Northeast Pacific Ocean

In the Northeast Pacific ocean, ONC is observing changes in the timing, intensity, and chemical properties of upwelled waters, nutrient availability, and primary production. To quantify these changes, ONC is committed to continuous, long-term recording of temperature, salinity, direction and intensity of water currents, dissolved oxygen distributions, pH and pCO2 using sensors installed on the North East Pacific Time-series Underwater Networked Experiments (NEPTUNE) observatory. The NEPTUNE shore station at Port Alberni on Vancouver Island sends the collected data from NEPTUNE via fibre optic cable to the University of Victoria. The NEPTUNE infrastructure is an 840 km loop of fibre optic cable with five nodes. Each node is instrumented with a diverse suite of sensors that enable researchers to study interactions among geological, chemical, physical, and biological processes that drive the dynamic earth-ocean system over a broad spectrum of oceanic environments including:

Salish Sea

ONC sensors are installed in the Saanich Inlet and the Strait of Georgia, comprising the Victoria Experimental Network Under the Sea (VENUS) network. There are also several moorings collecting data passively in the nearby Juan de Fuca Strait. The Salish Sea provides unique environments to study ocean science. The Saanich Inlet, which is naturally anoxic at depth through much of the year, is a natural laboratory for studying impacts of variations in oxygen concentration on all parts of the ecosystem. The Fraser River delta in the Strait of Georgia is an ideal location for examining how relevant processes can precondition sediment. Sensors installed on two VENUS nodes (at Central and East Strait of Georgia) are able to measure variables that can affect slope stability and observe what mechanisms regulate underwater landslides in near real-time. Sensors on the VENUS network are installed in interesting coastal marine environments including:

  • explore the deep glacial fjord with anoxic bottom waters at Saanich Inlet
  • explore the turbulent and dynamic environment of the Fraser River delta at Strait of Georgia
  • explore the Community Observatory at Mill Bay
  • explore several autonomous sub-surface moorings at the Juan de Fuca Strait

Vancouver Island

ONC has installed a diverse sensor network on Vancouver Island, including observing systems at coastal and in-land communities. Community Observatories with sensors to measure ocean changes is installed on Vancouver Island at Campbell River. The Web-enabled Awareness Research Network (WARN) has earthquake-detecting sensors called accelerometers installed at Port Renfrew, Kyoquot, Holberg, Tahsis, Port Alice, Woss Lake and Zeballos. In 2017, several more accelerometers will be installed on Vancouver island to measure the intensity of earthquakes and support the development of an earthquake early warning system. A remote ocean sensing system (WERA) installed at Tofino Airport provides data of ocean surface currents and significant wave height and direction over long distances. At many of the instrumented sites, ONC has also installed weather stations to better understand atmospheric processes and changes over long periods of time.

British Columbia North Coast

The North Coast is an area of coastal British Columbia that includes a complex network of channels and estuaries. The unique marine ecosystems of the North Coast are important for a diverse number of flora and fauna, including marine mammals such as orca and humpback whales. Economically important pelagic fish species such as salmon, eulachon and herring also use this area as spawning and schooling grounds. Ocean Networks Canada has installed ocean sensors and coastal Wave Radar (WAMOS) and Coastal Radar (CODAR) systems in partnership with communities on the North Coast. These systems collect data in near real-time to help to monitor and better understand these remote coastal environments. ONC sensors on the North Coast include:

Line P and Station Papa

Data from the Line P time series and Ocean Station Papa are also available through the Ocean Networks Canada data search. Ocean Station Papa (50.00°'N, 145.00'°W, depth 4220m) was first operated as an ocean weather station by the United States Coast Guard beginning in December 1949. Starting in December 1950, Canadian weatherships occupied the site and began to take routine oceanographic measurements in addition to collecting meteorological data. In August 1981, the Institute of Ocean Sciences, part of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Canada, began taking shipboard measurements along Line P, a series of sampling stations beginning on the continental shelf and ending at Ocean Station Papa, 3-6 times per year building a very valuable time-series of oceanographic data on the Northeast Pacific Ocean. This sampling regime is still done today. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory installed a surface mooring to collected further oceanographic data between 1997 and 1999. The U.S. Ocean Observatory Initiative will be installing one of its Global oceanographic buoys at Station Papa.

Site List

Strait of Georgia

Depth: 300 m
Setting: Inland basin
Studies: water properties, currents, acoustics

Saanich Inlet

Depth: 100 m
Setting: Fjord
Studies: low oxygen, forensics, plankton, sediments

Prince Rupert

Depth: 28 m
Setting: Coastal British Columbia, Digby Island, Ridley Island
Studies: Coastal monitoring, surface currents, waves

Mill Bay

Depth: 8 m
Setting: Inlet Shoreline
Studies: Air-sea boundary, biology, near-shore water properties

Middle Valley

Not yet instrumented

Depth: 2400 m
Setting: Seismically active area on the northern end of the Juan de Fuca ridge
Studies: Plate tectonics, seismicity, hydrothermal vent systems and ecosystems, mid-ocean ridges

Kitamaat Village

Depth: 40 m
Setting: Coastal British Columbia, Kitamaat Village
Studies: Coastal monitoring, surface currents, waves

Folger Passage

Depths: 20-100 m
Setting: Continental Shelf
Studies: Ocean biogeochemistry, terrestrial-marine interactions, coastal processes, plankton, fish, marine mammals and other organisms


Depth: 2200-2400 m
Setting: Mid-ocean ridge
Studies: Plate tectonics, seismicity, volcanism, flow over rough topography, plume dynamics, hydrothermal vent systems and ecosystems

Clayoquot Slope

Depth: 1250 m
Setting: Continental slope
Studies: Gas hydrates, seafloor fluids and gases, Cascadia margin, earthquakes, deep-sea organisms

Cascadia Basin

Depth: 2660 m
Setting: Abyssal plain
Studies: Ocean crust, hydrology, geochemistry, tsunamis, abyssal plain, benthic ecosystems

Campbell River

Depth: -6 to 10 m
Setting: Coastal British Columbia, Campbell River
Studies: Coastal monitoring, surface currents, waves

Barkley Canyon

Depth: 400-1000 m
Setting: Shelf/slope break; submarine canyon
Studies: Gas hydrates, sediment dynamics, upwelling, plankton, productivity