Dive 1 - Lions Bay Glass Sponge Bioherm, February 23, 2013.
History was made during UCBC's first Exploratory Dive when two divers descended 218 feet through murky waters and became the first humans to lay eyes upon the glass sponge bioherm on the Lions Bay Seamount.
Glass Sponge Bioherms are reefs composed entirely of living cloud sponge which is growing on top of a mountain of dead sponge.
These accumulations of sponge can rise hundreds of feet from the sea floor and evidence suggests that they serve as nurseries for rockfish and lingcod.
The Lions Bay Seamount is one of eight recently discovered bioherms in Howe Sound, British Columbia.
This particular seamount has been extensively surveyed by sonar and drop camera but had never been dove before.
This Exploratory Dive, a joint endeavour for The Underwater Council of British Columbia, was the result of months of careful planning and was accomplished by an excellent team of divers, photographers, precision boat handlers and support personnel.
The goal of the exploratory dive was to acquire video footage which will form the climax of Cradles Of Glass, a documentary on glass sponge in Howe Sound. With this documentary, we hope to raise the public awareness of glass sponge and their possible connection to the life cycle of rockfish in Howe Sound.
Technical divers Hamish Tweed and Chris Straub, burdened with a staggering collection of gear, dropped from the deck of the Topline into the calm water of Howe Sound.
Photographers and videographers aboard two support vessels captured all the action topside. Below the surface, a videographer followed the trimix divers down to 50 feet and watched them descend into blackness toward the bioherm.
80 minutes later, they returned to the surface with awestruck expressions and stunning video footage.
The editing process has already begun and we wait with great anticipation for the release of Cradles Of Glass and the beginning of protection for Howe Sound’s glass sponge bioherms.
Special thanks to Larry Pynn of The Vancouver Sun for reporting on this historic dive and to Wendy Goodridge of Zoll Medical Corporation for supplying a portable AED.
• The Effect of Seafloor Topography on the Formation and Growth of Glass Sponge Bioherms in Howe Sound, British Columbia. Dennison, Kelsey. Princeton University. 2013.
• Biodiversity and rockfish recruitment in sponge gardens and bioherms of southern British Columbia, Canada. Jeffrey Burton Marliave, Kim W. Conway, Donna M. Gibbs, Andy Lamb, Charles Gibbs. Marine Biology. 2012; 156(11):2247-2254.