AND YET IT WORKS! Replenishing and Restoring Ocean Pastures, Something Wonderful Has Happened

AND YET IT WORKS! Replenishing and Restoring Ocean Pastures, Something Wonderful Has Happened

A friend reminds me to accentuate the positive.

Sometimes it is the simple messages that are the most important. In a month where I’ve had my flesh torn and bones broken by ambushing media hounds and then pinned to the wall of our science lab by a massively threatening SWAT team it’s a bit hard to gets ones mind and body to think positive.

What has carried me through all of this is the simple fact that the work with the village of Old Massett has been and remains something wonderful. The people, their friendship, and support is a blessing. The scientific discoveries are nothing short of astonishing. All in all for the effort of taking one single fishing boat load of our favourite rock dust out to the village ocean pasture we managed to bring that pasture back to life.

That life returned to the pasture is unquestionable. It is that something wonderful that one hopes just once in a lifetime to have a part in. I’ll be trying to write some posts in this category of “It Works” to balance the posts that bear witness to the despicable parts of this saga.

The Story So Far (written as the ship was returning home last September.)

The Haida (Hi Da) Salmon Restoration project is nearing completion of its ship borne work and the team of sailors, scientists, and fishers are now heading to the Haida Village of Old Massett and home. This summer the crew has been aboard ship engaging in what is surely the most substantial ocean restoration project in history.

In a large ocean eddy west of Haida Gwaii the project has replenished vital ocean mineral micronutrients, with the expectation and hope it would restore ten thousand square kilometers of ocean pasture to health. Indeed this has occurred and the waters of the Haida eddy have turned from clear blue and sparse of life into a verdant emerald sea lush with the growth of a hundred million tonnes of plankton and the entire food chain it supports. The growth of those tonnes of plankton derives from vast amounts of CO2 now diverted from becoming deadly ocean acid and instead made that same CO2 become ocean life itself.

For weeks the men and women, on this village team toiled in stormy overcast weather and fog without a hint of blue sky. In mid-August the skies cleared and revealed the wonder of the mission on which they have laboured. Satellites focused on ocean health that monitor and measure plankton blooms sent back stunning images. Far offshore in these Haida salmon pastures a vast plankton bloom is revealed matching the health and vibrancy of blooms seen in rich coastal waters. The return of such blooms is “the stuff dreams are made of” for all ocean life.

In addition to the focused study the accomplished mission of the project also included detailed oceanographic studies of the near-by Bowie Sea-Mount Marine Protected area, the near shore and famous Haida Eddy, and the coastal ocean from Vancouver north to the study region.

The greatest migration on Earth.

Each day and night the sonars and other instruments reveal a rapid change in the bloom. As the phytoplankton bloom grows tiny zooplankton that graze upon those ocean plants respond both in number and behaviour.

During daylight hours the zooplankton are 300 meters down resting on the “deep thermocline” layer. As daylight wanes each evening their nightly migration to the surface pastures begins. There they engorge themselves with the blooms “fresh greens.” By morning light they swim back to the dark depths and safety where like bucolic cows they rest and digest.

The team is here to watch, measure, and captures samples of this ‘greatest migration’ on Earth. Russ George the chief scientist describes the spectacle, “It is as if we are perched in a tree on the great plains of Africa privileged to witness the great herds of beasts as they run past. Here there are animals of every size and shape albeit in mostly miniature planktonic forms. We see the salps, jellies, copepods, amphipods, krill, and more.” Mysteriously rare and missing are the pteropods but that’s another story.

Sea life from near and far are drawn to an ocean oasis.

That this wondrous plankton growth is beneficial is perfectly clear as is seen in the immediate shift from scarcity to abundance in sea life of all kinds. Spouting plumes of misty breath from the great whales, Fins, Seis, Sperms, and Orcas reveal the most obvious herds attracted to and now thriving on this renewed pasture. Two months ago, before the bloom, whale sightings were so few that not more than five or six were seen during weeks at sea. Now every day shows at least that many, some days whales are counted by the score. read the entire narrative here…