Conserving Atlantic whales and maintaining iconic lighthouses were among Laurie Murison’s passions during her influential research and teaching career on New Brunswick’s Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy.
Executive director of the Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station and a champion of marine conservation, the U of G master’s grad died Jan. 3, 2021. She was 61.
After Murison completed a master’s degree in 1986 with then-zoology professor Dr. David Gaskin, she kept up ties with both U of G and her adviser. Many U of G graduate students carried out research at the station, which was founded by Gaskin, a marine biologist, in 1981. He died in 1998.
Murison helped create the Gaskin Memorial Museum at the station in North Head, which receives thousands of visitors each year.
As part of her research to protect habitats and species, she conducted aerial surveys of endangered right whales in the Bay of Fundy that linked deaths of the mammals to shipping lane traffic. Her advocacy helped to move the shipping lanes in 2003; numbers of new whale calves increased over the next decade.
She arrived at Grand Manan while studying right whales for her degree at U of G in the 1980s.
Among her projects on the island, she helped lead efforts to protect and restore historical buildings, including the Swallowtail Lighthouse. She helped her husband, Ken Ingersoll, as a volunteer light keeper.
A long-time volunteer on Grand Manan, Murison taught local students and visitors, consulted with the local fishers’ association on whale entanglement reduction, served as naturalist with a whale tour boat company, and created and installed educational panels along hiking trails.
M.J. Edwards, curator and director of the Grand Manan Museum, told CBC Radio that Murison continued to chair board meetings and help with renovations through her chemotherapy treatment.
“We accomplished more in the last five years at the museum than in the last 50,” said Edwards. “She never let anything get in her way. I don’t think anyone has touched the lives of islanders so many