Exploring deep fjord reefs (credit: Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
Cruise title: Discovering Deep Fjord Reefs (British Columbia, Canada)
Partners: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Gitga’at Kitasoo/Xai’xais and Heiltsuk Nations, and the Central Coast Resource Indigenous Alliance
Lead PIs: Tammy Norgard and Cherisse Du Preez
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Dates: May 2022
The recent discovery of Pacific Canada’s first coral reef is monumental. It disproved the long-held hypothesis that coral reefs were regionally extinct (owing to naturally occurring low oxygen and low pH). Our expedition will return to the newly discovered Lophelia pertusa reef ecosystem to visually survey and map its extent and characterize its biodiversity. We will also search for more coral (and glass sponge) reefs guided by habitat suitability predictions. This research is a collaboration between the local communities and governments (Gitga’at Kitasoo/Xai’xais and Heiltsuk Nations and the Central Coast Resource Indigenous Alliance) and the federal government (represented by Fisheries and Oceans Canada). This expedition leg is part of a considerable multi-year research effort to understand the entire fjord ecosystem, from the deep sea to the high tide zone. The research supports the co-creation of the regional Marine Protected Areas spatial and emergency response planning processes.
Deep water coral reef community (credit: Fisheries and Oceans Canada)