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Howe Sound Glass Sponge Reefs, A UNESCO World Heritage Site — How We Can Be Better Marine Stewards.

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

Howe Sound, British Columbia.
Howe Sound, British Columbia.

The Howe Sound is a body of water located in southwestern British Columbia, Canada. It is a large fjord that stretches from the city of Squamish to the Strait of Georgia, and is surrounded by mountains and forests.

The Howe Sound is home to a number of unique and diverse marine ecosystems, including glass sponge reefs.

Glass sponge reefs are rare and fragile marine habitats that are found in only a few locations around the world. They are made up of sponges that have a skeleton made of silica, a hard, transparent mineral that is similar to glass.

These sponges are able to filter large amounts of water, and play an important role in the marine environment by helping to clean the water and provide habitat for other marine life.

The glass sponge reefs in the Howe Sound are considered a unique and important part of the region’s natural heritage, and have recently been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

They are home to a wide variety of marine life, including fish, crabs, and other invertebrates. These reefs are also important to the local economy, as they provide habitat for fish that are important to the fishing industry.

Despite their importance, glass sponge reefs are also vulnerable to damage and destruction. They are fragile and can be easily damaged by human activities such as fishing, oil and gas exploration, and pollution.

It is our job to protect these waters to ensure that future generations can enjoy their beauty and marine diversity.

Sailing in Howe Sound can be a beautiful and enjoyable experience. To protect the marine waters of Howe Sound, there are a few things we as mariners can do while sailing:

  1. Follow local regulations and laws related to marine conservation and First Nations land ownership and follow them while on the water. Over 70 First Nations have traditional territory in coastal British Columbia and have served as stewards over them since time immemorial. BC Marine Trails are a non-profit working with First Nations and stakeholders to build and protect marine trails. Their mission is “to work with First Nations and stakeholders to build, protect and promote a public network of marine trails allowing recreational navigation of the BC coastline with minimal impact on the environment.” Visit their page as part of your trip-planning preparation.

  2. Consider supporting organizations (such as BC Marine Trails above) that work to protect marine environments and promote sustainable practices.

  3. Use environmentally-friendly products cleaning and maintenance products that are biodegradable and non-toxic to marine life.

  4. Properly dispose of any trash and sewage to prevent pollution of the water.

  5. Respect the marine life and avoid disturbing it or damaging its habitat.


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