Tuesday March 12, 2024


It started with a tip from the local First Nation of a “bump on the sea floor” where the fish liked to be and led to the discovery of Canada’s only known live coral reef.

Deep sea ecologist Cherisse Du Preez worked with the Kitasoo Xai’xais and Heiltsuk First Nations and began searching for the Lophelia coral reef in 2021, taking a remote controlled submersible deep into the ocean in Finlayson Channel, about 500 kilometres northwest of Vancouver.

On what was to be their team’s last dive for the expedition they found it, a “thriving, beautiful,” ecosystem about 200 metres down.

“You light it up and you realize you’re the first person to ever see this, beautiful pinks and purples and yellows, crevasses, mounts. And once you see past the corals, you realize that there are other animals on them,” said Du Preez, who’s the head of the deepsea ecology program with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

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