BSc Honours Marine Biology, Dalhousie University
Masters of Resource Management, TMEL, Simon Fraser University
What I am now
Biologist, Pacific Biological Station, DFO
Deep-sea coral provide valuable habitat for fish and other organisms but they are highly susceptible to anthropogenic threats. The most serious threats are posed by benthic fisheries, most notably bottom trawling, and other human activities that disturb the seafloor. Recent surveys of deep-sea coral suggest that they have been damaged or destroyed in virtually all parts of the world. To date, most deep-sea coral in Canada are unprotected. There is a particularly pressing need to develop a conservation strategy for deep-sea coral in BC, but it is not a simple task. Relatively little coral research has been conducted in BC, and the distribution of deep-sea coral remains largely unknown. The vast majority of sightings are derived from bycatch data from the trawl fishery and only provide information on the locations of previously damaged corals. Determining the distribution of deep-sea coral and identifying pristine coral aggregations is a crucial first step in establishing effective ocean management strategies to protect these rare and valuable habitats. My MSc project made a significant contribution toward addressing these information gaps. Future research priorities include ground-truthing the predictions of this study and providing advice for developing a conservation strategy for deep-sea coral in BC.