British Columbia leads the way in ocean observatory science
Over the last seven years, the Government of British Columbia has joined the Government of Canada in investing in the development of the world’s largest and most advanced cabled observatory—the Ocean Networks Canada Observatory. Through fibre optic cable, seafloor nodes and innovative scientific equipment, the observatory is changing the way we study the ocean, providing scientific evidence for policy-makers on a wide range of critical issues, and developing new worldleading technologies that will create jobs and economic opportunities for British Columbians.
Today, the NEPTUNE Canada regional network and the VENUS coastal network—which together make up the ONC Observatory—are streaming live data from the ocean floor through the internet to scientists, policy-makers and the public around the world. Continuous observations at key sites in the northeast Pacific Ocean and coastal Salish Sea are helping to address global challenges, manage marine resources, monitor regional environmental and climate change and detect hazards to coastal communities.
ONC draws the world to BC
Innovative technologies are attracting the attention of national and international media. Examples include The Economist, New York Times, Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, National Post, Globe and Mail, BBC News, CBC-TV’s The National, CTV, Canada AM, Xinhua news service, Der Tagesspiegel, National Geographic and Lenta Ru (Russia).
ONC’s education programs are embedding ocean science and technology into classrooms in British Columbia and across Canada, equipping the next generation of science leaders and decision-makers to meet the ocean-based challenges and seize the economic and environmental opportunities in our future.
Innovative programs using social media connect the public with the ocean. They are educating students in K-12, their families and the public through partnerships with schools and school boards in BC. And they are attracting research and technology leaders from across Canada and around the world.
ONC is helping to protect British Columbians from earthquakes and tsunamis
As coastal environmental issues escalate in BC and around the world, so does the need for smart, sophisticated monitoring and informed policy advice.
NEPTUNE Canada’s offshore sensors detect approaching tsunamis, providing earlier warnings—essential information for BC emergency organizations and residents. NEPTUNE Canada’s earthquake monitoring provides data that are informing revisions of the National Building Code of Canada, helping to minimize risks to BC residents and property.
Monitoring by the VENUS network of the Fraser River’s underwater delta reveals slope stability changes that are of significance to the nearby coal port, container terminal and Tsawwassen ferry terminal.
New coastal monitoring by the VENUS network will report live weather and sea states in the Salish Sea, helping all vessels make safe decisions.
ONC draws investment to BC
The ocean sector accounts for eight per cent of BC jobs and seven per cent of BC’s GDP.
The ONC Innovation Centre helps Canadian companies in this vital sector develop new products and services and gain entry points to new markets worldwide. That means new jobs in growing industries for British Columbians.
As one example, the need by the VENUS and NEPTUNE Canada networks for high-performance, innovative technology spurred a partnership with OceanWorks International in North Vancouver that has led to new product lines and new markets for the company. OceanWorks recently secured a major international contract in the Mediterranean for subsea technologies proven on the VENUS and NEPTUNE Canada networks.
ONC supports our multi-faceted marine industries
ONC’s long-term monitoring quantifies changes in marine environments and impacts on resources, helping shape sustainable resource management.
Pipelines from Alberta across northern BC to coastal ports have received government approval. Their use will lead to increased ship traffic along the coast. ONC monitoring of major ocean currents and ecosystems help decision-makers understand and predict the consequences of a spill, and allow for effective critical response planning.
Marine monitoring helps track ocean productivity, including the growth and impact of phytoplankton blooms, key to productive BC fisheries and to mitigating the commercial and health effects of harmful red tides. Acoustic monitoring in both networks shows strong promise for further improvements in measuring fish stocks and predicting returns.
VENUS hydrophones in the Strait of Georgia and those of NEPTUNE Canada off western Vancouver Island help gauge the health of killer whales and other marine mammals—cornerstone species in BC’s growing ecotourism industry.