Celebrating World Oceans Day by partnering to explore and protect mysterious underwater mountains in Canada
Press Release Date: June 8, 2018
Today, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Haida Nation, Oceana Canada and Ocean Networks Canada announced a new partnership to share resources, knowledge and expertise to better understand and protect seamounts (underwater mountains) near the islands of Haida Gwaii.
Protecting seamounts is internationally recognized as important for healthy oceans. Seamounts are offshore biodiversity hotspots. These highly-structured environments are ideal for coral and sponge growth, in turn providing nursery and foraging habitat important for fish populations and other marine life.
This summer, the group will spend 16 days aboard the Ocean Exploration Trust’s state-of-the-art vessel, E/V Nautilus, studying three seamounts: SGaan Kinghlas-Bowie, Dellwood and Explorer.
Seamounts can be found in every ocean but are particularly abundant in the Pacific Ocean, with many near the islands’ of Haida Gwaii. Up until the 1980s, seamounts were not widely studied, and scientists have only begun to learn about their ecological importance. Research from this expedition will help us better understand this critical marine habitat and support management of these areas, including the implementation of additional protection measures.
From July 5-21, 2018, Canadians can join the partners as they explore the mystery and wonder of the seamounts. Daily livestream footage of the seafloor and updates from the expedition team will be available during the expedition on ProtectOceans.ca.
“The Haida Nation’s territory extends from the mountains, forests and rivers of Haida Gwaii to the depths of the ocean, including seamounts such as SGaan Kinghlas Supernatural Being Looking Outwards. We look forward to working with our partners to increase our understanding of seamounts and the ecosystems that they support, with the aim of continuing to improve our management of these culturally, spiritually and economically important marine features.”
Kil tlaats ‘gaa Peter Lantin, President of the Haida Nation
“We are proud to partner with the Haida Nation, Oceana Canada, and Ocean Networks Canada on this expedition to study some of Canada’s most unique and sensitive marine ecosystems. As we continue to work hard to protect 10% of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by 2020, we know that close collaboration is essential to improving our understanding of our oceans and find the best ways to achieve meaningful marine conservation that benefits both the environment and coastal communities.”
The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“The ocean is vast and doesn’t give up its secrets easily. Collaboration is the key to better understanding and protecting marine ecosystems. Through this partnership, we will protect seamounts in Canada. Oceana has a track record of success protecting marine habitats around the world, including through science-based expeditions. On this expedition, we are adding to this global mission, ensuring future generations inherit healthy oceans that support thriving coastal communities.”
Dr. Robert Rangeley, Director of Science, Oceana Canada
“We are excited to partner with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Oceana, and the Haida Nation to combine ocean science and Indigenous knowledge to better understand these unique and critical seamount habitats. For the first time Ocean Networks Canada will be extending its long-term monitoring systems to a seamount habitat with a deployment on Dellwood Seamount.”
Kate Moran, President & CEO, Ocean Networks Canada
“The ocean is complex, and it takes a diverse partnership like this one to help us understand our blue planet’s deep-sea engine. Ocean Networks Canada is thrilled to contribute to this exciting collaboration with our world-leading ocean observing technology, which provides the ocean ‘intelligence’ decision-makers need to preserve and protect ocean ecosystems for future generations.”
- Oceans are central to human life, covering nearly three-quarters of our planet, holding 97% of the earth’s water, and producing more than half of the oxygen in the atmosphere. It also is a source of food, and economic, social and cultural value that people around the world depend on.
- Seamounts are underwater mountains that rise thousands of meters from the seafloor. Most seamounts are extinct underwater volcanoes and are surrounded by deep, muddy abyssal plains. Their steep, rocky sides provide unique habitat for many seafloor species, such as cold-water corals and sponges, and fish like rockfish.
- Only a small percentage of seamounts have been mapped, but scientists estimate that the Pacific Ocean alone contains 30,000 to 50,000 seamounts above 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) tall.
- Currently, 87% of known seamounts in Canada are within an Area of Interest located off the coast of British Columbia. More research can help scientists better understand this critical marine habitat and support more permanent protection measures such as the creation of a Marine Protected Area.
About the expedition partners
Oceana Canada was established as an independent charity in 2015 and is part of the largest international advocacy group dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Canada has the longest coastline in the world, with an ocean surface area of 7.1 million square kilometres, or 70% of its landmass. Oceana Canada believes that Canada has a national and global obligation to manage our natural resources responsibly and help ensure a sustainable source of protein for the world’s growing population. Oceana Canada works with civil society, academics, fishers, Indigenous Peoples and the federal government to return Canada’s formerly vibrant oceans to health and abundance. By restoring Canada’s oceans, we can strengthen our communities, reap greater economic and nutritional benefits, and protect our future.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Science At-Sea Program
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is committed to working with partners to provide the best available science to achieve sustainable management of our oceans and their aquatic resources and to reach our marine conservation targets. As such, DFO conducts more than 130 science missions year-round in Canadian waters. This expedition focuses on seamounts within a Marine Protected Area (MPA) and a newly announced Area of Interest (AOI) that is intended to become one of Canada’s largest MPAs by 2020. The AOI captures nearly all known Canadian seamounts and 100% of Canada’s hydrothermal vents.
Haida have occupied and managed Haida Gwaii and its surrounding waters since before time. The nation’s territory encompasses parts of southern Alaska and the archipelago of Haida Gwaii, including SGaan Kinghlas Seamount. The nation is engaged with all levels of Indigenous and Canadian governments on collaborative research projects across all disciplines, and contributes original research which includes the integration of Indigenous knowledge.
Ocean Networks Canada
Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), an initiative of the University of Victoria, monitors the west and east coasts of Canada and the Arctic to continuously deliver data in real-time for scientific research that helps communities, governments, and industry make informed decisions about our future. Using cabled observatories, remote control systems and interactive sensors, and big data management, ONC enables evidence-based decision-making on ocean management, marine safety and environmental protection. ONC has been working in collaboration with educators, students, communities and Indigenous Peoples on ocean monitoring initiatives along British Columbia’s coast and in the Arctic for the past five years.
– 30 –
For more information:
Vincent Hughes Media Relations
Press Secretary Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans 613-990-7537
and the Canadian Coast Guard Media.firstname.lastname@example.org
Simon Davies Kara-Ann Miel
Communications Director Communications Director
Council of the Haida Nation Oceana Canada
Ocean Networks Canada
250-472-4743 or 250-216-7510