Artificial reef created off East Sooke

Divers are discovering plenty of new sea life

Weeks after large rocks were sunk off East Sooke, divers are discovering plenty of new sea life.

The rock will create a small artificial reef in Moonlight Bay, between Possession and Pike points.

Divers kept a close eye on the new reef for signs of life, and it took only a few days.

RELATED: Claremont students help build reef balls for Inner Harbour

“I was stunned,” said diver Michael Thornton.

“I went down thinking I was going to see the rocks, and there was so much sea life. It was like a whole bunch of people moved in.”

The reef, constructed by the proponent of the proposed Silver Spray Marina, was constructed to offset impacts to fish habitat that will result from construction of the marina.

SookePoint Ocean Cottage Resort donated the rock, which was used to raise the ocean floor about 20 feet, so the reef would sit at a depth of about 25 feet – perfect to grow an undersea garden of kelp forest.

The stacked rock also creates walks, channels, caves and passage way for sea life and other vegetation.

“It is expected that kelp and other marine life will establish on the reef to enhance habitat for fish,” said Dan Bate, acting regional director for communications with the federal Fisheries Department.

The area of the reef is small – about 80 feet long and 20 feet wide – but it creates habitat in a once barren portion of seabed.

So far, sea urchins, ling cod and star fish are populating the reef, Thornton said.

And there’s more to come.

The Fisheries Department will monitor the area over the next five years, and plan to seed bull kelp in the area.

“It’s really quite exciting to see how well [the reef] is doing already,” said Thornton, a proponent of SookePoint Ocean Cottage Resort.

Thornton said he shouldn’t be overly surprised on the early success of the artificial reef since it was built by the same volcanic rock that graces the ocean floor.

Fisheries Department officials are not aware of any other small reef projects in the area.



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

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