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· Light and Life in the Ocean
· Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nations
· A Coastal Place
This is a link to a map of the waters of British Columbia with optional close-ups of the Southeastern Valleys and Vancouver Island's West Coast.

FOCUS  Vancouver Island’s West Coast - Coastal Waters

Light and Life in the Ocean
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This is a photograph of kelp on intertidal rocks.
Kelp on intertidal rocks. Richard Cannings.
Life in the dark depths below the photic zone is given over to a food chain based on the consumption of detritus, the nutrient-rich rain of dead plants and animals that constantly falls from the sunlit waters above. This rain of detritus continually removes that third requirement for plant life – nutrients – from the photic zone. Marine life can flourish only where these nutrients are recycled to the surface by upwelling currents or where they are replaced by nutrients in the outflow of rivers.

These conditions are met along many coastlines of the world. More than half of the plant material (biomass) in the oceans consists of seaweeds anchored to intertidal (that region of the shoreline between the high and low tides) and subtidal (habitat below the level of the lowest tide) rocks. Most of the world's fisheries are concentrated in small areas of rich coastal upwellings; beyond the continental shelves, nutrient levels are usually so low that the open oceans are biological deserts.

Ochre Stars on intertidal rocks. Richard Cannings.
This is a photograph of Ochre Stars, also known as Starfish or Seastars, on intertidal rocks.
Opalescent Squid mating. RBCM.
This is a photograph of Opalescent Squid mating.
Copper Rockfish. RBCM.
This is a photograph of a Copper Rockfish.
Tufted Puffins breed in burrows on grassy islets at the edge of the open ocean. They eat fish, and spend the winter far out at sea. Richard Cannings.
This is a photograph of a Tufted Puffin with a fish in its beak.
Marine plants have little need to be large. Giant kelp will grow from spores settling 30 or 40 metres or so beneath the surface, but below that it is too dark for growth. Along the shore, the pounding surf makes being small a distinct advantage, but it is in the open ocean where smallness is truly a big thing. There, 90 per cent of the biomass consists of plants and animals so small that they cannot swim against the slow oceanic currents. These creatures, drifting at the whim of the currents, are the plankton. The plantlike drifters are the phytoplankton; the animals are the zooplankton.
Bull Kelp forest. RBCM.
This is a photograph of a Bull Kelp forest.
Light and Life in the Ocean -