Our Ship cruise to the Hecate Strait sponge reefs was jointly funded by NSERC and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. DFO has been funded under Canada's National Conservation Plan to study the reefs to come up with ways of protecting and monitoring the habitat. To this end, DFO joined with Leys and with a Strategic Network called CHONeII to provide data on a) the function/role of reefs in Hecate Strait, b) the effect of sediment on that function, and c) to evaluate potential ways of future monitoring of the reefs. Two CHONeII students are charged with analyzing this data: Lauren Law and Tristan Kivari.
Our objectives for the cruise combined basic research interests held by Leys and her colleagues to understand the sensitivity of glass sponges, together with applied work to map and evaluate the coverage of live sponges relative to area thought to be sponge reef as identified by side scan sonar and multibeam mapping, and to determine the filtration capacity (effect on water column properties - bacteria, nutrients and potentially dissolved carbon), metabolic cost of filtration, the effect of sediment on sponge filtration.
We were hugely challenged by weather - only getting 36hours at the reefs in a whole 10 day cruise. However preparation and hard work of the team meant that we obtained a huge amount of data both from the reefs and nearby fjord sponges. Below are three examples of the work we carried out.