Tsunamis and Mystery Migration

Today is the 54th anniversary of one of the most powerful recorded earthquakes recorded in U.S. history. The quake hit Alaska, registering 9.2 on the Richter scale. Its epicenter was in Prince William Sound and, 120 kilometers northwest, it destroyed about 30 city blocks in Anchorage. The resulting tsunami smashed into Prince Rupert three hours later but the worst was yet to come.

The tsunami reached Port Alberni on Vancouver Island just after midnight on March 28, 1964 and the wave gained momentum as it funneled up the Alberni Canal. Shoved into 40 kilometers of river bed meant the wave amplified and it struck the small B.C. town with all its might – four times. Miraculously, despite the upended cars and homes, nobody was killed.

One of the disaster’s legacies was the creation of the continent’s first tsunami early warning system. Technological advancements have also meant the ocean floor is studied like we’ve never before experienced.

The wild coast of Vancouver Island, directly west of SeaLuxe headquarters in Crescent Beach, is home to all sorts of marine life. Landlubbers can see some of these underwater marvels thanks to a something called a cabled observatory. NEPTUNE is considered the largest cabled undersea observatory in the world. It is 850 kilometers long and stretches, outfitted with webcams and scientific instruments, from Port Alberni to the Cascadia Basin along the floor of the sea. Ocean Networks Canada runs the observatory along with another local cable that runs from the Saanich Inlet across the Strait of Georgia to the Fraser River delta.

The cables exist collect data on many different aspects of the ocean including its physical, chemical, and biological state to its geological traits. The data collected helps to educate those involved in ocean management, disaster mitigation (such as tsunamis), and take steps to towards environmental protection.

“The state of the ocean is an important indicator of the overall health of the planet,” reads Ocean Networks Canada’s mission statement. “The ocean off the coasts of Canada, including the Arctic, comprises some of the richest and most diverse ecosystems on Earth.”

The videos posted by ONC are absolutely incredible. Take this one for instance. It shows hundreds upon hundreds of crabs crawling over the seabed in a mass migration? Why? That’s yet to be determined but we’ll be sure to keep following the ONC and its discoveries.

More interesting footage available includes the Pacific spiny dogfish swimming in the Campbell River. These fish are approximately five feet long and can live up to 80 years old. 

We feel it's appropriate to end this post with a quote from poet and writer Anne Stevenson: “The sea is as near as we come to another world.”