Banner Photo Credit and Description: Diane Reid; Juvenile fish swarm a glass sponge pinnacle in Nootka Sound

Prey, Predators, and Habitat


Pacific Sand Lance

Ammodytes hexapterus

Depth: 0-20 m  · SARA Status: Not listed  · COSEWIC Status: Not assessed

Habitat Use and Behaviour: Form vast, densely packed schools near wharves and pilings. Swim with a distinctive wavy snake-like motion. Wriggle into sand tail first. Important food for seabirds and other fishes.

Northern Anchovy

Engraulis mordax

SARA Status: Not listed  · COSEWIC Status: Not assessed

 

Eulachon

Thaleichthys pacificus

Depth: 0-20 m ·  SARA Status: Not listed · COSEWIC Status: Special Concern (Nass/Skeena population); Endangered (Central Pacific coast and Fraser populations)

Habitat Use and Behaviour: Spawn in freshwater on sand or gravel and rear in estuaries. Juveniles seek out deeper water as they grow, feed at moderate depths of inshore water.

Surf Smelt

Hypomesus pretiosus

SARA Status: Not listed  · COSEWIC Status: Not assessed

Habitat Use and Behaviour: They spawn in the summer when they swarm to sandy beaches. Use nearshore and pelagic habitats, estuary, eelgrass, mudflats, and muddy sand-gravel beaches.

 

Pacific Herring

Clupea pallasii

Depth: 0-200 m  · SARA Status: Not listed  · COSEWIC Status: Not assessed

Habitat Use and Behaviour: They spawn (March – April) on intertidal and subtidal vegetation (filamentous and branching red algae, sea grasses, rockweed kelp, brown algae, cobble beaches, and kelp). Move seaward in September. They prefer shallow bays along shores.


Steller Sea Lion

Eumetopias jubatus

Size: 3.3 m (males), 2.9 m (females) ·  SARA Status: Special Concern ·  COSEWIC Status: Special Concern

Appearance: Large light blonde to reddish brown. Black flippers and hairless parts of skin.

Habitat Use and Behaviour: Opportunistic feeders. Nearshore and pelagic foragers. Prefer gravel, rocky or sand beaches, and rocky reefs.

 

California Sea Lion

Zalophus californianus

Size: 2.3 m (males), 1.8 m (females) ·  SARA Status: Not listed ·  COSEWIC Status: Not at risk

Appearance: Dark brown with broad foreflippers and a long narrow snout. Definitive scooped forehead.

Habitat Use and Behaviour: Feed in areas of upwelling on forage fish, cephalopods, rockfishes. Prefer sandy beaches, shallow and estuarine waters.


Harbour Seal

Phoca vitulina

Size: 2 m ·  SARA Status: Not listed ·  COSEWIC Status: Not at risk

Appearance: Blue-grey back with light and dark speckling. Dog-like snouts.

Habitat Use and Behaviour: Prey consist of fish, shellfish, and crustaceans. Use rocks, reefs, and beaches as haul out and pupping sites.

 

 

 

Killer Whale/Orca

Orcinus orca

Size: 6-8 m ·  SARA Status: Endangered (Southern Resident population); Threatened (Northern resident, Biggs, Offshore populations) ·  COSEWIC Status: Endangered (Southern resident population); Threatened (Biggs, Northern resident, Offshore populations)

Appearance: Distinctive black backs, white bellies, white-grey saddle patches behind the dorsal fin. Tail flukes are black on top and white beneath.

Habitat Use and Behaviour: Feed on a variety of prey ranging from fish to marine mammals depending on the population. Active at the surface.


Bull Kelp

Nereocystic leutkeana

Height: Up to 36 m

Appearance: Attaches to benthic substrate with numerous haptera (finger-like projections). At ocean surface smooth blades branch from a single floating bulb. Each narrow blade is up to four metres long.

Habitat Use and Behaviour: Bull kelp is an annual plant that grows in one season (between March and September). It grows approximately 17 cm per day. It attaches to subtidal rock clusters and forms surface canopies. It prefers areas with significant water flow, but grows in sheltered to fully exposed waters.

Critical habitat and management considerations: Reefs should be situated in regions where that facilitate this plants growth. Consider light availability, current, and depth.

Giant Kelp

Macrocystis pyrifera

Height: Up to 55 m

Appearance: Numerous blades branch from a common stem that reaches to the ocean surface. Individuals congregate to form vast kelp forests.

Habitat Use and Behaviour: The BC ecotype inhabits the lower intertidal and upper subtidal regions in areas with moderate waves.

Critical habitat and management considerations: Consider light abundance, wave energy, and substrate when constructing reefs that this species will colonize.

 

 


Eelgrass

Zostera marina

Height: Up to 3 m long, blades generally 4 mm width,

Appearance: Dull green blades are flat. Live on soft marine bottoms.

Habitat Use and Behaviour: Flowering and seed-producing plant. Tend to curb erosion by holding down and trapping sediment. Usually occur in wave-protected areas.

Critical habitat and management considerations: Consider appropriate water quality, sedimentation and light regimes, substrate, and wave and tidal current action that occurs at potential transplant sites.

Fringed Sea Colander

Neoagarum fimbriatum

Height: 80 cm

Appearance: Long dark brown puckered blades branch from narrow stem. Attaches with a narrow branched haptera. Flotation blubs attach to the stem.

Habitat Use and Behaviour: It is a perennial plant that grows in deeper subtidal regions to 20m. Prefers semi-exposed waters.

Critical habitat and management considerations: Consider light abundance, wave energy, and substrate when constructing reefs that this species will colonize.

Photo Credit: Bernard Hanby

Photo Credit: Bernard Hanby


Glass Sponges

Hexactinellida

Height: 10-30 cm

Appearance: Cup shaped with lattice-like internal skeletons. Central cavity. See banner photo for glass sponge with a coonstripe shrimp taking refuge.

Habitat Use and Behaviour: Can fuse together to form bioherms that are used by a variety of marine life, such as juvenile and adult rockfish, spot prawns, and sharks. They are very long-lived.

Critical habitat and management considerations: These organisms are highly fragile. Since fishes are attracted to the bioherms, increased fishing activity can significantly damage the sponges unless monitoring and regulation occurs.