Crew from Cold Water Divers help Grade 9 students from Claremont High School onboard, to drop reef balls into the waters of the Victoria International Marina. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

Crew from Cold Water Divers help Grade 9 students from Claremont High School onboard, to drop reef balls into the waters of the Victoria International Marina. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

Claremont students bring marine life back to Victoria International Marina

Class project built reef balls, to drop in local waters and attract fish habitats

The waters surrounding Victoria International Marina have long been considered a lost cause, polluted beyond measure, but students from Claremont Secondary School have been working on a project to rebuild fish habitats and attract marine life back to the area.

On Thursday, grade 9 students gathered on the pier to drop four reef balls into the water, the final stage of a project they began as part of their Institute for Global Solutions class.

“The kids have been involved from the beginning,” says science teacher Joanna Linger, describing the process of building each ball in a mould, compacting the concrete and allowing them time to cure since the project began back in February.

“It really sparked kind of a new topic in our classroom,” she says, as the students took the opportunity to learn what artificial reef balls do, and where else in the world they can be found.

The kids got really excited about bringing some of this marine life back to our Inner Harbour, she added.

RELATED: Victoria Harbour most polluted on B.C. coast: study

The initiative was presented to the students by staff of the marina, and Burt Minter, of Artificial Reef Structures, who designed and dropped some 600 reef balls in the waters off Sidney pier.

Micro eco-systems develop around the environmentally-friendly concrete structures — each weighing 300 lbs. — and attracting fish, phytoplankton and other marine life.

The results are two-fold; the surface makes for a breeding ground where sea plants can grow and feed smaller fish, and they also serve as shelter protecting them from larger predators.

“These reef balls have a really specific cool design,” says grade 9 student Jordan Vearer, who learned how the pollution in the harbour has driven away so much marine life.

Each reef ball is approximately 3 ft. in diameter, but the combined surface is able to provide habitat to over 100,000 fish.

“It’s a really, really cool experience to be actually doing something that’s going to make a difference,” she says.

With the assistance of Victoria-based Cold Water Divers, Vearer and classmate Connor North climbed aboard a research vessel to guide the balls to their destination, ten metres offshore.

RELATED: Oak Bay High students help researching Victoria Harbour waters

Local residents stopped to watch, remarking how pleased they were to see the fruits of the students’ labour, saying they’ve already seen wildlife return, as the area continues to be redeveloped.

Now submerged, the students will be able to monitor the progress of each ball with the aid of an underwater camera linked to an online portal they can access from their laptops. The class has chronicled the process from the beginning and using the data they receive from the reef balls, will make short documentaries to look back on the project.

“We can track it all the way from our grade 9 year to our grade 12 year,” Vearer says.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

Inner Harbour

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sipili Molia, regional kettle manager, shows off the Salvation Army’s new contactless donation system for the 2020 Christmas Kettle Campaign outside municipal hall on Dec. 1. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: Tech offers hope as Salvation Army sees need skyrocket across B.C.

Charity is equipping hundreds of kettles across B.C. with ‘touchless giving technology’

Kathy MacNeil, president and chief executive officer of Island Health, Dawn Thomas, acting deputy health minister and Island Health’s vice president, Indigenous health and diversity and Chief Don Tom of Tsartlip First Nation, stand out Saanich Peninsula Hospital Tuesday morning, when they also answered questions about a new report that “widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people” in the provincial health care system. (Island Health/Submitted)
Head of Island Health says Saanich Peninsula Hospital not part of racist guessing game

Tsartlip First Nations Chief Don Tom welcomes changes following report but promises future scrutiny

BC Transit confirmed on Dec. 1 that a Langford employee has tested positive for COVID-19. (Courtesy of BC Transit)
Langford transit worker tests positive for COVID-19

Island Health is conducting contact tracing for the case

The Capital Regional District and the Habitat Acquisition Fund have agreed to partner on the purchase of the $3.4-million Mountain View Forest in Saanich to establish a new regional park. (Photo courtesy the Habitat Acquisition Trust)
CRD, Habitat Acquisition Trust to spend $3.4M on 20-hectare forest park in Saanich

Mountian Road Forest property to be conserved as regional park

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Dave Wallace coached the Parksville Royals for 23 years. (PQB News file photo)
B.C. baseball community mourns death of legendary Vancouver Island coach Dave Wallace

‘All who knew Dave and his passion for the game will miss him greatly’

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Most Read