generations of marine geoscientists.


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