Event Title

Glass sponge bioherms in Howe Sound: mapping, citizen science and impacts of climate and fishing

Presentation Abstract

There are three species of glass sponges (Class Hexactinellida) that are capable of forming reefs (bioherms). Historically, glass sponge bioherms have been discovered along the NW Pacific Coast of Canada through multi-beam sonar surveys. However, twelve bioherms have been discovered in Howe Sound through a novel and inexpensive drop camera system that were missed in previous sonar explorations of the area due to incompatibility of the sonar resolution with the steep, complex bathymetry of the fjord. Of these bioherms, ten are shallower than 50 meters and accessible by SCUBA for hands-on research, six of them amenable to diving on compressed air (30-40m). These bioherms provide a unique opportunity for citizen science-driven/-partnered research. Various citizen science partnerships and projects are currently underway, such as one designed to observe long-term benthic temperatures within bioherms. This project will endeavour to further our understanding of the effects of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events on glass sponge growth and decay cycles. Cloud sponge mortality has been associated with the 2009/2010 and 2015/2016 El Niños. Another project has proven ability for tissue repair during La Niña events. The principal citizen science initiative of Howe Sound bioherm exploration also provided direct evidence of damage by prawn trapping. These newly discovered sites in Howe Sound are providing unparalleled opportunities for leading-edge glass sponge and bioherm research that can involve the community as a partner. Citizen science participation increases environmental awareness and understanding which will increase public stewardship to this globally unique ecosystem.

Session Title

General Marine Habitat

Conference Track

Habitat

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (2016 : Vancouver, B.C.)

Document Type

Event

Location

2016SSEC

Type of Presentation

Oral

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Comments

If deemed necessary we can split this into two different presentations. The first by Glen Dennison and Lena Clayton to focus on glass sponge exploration techniques (more along the lines of citizen science) and the second by Jeff Marliave to focus on the ENSO events and their relationship to growth and decay cycles of glass sponges

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

Text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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Glass sponge bioherms in Howe Sound: mapping, citizen science and impacts of climate and fishing

2016SSEC

There are three species of glass sponges (Class Hexactinellida) that are capable of forming reefs (bioherms). Historically, glass sponge bioherms have been discovered along the NW Pacific Coast of Canada through multi-beam sonar surveys. However, twelve bioherms have been discovered in Howe Sound through a novel and inexpensive drop camera system that were missed in previous sonar explorations of the area due to incompatibility of the sonar resolution with the steep, complex bathymetry of the fjord. Of these bioherms, ten are shallower than 50 meters and accessible by SCUBA for hands-on research, six of them amenable to diving on compressed air (30-40m). These bioherms provide a unique opportunity for citizen science-driven/-partnered research. Various citizen science partnerships and projects are currently underway, such as one designed to observe long-term benthic temperatures within bioherms. This project will endeavour to further our understanding of the effects of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events on glass sponge growth and decay cycles. Cloud sponge mortality has been associated with the 2009/2010 and 2015/2016 El Niños. Another project has proven ability for tissue repair during La Niña events. The principal citizen science initiative of Howe Sound bioherm exploration also provided direct evidence of damage by prawn trapping. These newly discovered sites in Howe Sound are providing unparalleled opportunities for leading-edge glass sponge and bioherm research that can involve the community as a partner. Citizen science participation increases environmental awareness and understanding which will increase public stewardship to this globally unique ecosystem.