First-Ever Submarine Dive on Vancouver’s “Living Fossils”: Glass Sponge Reefs

A submersible dive into Howe Sound in British Columbia reveals a colony of glass sponges.

Howe Sound, British Columbia—Through the submersible’s acrylic viewport, a large patch of glass sponges looms up from the seafloor of Howe Sound (map), a network of fjords located on Vancouver’s doorstep. The sponges glow creamy white and orange under the sub’s high-intensity lamps and extend across a 40-foot-high (12.2-meter-high) mound.

“Topside, topside, be advised we have sponge at this location,” senior pilot Jeff Heaton says into his communication system from a depth of 135 feet (41.1 meters).

“This is a sponge reef,” says Heaton from inside the inch-thick (2.5-centimeter-thick) steel hull of the Aquarius submersible, a three-person vehicle owned and operated by Nuytco Research. “No doubt about it.”

This week, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and Nuytco Research mounted the first submarine expedition to the glass sponge reefs found in Georgia Strait off of Vancouver.

The expedition aims to check on the status of these sponge reefs, which currently have no protection from damage by fishing activities, and to raise awareness of their existence.

Read the full story here.


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About jensera

Jennifer Harrington is a Toronto-based illustrator, writer and graphic designer. She illustrated the best-selling children’s book series 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' which includes the titles 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' 'The Night Before a Canadian Christmas' and 'Canadian Jingle Bells.' She is also the owner of JSH Graphics, a boutique graphic design agency that specializes in print and web advertising. With her latest project, Eco Books 4 Kids, Jennifer has partnered with illustrator Michael Arnott to create a series of ecologically-themed ebooks for children. Her next book, 'Spirit Bear,' is due for release in the Summer of 2013. Jennifer offers two different school presentations for her 'Moose in a Maple Tree' collection, an illustration demonstration and a Christmas concert series, which can be booked at She will be taking bookings for school readings of 'Spirit Bear' beginning in October 2013.

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