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A Call to Arms: Saving the Moonless Oasis

Moonless OasisBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

World Broadcast Premiere
October 31, 8:00pm

In British Columbia and Alberta on CBC’s Absolutely Canadian and streams nationally on CBC GEM

It’s hard to believe that in British Columbia, we have our own Jurassic Park. In our case, it’s not dinosaurs that we have wandering the unexplored regions, but rather in what is growing in deep trenches underwater. Just like the franchise, the lesson conservationists need to teach is how not to meddle with evolution and protect the prehistoric glass sponge reefs from human interference. Otherwise, the result may well create an appropriately (titled) Moonless Oasis.

To discover these delicate forms of life from the age of dinosaurs continue to survive is thrilling, but to preserve those growths, means raising awareness to everyone—divers, sailors and fishermen—about where they live, their significance to the aquatic biosphere and why they must be preserved. Nobody wants to see this unique ecosystem die off like the coral reefs in Australia in recent reports. Much of what science now knows about these lifeforms has come courtesy of a group of locals who’ve put time, money and effort to protect this endangered species.

These reefs are important not only as a habitat for marine life–namely spot prawns, rockfish (now endangered) and sharks–but also as filter feeders of bacteria and carbon dioxide. A single small reef can filter enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in less than 60 seconds! (1) It’s estimated that eight deep sea reefs can filter 17 billion litres of sea water a day.

As their name implies, these flowers are very delicate and once cracked, they can’t instantly grow back! The straits of this province may well be home to the last remaining growths of them because none have been found elsewhere!

Filmmakers Nate Slaco and Bryce Zimmerman chronicled Hamish Tweed’s efforts to find where concentrations of this life form exist and show where they are now at conservation and preservation. The producers opted to let the footage speak for itself, without a narrator, and while it works to a point, I’m the type who prefers someone (the personality doesn’t have to be famous, but it’d help) to fill in the blanks so I’m not completely in the dark to what the team is doing, and where they are now in this call to arms.

Unlike the films produced by Steven Spielberg, this gentle alien life doesn’t have the means to fight back or be able to migrate to safe zones just like that. These ancient animals have been living and growing here far longer than when humanity settled on these shores.

Plus, most foodies want to know where their seafood is sourced from. If their favourite meals are being unethically harvested in protected waters and it’s causing destruction to an ecosystem, people will be angry. Much like the documentary Fish & Men (review can be found on, which emphasizes supporting local fishermen for their efforts in sustainable fishing, so must governments recognize sea agriculture.

4 Starfish out of 5

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