Shelley Denny

Director of Aquatic Research and Stewardship

Around UINR Shelley Denny is known to be active in many aspects of marine biology, but ask anyone what Shelley is most passionate about in her work and the answer is EEL! The eel represents to Shelley much more than a creature to be studied, she recognizes its spiritual, cultural and historical signifiance to the Mi’kmaq people.

It’s no wonder that Shelley ended up working with the inhabitants of the Bras d’Or Lakes–both the creatures and the people! Her first job as a student was to sample lobster and snow crab and she continued her studies to gain a Masters of Science in Biology in fisheries ecology from St. F.X. University. Her continuing education includes courses in open-water scuba diving. An avid reader, Shelley is a self-confessed Student-of-Life and listens to the voice of Mother Earth and the teachings of our Elders. Shelley learns by listening to people in the communities she serves.

“There are so many things that I find rewarding. I am passionate about the Bras d’Or Lakes and all she nourishes. I really enjoy working with our communities. When we open ourselves to the communities, we open ourselves to valuable teachings. These teachings give me direction for my role at UINR.”

You could break down the work Shelley does at UINR into three areas:

  • Research– “We use science and two-eyed seeing to address questions relating to marine and aquatic issues.”
  • Technical support– “UINR can act in an advisory role for Mi’kmaq communities on environmental concerns, fishing and potential effects of development.”
  • Stewardship–“Gathering information is fine, but our Elders are frustrated when no action is taken to address the problems. Stewardship is a way we can change behaviour that harms the environment. It helps us re-establish our interconnection with nature. We are responsible for Mother Earth. Let’s take our responsibility to action.”

Shelley’s activities and accomplishments range from enhancing the Bras d’Or Lakes with artificial lobster habitat to developing a management plan for Mi’kmaq traditional use of lobster, and using traditional Mi’kmaq knowledge and scientific approaches in studying eels. Her knowledge on marine water quality helps us understand the environmental water quality in the Bras d’Or Lakes and what areas and issues that need to be addressed.



Shelley: In the News

UINR/ Parks Canada Eel Study

September 17, 2009News, Research

UINR is working with Parks Canada to study the population of American eel in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Throughout June, UINR staff will catch, measure and release elvers (young eels) as they enter the rivers and brooks between Ingonish Beach and Neil’s Harbour. The project is looking at the migration of the elvers from … Read More

UINR Partners with Parks Canada on Eel Study

June 16, 2009News, Partnerships

The Unama’ki Institute for Natural Resources (UINR) is working with Parks Canada to study the population of American eel in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Throughout June UINR staff will catch, measure, and release elvers (young eels) as they enter the rivers and brooks between Ingonish Beach and Neil’s Harbour. The project is looking at … Read More

Lend us an eel!

December 27, 2008News

UINR is doing research on eels in the Bras d’Or Lakes and we are looking for 15 eels from fishers in each First Nations community. If you are spearing eels this winter and would like to help us with our research, give Shelley Denny a call at 379 2024 ext. 229 or toll free at … Read More

Any eels to spare?

September 27, 2008News, Research

UINR has been fortunate again this year to receive support from the Aboriginal Funds for Species At Risk program to expand our nearshore mapping of eel habitat and Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge project. Our original project took place in Potlotek, Waycobah, Wagmatcook, Malagawatch, Membertou and Eskasoni in 2007-2008. This year we will address knowledge gaps in … Read More

Young alumni award

December 9, 2006News

Shelley Denny shares a moment with Dr. George Newsome (Buck) after receiving a Young Alumni Award from St. FX University this fall. From UINR Marten – Vol.2. Issue.4 – Winter 2006

Banff bound!

December 9, 2006News

Lisa Young and Shelley Denny from UINR recently participated in the Banff Centre Aboriginal Leadership and Management Development Program. Lisa explains “I was more than impressed with the whole experience. The facilitators were knowledgeable and engaging. I would definitely recommend this program to any one of our leaders or managers who are interested in bettering … Read More

Atlantic saury visit

December 9, 2006News

The Atlantic suary (Scomberesox sarus), was found washed on shore and caught by fishers in East Bay. Sauries are also known as skippers because they skip along the surface of the water when escaping from their predators. Other common names include needlefish or billfish because of its distinct sharp beak. The saury is a schooling … Read More

Native rights balanced by science

December 9, 2006News

by Shelley Denny The “peaceful” protest this fall in St. Peter’s between commercial lobster fishers from St. Peter’s and surrounding area and Chapel Island food fishers has been disheartening and infuriating. After 20 years of Treaty Day celebrations, it seems that our closest neighbors don’t accept Mi’kmaq food fishing rights. The irony in the situation … Read More

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