Folger Passage at a Glance:
- Region: Southwest coast of Vancouver Island, a short sail west of Bamfield, B.C in the mouth of Barkley Sound
- Instrument Platforms: Folger Pinnacle and Folger Deep
- Folger Pinnacle: 23 m
- Folger Deep: 100 m
- Folger Pinnacle: Lat: 48.80829 N, Lon: -125.2815 W
- Folger Deep: Lat: 48.81378 N, Lon: -125.28095 W
- Seafloor Composition: Diverse, from sandy sediments and gravel near Folger Deep to cobbles, boulders, and rocky pillars at Folger Pinnacle.
- Principal Research: WCVI Marine Ecosystem Project. ocean biogeochemistry, terrestrial-marine interactions, coastal physical oceanography, phyto- and zooplankton, fish, and marine mammals.
Located where terrestrial and marine ecosystems collide, the Folger Passage ecosystem is particularly rich in both species density and diversity. One of the most intriguing aspects of the Folger Passage is the fact that two distinct, yet interconnected ecosystems are incorporated within it.
The first system, at Folger Pinnacle, is a near-shore reef ecosystem with abundant sponges, anemones, bryozoans, and seaweed making up the colourful backdrop for more motile families of organisms, such as molluscs, rockfish, and a myriad of echinoderms.
Characterized by mixing wave action and abundant light, the Folger Pinnacle ecosystem stands in stark contrast to that of Folger Deep, some 80 m below the pinnacle, which plays host to a dense zooplankton community feeding the abundant fish schooling in the water column above.
What Makes Folger Passage Unique?
Folger Passage is a unique laboratory in that it monitors a reef ecosystem driven by the physical oceanographic process of upwelling, whereby cold, nutrient-rich waters are drawn up from the deep by the offshore, wind-driven movement of warm, nutrient-poor surface waters.
Flushing the sunlit reef ecosystem of Folger Pinnacle with cold, nutrient- and oxygen-rich water from Folger Deep, placement of the Ocean Networks Canada’s Folger Passage node then allows the unique opportunity to monitor upwelling in action, and to better understand the process and ecosystem which are intimately linked to the health of Canada’s Fisheries.
Being ONC's shallowest installation site, Folger Pinnacle is indeed shallow enough for cameras to show images during daylight without the need for artificial lights whose usage, for marine protection, usually needs to be limited.
The West Coast of Vancouver Island (WCVI) Marine Ecosystem Project, led by Scientist Ron Tanasichuk of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, aims to explore the impacts of oceanographic processes, such as currents, ocean mixing, and storms, on coastal marine life through the following studies:
- Acoustic Current Visualization using Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) devices at both Folger Deep and Folger Pinnacle.
- Scientist Rich Pawlowicz from the University of British Columbia is using acoustic data from BioSonics Echousounders to study fish, plankton and bubbles across Folger Passage.
- LIDO (Listen to the Deep Ocean), led by Michel André, is a project that uses hydrophones from across NEPTUNE observatory to measure bioacoustics of deep sea environments. Hydrophones are also the key instruments used in the Fin Whale Vocalization study, led by William Wilcock from the University of Washington’s School of Oceanography.
- A pilot project, led by Scientist Dilumie Abeysirigunawardena, takes an unconventional approach to storm watching by using data on temperature, oxygen and salinity fluxes to measure the impacts of storm-related deep water mixing on ecosystem dynamics.
- A focused study by Sally Leys and Herb Yang on Sessile (non-motile) Suspension Feeders, such as mussels, or sponges, uses a custom-built 8-lens camera system to capture 3D images from the Foler Pinnacle Instrument Platform.