April 3, 2017
“Once every decade do you get the chance to make a nomination for a World Heritage Site.”
LAURIE GOURLAY, Salish Sea Trust
Sea Legacy has joined Laurie Gourlay as they believe “The Salish Sea is a treasure worth celebrating and we believe that now is the time to share our treasure with the world”.
Howe Sound is a treasure and protection of the Salish Sea is protection for our fjord.
By the end of April, 10,000 signatures are required in order for the Salish Sea to make it onto the short list of possible sites. We support the Salish Sea Trust in their efforts to achieve this legacy moment for the Salish Sea.
Here is our letter of support:
The Future of Howe Sound Society is committed to the conservation and stewardship of Howe Sound for the benefit of current and future generations. The Howe Sound portion of the Salish Sea is a fjord located close to Vancouver.
Howe Sound is a unique, wild environment bordering a significant urban centre. Our goal is to foster the ongoing resurgence of the natural marine and terrestrial environment in Howe Sound region.
The Sound is only now recovering from a legacy of industrial misuse. The clean up and recovery has taken decades but we are seeing evidence of the environmental recovery. Humpback and Orca whales, dolphins and porpoises are frequent visitors to Howe Sound following the food that has also seen a resurgence over the past decade.
Marine Life Sanctuaries Society, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Vancouver Aquarium are working hard In Howe Sound to protect 11 full sponge reef sites and many other sponge gardens (areas with impressive sponge formations but where there is not extensive reef formation) that have been discovered.
According to MLSS – Sponges offer important habitat for a variety of marine life and are important for fish and marine invertebrate reproduction, potentially acting as important nursery grounds for juvenile rockfish. Sponges are also important filters and 1 sponge can filter 9000L per day. There is still much unknown about their role in the ecosystem and the presence of sponge reefs at diveable depths offers researchers a great opportunity to study and better understand these incredible ecosystems.
Sponge bioherms are reefs composed of colonies of cloud sponges (Aphrocallistes vastus) living on layers of dead sponge. Cloud sponges are made up of silica and are found in other places around the world, but only in BC are they known to grow on the skeleton of dead sponge and build large reef structures.
Fossil records indicate that over the earth’s history sponge reefs have created the largest biological structures that have ever existed on planet, with some encompassing 4,300 square km, nearly double the size of the great barrier reef. These incredible structures were thought to have been extinct until 1986, when an oceanographic survey in the Queen Charlottes discovered a 9,000 year old sponge reef in Hecate straight that was 8 stories high and 700 square km.
The Vancouver Aquarium’s Coastal Ocean Research Institute recently published the OceanWatch Report – Howe Sound Edition. This report provides much more information about the uniqueness of the marine life in Howe Sound. Howe Sound is a living laboratory with Research, new discoveries and education ongoing.
We fully support the initiative to have the Salish Sea designated as a World Heritage Site in order to protect this unique and special habitat for future generations to come.