What wonders lie in Canada’s deep sea and why we should protect them

Offshore of the Northeast Pacific supports a wealth of life and diversity, including the extraordinary deep-sea animals living on hydrothermal vents and seamounts (underwater mountains).

With growing uncertainty of the future and global-scale threats, one of the things we can do is designate special places, such as marine protected areas.

Transcript

The British Columbia offshore habitat is an incredible place where we find a wealth of animal life.

It’s amazing because you’re cruising over the seafloor in complete darkness and you might think that it’d be desolate, barren terrain, but it’s so full of life and there is so much diversity.

Cruising up these seamounts and seeing rockfish and halibut.

There’s sponges and corals that could be hundreds to thousands of years old.

There’s cool tubeworms and sea stars, urchins.

Tuna, whales, sharks, seabirds.

Like a hotspot of biodiversity so we can find many different kinds of species.

What’s really interesting is that everyone is different.

You see diversities that we just didn’t expect.

So, every time we go out and put a camera down or do any kind of research, we always find something new and unexpected.

What we have learned is that there is a tremendous abundance of life on these areas.

It’s amazing because we are only a few hundred kilometres offshore and we have over 80% of Canada’s subsurface seamounts.

An area that looks exactly the same as any other area and yet we can dive down and find this oasis of life under the water surface.

It’s important to protect our offshore area because we are still in the process of discovering what’s down there.

Even though they are far offshore, believe it or not, but they are still impacted by humans.

There are forces working in the earth here that happen only usually in the middle of the ocean, but they happen just off our coast.

Hydrothermal vents have unique species and endemic species to just those areas and these are areas that are important for us to protect.

There’s all kinds of acids and hot water and vents that are spewing things from deep in the earth.

They can provide goods and services for humans, like for example, antibiotics or medicines.

There is so much life there that there may be an animal living there that holds the key to curing cancer.

Not only are we talking about protecting seamounts, we are talking about safe-guarding the health of our oceans.

And these habitats can act as important refuges for depleted fish populations.

It’s really important for our planet to have a healthy ocean.

It’s the largest ecosystem on earth, and geologically, it tells us so much about the workings of our planet.

There’s the abyssal plains, hydrothermal vents, seamounts, and all of these habitats are connected with each other as well all the way up to the surface of the ocean.

And like an old growth forest, these will take centuries, maybe millennia to recover if we destroy it.

It’s our duty today to protect them.

The deep sea will continue to be impacted by global changes we can no longer prevent.

One of the things we can do is to designate special areas where we no longer fish or conduct other harmful activities.