KUNAMOKST - West Coast Mural Mosaic

Elisabeth McClelland


Wrecking Ball: Glass Sponge Reef

Panel before

Artist Comments:
Until 1988, Glass Sponge Reefs were known only as immense Cretaceous era fossil formations built 200- 40 million years ago. It was a great surprise when living reefs were found 200 metres deep in Hecate Strait, B.C., growing up to 35 km.long, 15 km. wide, and 25 metres tall. Through 2007, researchers have found several smaller reefs in shallower waters of the Strait of Georgia and 1 large one off the Washington coast.  The areas around these fragile reef formations show higher levels of fish production than in the surrounding waters. Their complex 3-dimensional structures serve as valuable habitat concentrating nutrients and safety for diverse organisms and creating protective nurseries for countless young, including rockfish, flat fish, lingcod, octopus, crab, shrimp, and scallop.
Living here for 9,000 years, the reefs are now threatened by commercial and sport fisheries that drop trap lines on them, pull trawl nets across them and drag down-rigger “cannonball” weights through them.  Uniquely formed of a silica crystal skeletal structure covered by thin living tissue, the fragile sponges are torn apart or pulled up in nets as by-catch. They grow extremely slowly.
Help protect these reefs, found nowhere else in the world, within a National Marine Conservation Area!



Species in the Glass Sponge Reef  painting:  Cloud Sponge (Aphrocallistes vastus), Spiny lithode crab, squat “lobster”, Longhorn decorator crab, Redbanded rockfish and juvenile Quillback rockfish.