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“Mr. Stinky” in Ottawa today for Oceans Day announcement

Submerged Jurassic Park off BC expected to move towards protection

Ottawa – CPAWS National Oceans Program Manager Sabine Jessen will be attending an announcement at 11:30 today at the Museum of Nature where Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea is expected to declare an “Area of Interest” for a future Marine Protected Area in the Hecate Strait around the massive glass sponge reefs, considered one of the great wonders in Canada’s oceans. 

Jessen has brought a specimen of the 9,000 year-old glass sponge reefs with her to Ottawa from British Columbia. “Mr Stinky” is from these spectacular reefs, some living 250 metres deep, that cover up to 1,000 km2 off the coast of British Columbia as far north as Hecate Strait and as far south as B.C.\'s Sunshine Coast and the Strait of Georgia, including off Galiano Island.

“Mr Stinky comes from the only living glass sponge reefs known in the world. They are precious beyond words. We are so glad that they are finally on a firm road to permanent protection,” says Jessen.

Thought to have gone extinct 30 million years ago, the 1987 discovery of these reefs in Hecate Strait stunned the scientific community. “According to the world’s foremost expert on these sponges, it was like finding a herd of dinosaurs still alive on land,” says Jessen. Today’s announcement means that the ban on bottom trawling – an activity that instantly destroys these fragile glass sponge reefs – will remain in perpetuity, instead of one-year renewals.

Originally from the Southern Strait of Georgia, Mr. Stinky was brought up from the sea floor by scientists from Natural Resources Canada on a research trip in October 2006. The staff of CPAWS-BC first met him in November 2006 when he joined a speaking tour to coastal B.C. communities. It only took a few hours in an enclosed van before he had earned his name.

As time goes on, his smell is thankfully becoming less pronounced. While it was once noted that his smell was like "something rotting on the beach", someone recently commented that he now smells "like cereal" or "Horlicks", which is a definite improvement.

CPAWS is calling on the government to accelerate the establishment of a network of marine protected areas on all of Canada’s coasts, especially in light of the recent oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.



Contact: Sabine Jessen, CPAWS National Oceans Program Manager, 604-657-2813

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