Coral Reefs of Canada: Pacific Coast Rocky Reefs


The ocean covers about 70% of the Earth’s surface and in all that water there are tons of species. Did you know that up to 38,000 different types of microorganisms can be found in a single liter of ocean water! Tropical coral reefs are one of the most diverse habitats, with tons of different species calling it home. Reefs can also be found further north; off of Canada’s coast there are the Atlantic deep-water coral habitat and the Pacific rocky reef habitat. Last month we looked at some amazing deep-water coral off the coast of Atlantic Canada. Now we’re heading west to explore the Pacific reefs.

In Western Waters

In the waters off of British Columbia’s coast you’ll find one of the most diverse habitats in the entire country. These rocky reefs have 1,185 known species, including fish, like quillback and yelloweye rockfish, as well as marine animals like cloud sponges, glass sponges and tubeworms. Over 80 species of cold-water corals have been identified or are believed to exist in these coastal B.C. waters. These reefs cover areas that have a wide range of depth, some as shallow as 3-35m. As their name suggests, these reefs have rocky ridges, cliffs and boulders. Scientists have been surveying the rocky reefs for the past 44 years to learn about the animals that live here and what threats they face. Scientists working with the Vancouver Aquarium are helping to protect the rocky reefs and species like the rockfish from such threats as overfishing and ocean acidification.

Here are some of the incredible species of coral that live in Canada’s rocky reefs.

bubblegum coral
Bubblegum coral (Paragorgia arborea). Credit: NOAA/Monterey Bay Aquarium
red tree coral
Red tree coral. Photo Credit: Flickr User, Silvia Centomo
white stylaster and yellow octocoral
White stylaster coral in left background. Credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, INDEX-SATAL 2010
Red Tree Coral (Primnoa sp.) and Bubblegum Coral (Paragorgia sp.)
Red Tree Coral (Primnoa sp.) and Bubblegum Coral (Paragorgia sp.). Photo Credit: Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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