Beneath the waves of Canada’s three oceans and inland bodies of water lies a world of spectacular biodiversity that few people ever get to see, but which is just as vital to the health of the planet as terrestrial ecosystems. Coral and sponge reefs and kelp forests support an amazing array of life, making them important feeding grounds for seabirds, marine mammals, and commercially important fish species.
As science reveals the interconnectedness of all Earth’s natural systems, countries around the world are beginning to take action to protect their special marine places. In the November/December 2018 issue of Canadian Geographic, Boris Worm, a marine ecologist and professor in the department of biology at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, looks at Canada’s ongoing efforts to protect 10 per cent of its marine and coastal areas by 2020.
Worm highlights several “Areas of Interest” on Canada’s East Coast that have been identified as candidates for federal protection, including the outer Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore Islands, and the Banc-des-Américains (American Bank) off the eastern tip of Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula. Where once Marine Protected Areas were designated to protect endangered species on a case-by-case basis, Fisheries and Oceans Canada now considers the broad panoply of life in a marine ecosystem to create comprehensive plans that will conserve species richness while sustaining resource industries.
The photos below, by Vancouver-based architect and dive enthusiast Eli Wolpin, offer a glimpse at the delicate beauty of federally- and provincially-protected marine parks on the west coast, including Whytecliff Park in West Vancouver, Canada’s first Marine Protected Area.