Researchers with the DFO and Oceans Network Canada will explore the largest underwater volcano in Canada (File submitted/DFO)

Researchers head out from Sidney to explore Canada’s largest underwater volcano

The Explorer Seamount is as large as Greater Vancouver and full of previously undiscovered species

Researchers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Ocean Networks Canada, as well as partners for the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation will be embarking on a two-week expedition to explore Canada’s largest underwater volcano, the Explorer Seamount.

The team will dive as far as 2000 meters using a submersible camera called the Bathal Ocean Observation and Televideo System, also known as “BOOTS,” which will live-stream the mission as it unfolds.

The Explorer Seamount is located in south west of the Haida Gwaii, and is part of an Area of Interest (AOI) identified in 2017. The massive mount is the size of Greater Vancouver, and approximately the same height as Mt. Baker in Washington State.

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An expedition in 2018 in the area led to the discovery of many new species previously unknown to science.

“Explorer Seamount is like no other that we have visited to far. It is home to a strange reef-like habitat, informally called Spongetopia, a bizarrely large monoculture of sponges extending far beyond the distance the scientists could travel during the 2018 dive,” reads the DFO description of the area. “To add to the mystery, the geological, chemical, and ecological characteristics of the seamount are all varied from what scientists have come to expect on seamounts in the region.”

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The 2019 follow up will continue to explore to learn more about the animals and plants which live in the area, the chemical and biological differences in the water, the impact humans in the area, and new information on regional geography.

Further research will also help ocean conservationists decide if the area can be categorized as an Oceans Act Marine Protected Area.

Researchers will embark on the CCGS John P. Tully to begin the mission on July 16.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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Researchers with the DFO and Oceans Network Canada will use a specialized underwater equipment to explore the largest underwater volcano in Canada. Here, a remotely operated vehicle explored Spongetopia in 2018 (File submitted/Oceans Exploration Trust, Northeast Pacific Seamount Expedition Partners)

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