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After years of contamination, waters at Victoria International Marina now thriving


Grade 3 students from Willows Elementary School visited the the Victoria International Marina on Wednesday morning for some hands-on learning. It was a lesson on how a healthy marine ecosystem can be restored after years of human-caused damage.

Fourth-year University of Victoria marine biology student Kea McKay played tour guide for the day.

“I’m hoping to take them dock fouling, which is where you lean over a dock and look at all the marine life that's growing underneath,” said McKay.

Life under the docks has become abundant.

“There has just been this burst of wildlife that has come,” said McKay.

It is a rebirth five years in the making.

“This area was mainly used as a boom yard,” said Craig Norris, CEO of the Victoria International Marina.

In the early 1900s, industrial operations saw the seafloor covered with metres of bark Mulch. It would stunt any sea life from growing until a new marina had a different idea for the waters below.

“All of that has been stripped out,” said Norris. “We went right down to the marine clays and it was repopulated with sands and gravels."

Large reef balls were sunk to the ocean floor to provide a habitat for plants and crabs. That attracted seals and, in December, those seals brought some hungry transient orcas into the harbour looking for lunch.

“That was probably something that was very common over 100 years ago and it’s really nice to see that we’re doing the work that is necessary to provide the atmosphere for them to come back,” said Norris.

With sea life now flourishing below the marina’s docks, the international marina has thrown out an invite to UVic’s Marine Sciences Department.

“We have a chance to get some field work in and study the marine life in this area,” said McKay.

Work typically done in Bamfield can now be completed in the university's own backyard.

“To have something in downtown Victoria was so huge for all of us,” said the UVic student. Top Stories

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