Conclusions

In all these studies, no classic succession of invertebrate species was observed, in contrast with insect colonization in terrestrial environments. Most invertebrate fauna were opportunistic scavengers and fed on the remains at all times, until no soft tissue was left. Nevertheless, the fauna on the remains, the decomposition and the feeding patterns do suggest that a better understanding of decomposition in the marine environment will be valuable in estimating elapsed time since submergence, identifying the environment in which the body has decomposed and identifying the origin of marks on the remains. The VENUS experiments are ongoing.

Acknowledgments This sort of research cannot be done alone and I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the many people who donated hundreds of hours of in-kind support to this work, in the form of divers, boats, hovercrafts and field technicians. I would like to thank the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in particular, Sgt. Ken Burton, Skipper of the Nadon, and all the RCMP divers that helped in my research; the Canadian Coast Guard and all the many divers, boat and hovercraft operators that assisted; the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Research Centre, in particular Dr. Jeff Marliave and Mr. Jeremy Heyward; and the Canadian Amphibious Search team, in particular, Mr. Tim MacFarlane and all the divers of CAST. I would particularly like to thank the VENUS project; Dr. Verena Tunnicliffe, the Project Director, for inviting me onboard and Mr. Paul Macoun, Dr. Richard Dewey and Mr. Adrian Round for their continuous support. I also wish to thank Ms. Niki Hobischak for her ongoing assistance.

This work was partially funded by the Canadian Police Research Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and I wish to thank Ms. Julie Graham and Mr. Steve Palmer for their support. Finally, and most importantly, I wish to thank Cpl. Bob Teather, RCMP, CV (deceased), for inspiring all my marine work and for providing advice, support and encouragement throughout. He is greatly missed.

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