Living Oceans Society is launching the Finding Coral Expedition in search of deep sea corals off the coast of British Columbia on June 8 . The expedition aims to find out where B.C.’s coral forests are located and what mysterious creatures live there. It is very likely that there will be species of fish, invertebrates and corals that have never been seen before.
The Finding Coral Expedition is the first of its kind in B.C. Living Oceans has gathered an team of world renowned deep sea coral scientists, including MCBI’s Dr. Lance Morgan, who will pilot one-man subs to depths of 500 metres to film, observe and gather coral samples in places like Moresby Gully, Goose Trough and Bell Passage. The expedition’s scientists will focus on learning which coral species are most abundant in our waters, their location, habitat function, and what species live in the coral forests.
The expitition is looking to find fertile oases of the ocean, but may also see corals smashed to rubble by fishing gear that rakes the seafloor.
Until June, there isn’t much we can tell you about B.C.’s deep sea corals, but based on research done in Washington State and Alaska, B.C.’s coral forests are the spawning grounds and nurseries that drive ocean ecosystems. Much of what we know about deep sea corals is deduced from U.S. studies in Alaskan waters and the corals that have been uprooted and brought to the surface as bycatch in bottom trawl nets.
Over the past five years, Living Oceans has worked to secure a commitment from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to protect deep sea corals. But for DFO to follow through they must have a physical survey of the corals and video evidence that they are being damaged by destructive fishing practices. And DFO will not conduct that research.
That’s why, after five years of waiting for coral protection, Living Oceans Society is launching the Finding Coral Expedition to collect the evidence and make it public. The mini subs are equipped with video cameras, and footage of these never-been-seen-before deep sea corals will be uploaded to youtube throughout expedition.
You can follow the expedition at www.findingcoral.com