Sea of glass

Sea of Glass

In 1987 a remarkable discovery was made just off the BC coast. 200 metres below the surface, in the inky blackness of the deep sea, Canadian scientists found an underwater oasis exploding with life: gigantic reefs built by fragile glass sponges. The reefs cover hundreds of square kilometers of sea floor and in some places reach the height of an eight story building. British Columbia’s Sea of Glass is a Canadian national treasure.
Photo credit: Neil McDaniel

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An underwater jurassic park

An underwater jurassic park

Giant fossil cliffs in Germany. Photo: Sabine Jessen

Giant fossil cliffs in Germany. Photo: Sabine Jessen

While dinosaurs roamed the earth, huge glass sponge reefs thrived in prehistoric seas. The reefs were thought have gone extinct about 40 million years ago, leaving only giant fossil cliffs behind that stretch across parts of Portugal, Spain and France and Germany across Eastern Europe to Romania. That was until 1987 when a team of Canadian scientists discovered 9,000 year-old living glass sponge reefs on British Columbia’s north coast.

Photo credit: Sally Leys/Miriam O/ROPOS

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What is a glass sponge?

What is a glass sponge?

Glass sponges are some of the oldest and simplest animals on earth. They don’t have eyes or even a stomach, yet they do some amazing things. Glass sponges build intricate skeletons out of silica (glass) that provide many other animals with a home, and they filter vast quantities of bacteria from seawater.

Photo credit: Sally Leys/Miriam O/ROPOS

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Saving the sea of glass

Saving the sea of glass

Soon after their discovery scientists observed large stretches of the reefs that had been completely destroyed. The fragile glass sponges had been crushed by heavy fishing gear that was dragged over the reefs. Scientists, fishermen and conservationists are working with the government to protect the glass sponge reefs before they are lost forever.

Video still credit: Jackson Chu and Sally Leys/ROPOS

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Take action

Take Action

Our glass sponge reefs are a national treasure, but without protection they might disappear again, this time forever. The reefs need your help.

Show your support for BC’s Sea of Glass and tell the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coastguard that BC’s glass sponge reefs need better protection.

Send your letter today.

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Photo credit: Sally Leys/DFO/ROPOS