Nanoose Bay artist and scuba diver Jay Holbrook has many up-close and personal encounters with undersea creatures like this Wolf eel as he keeps tabs on the some of the species at risk in the oceans surrounding Vancouver Island.

Nanoose Bay diver fears for the future

Local man collects data for the Vancouver Aquarium

Nanoose Bay artist and scuba diver Jay Holbrook says he isn’t optimistic about the future health of the ocean surrounding our Island.

Holbrook dives in the waters of Georgia Strait on a weekly basis, recording everything he sees in the depths with video and still photography.

He said he sends his data to the Vancouver Aquarium, which collects information about the species at risk in our oceans.

Since 1956, researchers at the aquarium have been conducting studies of habitats and animals in the wild.

They do annual surveys to determine which threatened fish species are beginning to repopulate and which are having difficulty recovering in the wild.

Holbrook has been collecting data for the program for many years now and while his underwater adventures provide him with inspiration for his artwork, he said it also leaves him troubled about what the future holds for sea life.

“What I am really concerned about is that probably two generations from now we are not going to have this abundance out here at the rate we are going.  From what I see underwater … there are big changes and the future doesn’t look bright,” he said.

The scuba dive master and instructor said he is not surprised by the latest news that high acid levels in the waters around Parksville and Qualicum Beach have wiped out most of Island Scallops’ stock.

He said the mass sea star die-off which started in this area last year is also a red flag and any potential threats to the ocean from development of industry need to be halted.

“I am not a radical environmentalist but I am concerned about it all,” he said. “We do see dwindling stocks with the salmon and everything. I am against the Northern Gateway pipeline.  It is a disaster waiting to happen and I really feel two generations out its not going to be the same as it is now.”

Holbrook is currently contributing data for the Vancouver Aquarium’s annual Lingcod Egg Mass Survey.

He said there is concern for the stock, which has reached three to five percent of what it was a century ago.

He has been collecting information on the number, size, condition and position of egg masses, as well as whether or not a guarding male is present.

Holbrook’s up-close encounters with the rockfish he sees in these parts are reflected in his metal rockfish sculptures and he said he can only hope that they will be around in the future, and not just as beautiful artwork hanging on a wall.

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