Dark with sewage from boats and other pollutants, Vancouver’s False Creek is no place to go for a swim, but it’s still home to an abundance of marine life below the surface.
Local photographer Fernando Lessa dove into the urban waterway to document the area in partnership with the Vancouver Park Board.
Lessa told CTV Morning Live on Monday that the impact of some restoration projects is being seen with more herring in the area and whales even being spotted near False Creek.
“Slowly life is coming back,” he said, adding that herring is important because it’s lower in the food chain. “I was very surprised at what I saw.”
Lessa was very surprised to see spawning herring, as they can form large, dense schools. He also saw dense schools of sticklebacks, which are more common.
“It was a pretty nice dive,” he said.
Even so, Lessa said there was still a lot of pollution.
“You find trash almost everywhere and that’s definitely a problem. But I definitely see it being dealt with slowly,” he said.
“If you give nature the chance it will bounce back, so if we start cleaning it up a bit and just give it the chance to bounce back.”
Lessa’s work doesn’t just focus on False Creek. Later this year, he will paddle the entire Fraser River for a documentary.
“The idea is to create awareness that the river, which is still in great condition, is still flowing freely, there are no dams,” he said.
“But the number of salmon returns is really low and trending down, so we’re trying to raise awareness about this issue.”
Lessa’s comments were part of a four-minute interview that aired on CTV Morning Live on Monday. Watch the full interview in the video player above.