A change both remarkable and concerning is taking place in the waters off the province’s coast – in an area some are calling “tropical B.C.”
A group of scientists and divers are sharing incredible footage and photos that show warm-water sharks, sunfish and dolphins roaming the waters of the Pacific Northwest.
“[We’re] diving and exploring and documenting the changing ocean that we’re experiencing,“ said Ian McAllister, a conservation photographer with Pacific Wild, a non-profit wildlife advocacy group.
A group of scientists and divers are sharing incredible footage and photos that show warm-water sharks, sunfish and dolphins roaming the waters of the Pacific Northwest, but say it could be coming at a cost. (Courtesy Pacific Wild)
“The species that we’re documenting are largely predatory, and from the vast schools of jellyfish that’re stretching from Alaska down to California preying on juvenile salmon, to mackerel and Mola mola sunfish, to tuna and sharks coming in shore: these are all having a significant impact on the native life that our coastal ecosystem is built from.”
Part of the surprising transformation is taking place in a patch of coastal water about 240 kilometres off the north coast of Vancouver Island – where the continental shelf drops off into about 2,400 metres of water.
“On the one hand, it’s amazing, it’s fascinating to be diving with species that I’ve never seen before in these waters,” he said. “They’re not just rare visitors but they seem to be doing quite well here. The problem of course is that this is happening at such a rapid rate and on such a profound scale.”
Warm-water species are becoming more comfortable farther and farther north as research organizations like the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration say the sea is warming rapidly.