We are only beginning to understand the vital role that submarine canyons play in our global ocean. Acting as ‘deep sea gutters’, these biodiversity hotspots trap and concentrate organic matter that serves as food for many marine invertebrates, fish, and marine mammals.
While nearly 10,000 submarine canyons have been mapped to date, only 8.5% of them have been studied by the scientific community. In a new volume of research published recently in Progress in Oceanography, 17 scientific articles describe new discoveries on physical, geological, and biological processes of these incredibly diverse and dynamic seabed topographic features, highlighting the key role submarine canyons...
Beneath the ocean floor, bacteria produce methane gas that is regularly released up through the sediment and into the sea water as bubble streams (Figure 1). While these gas flares have been observed on continental margins around the world, until now there has been no systematic study of all available gas flow observation data to estimate the total amount of methane escaping from the seafloor. These data are important for the global inventory of carbon and also for analyzing the uptake of carbon dioxide (ocean acidification), and its impact on climate change.
Figure 1: Methane gas bubbles escaping the seafloor near Clayoquot Slope.
In June 2016, Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) successfully deployed and connected the first of several earthquake early warning sensors on the Cascadia subduction zone. It will be part of a network of seismic sensors that ONC will install underwater and on land as part of an earthquake early warning system funded by Emergency Management British Columbia (EMBC).
The first EEWS sensor being deployed on the Cascadia subduction zone.
Ocean Networks Canada’s (ONC) Expedition 2016: Wiring the Abyss returned to port on June 25 after 40 days at sea off the west coast of Canada. This ambitious undertaking involved 149 people aboard three ships, and included three remotely operated vehicles (ROV) making 44 dives to deploy, maintain and recover 180 instruments and lay 18 km of fibre-optic cable. The dynamic 24/7 operations engaged viewers across the world via live stream and featured regular Q&A with scientists, educators and engineers.
According to recent studies, roughly 10,000 submarine canyons exist worldwide. Only 1% have been studied in any detail.
The exploration of submarine canyons reveals exuberant ecosystems with never-before-seen life forms and habitats. While the scientific understanding of canyons advances, so does the human footprint into the deep sea—with increasing demands for oil and gas, minerals and fisheries.
The scientific community has a responsibility to prepare an assessment of the role submarine canyons play in generating and maintaining deep-sea biodiversity and ecosystem function, in support of...
From submarine canyons to oxygen minimum zones, and from methane seeps to unique gas hydrate mounds, Barkley Canyon offers remarkable biodiversity in a wide range of depths and environments.
Wally the seafloor crawler explores the gas hydrate mounds at Barkley Canyon.
Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) has sensors and instruments that span a range of ocean depths in Barkley Canyon. For the past five years, this area, which is one of the most diverse and deep ocean environments, has attracted scientists from around the world and across disciplines. In October, ONC hosted a Barkley Canyon Refresh Workshop that brought together researchers from...
High resolution video cameras on ONC’s seafloor observatories offer a rare glimpse of undersea life from the northeast Pacific Ocean. Anyone on the planet can visit these unique 24/7 live portals to view the mysterious undersea world. Once in a while, the keen eye of a citizen scientist observes something quite remarkable—like a mass migration involving thousands of tanner crabs.
“Why are these crabs massing at Barkley Canyon?” asked a postal worker from Minnesota. ONC staff scientist Fabio De Leo weighs in on this rarely viewed event.
On 11 January 2015, the link with Ocean Networks Canada’s Barkley Canyon node was lost, halting all data delivery from this site in the Northeast Pacific. Further investigation revealed that a fishing trawling gear had damaged the node and cut off communications to all sensors connected to the Barkley Canyon node.
Fig.1 –Barkley node (orange square) is the power and communications hub for ONC’s Barkley Canyon observatory site.
For locations like Barkley Canyon where active fishing occurs,...
One of Ocean Networks Canada’s seafloor observatory video cameras has captured a natural phenomenon in the Northeast Pacific Ocean: Hundreds (if not thousands) of crabs crawling over the seabed amid strong currents, almost one thousand metres below the surface at Barkley Canyon.
The Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) cabled observatories located off Canada’s west coast provide a unique portal to the ocean via high resolution cameras streaming the undersea world in realtime to researchers around the world and anyone interested in life beneath the surface of the sea...