Ocean Networks Canada

University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia
What the facility does

Canada’s national ocean observing facility with installations and partnerships on the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic coasts of Canada, attracting a global audience for its scientific data.

Areas of expertise

Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) operates world-leading observatories in the deep ocean, coastal waters, and land of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic coasts of Canada, collecting ocean data that accelerates scientific discovery and makes possible services and solutions that support ocean-and-planet sustainability. ONC, an initiative of the University of Victoria, is Canada’s national ocean observing facility, with partnerships that support coastal and Indigenous community-led ocean observatories on all three coasts.

ONC’s cabled observatories supply continuous power and Internet connectivity to scientific instruments and 14,000+ ocean sensors along with mobile and land-based assets, including coastal radar. There are 32,000+ worldwide users of ONC’s scientific data, which is accessible through the Oceans 3.0 data portal. By sharing multiple ways of knowing, ONC supports ocean health through enhanced coastal monitoring, science that promotes ocean resilience and a sustainable blue economy, data that informs maritime safety, and a citizenry engaged with the ocean’s role in supporting life on Earth.

ONC is committed to: advancing ocean observing; delivering world-class data and data products; and enabling ocean-based solutions for climate change mitigation and coastal resilience.

Research services

ONC delivers ocean intelligence for science, society, and industry to advance public and marine safety, scientific research, climate mitigation and coastal resilience, as well as accelerate ocean technology research and development. In collaboration with coastal and Indigenous communities, industry, and governments, ONC’s pioneering solutions address climate change, natural hazard risk reduction, and ocean health that, together, ensure Canada’s place in the emerging blue economy.

  • Access to big data: ONC provides public access to live and archived big data captured by ONC’s cabled observatories, mobile platforms, and autonomous instruments via the Oceans 3.0 data management portal. Housed on the ONC website, Oceans 3.0 allows users to search, preview, download, and visualize information from the more than 140 terabytes of ocean data ONC adds each year into its 1.2+ petabyte data archive.
  • Earthquake early warning (EEW): ONC has developed a British Columbia solution for earthquake early warning (EEW) capable of detecting earthquakes and sending advance notification before major shaking arrives. ONC sensor data will be shared with government organisations to issue public alerts. Notifications can also be sent to operators of infrastructure, helping coastal communities prepare for and improve their resilience to natural hazard events, including tsunamis and storm surge, and sea-level rise due to climate change.
  • Tsunami resilience: Canada’s diverse geography and geomorphology, including fiords, arctic tundra, river deltas, bluffs, and sandy or rocky beaches, means hazard impacts vary considerably along the coast. ONC supports tsunami resilience in at-risk coastal communities by integrating detailed geographic mapping into sophisticated propagation models, allowing communities to prepare safety plans for expected inundation levels and current velocities.
  • Solid Carbon: ONC leads the Solid Carbon project, an ambitious negative emissions technology (NET). Powered by renewable energy, Solid Carbon aims to remove CO2from the atmosphere via direct air capture and inject it below the sea floor where it reacts with ocean basalt and mineralizes into rock, providing a safe, vast and permanent reservoir for this greenhouse gas. The technology has the potential to scale globally to reverse the course of carbon dioxide emissions and help meet planetary climate targets.
  • Ocean-based carbon dioxide removal (CDR): ONC’s large-scale ocean infrastructure supports research on ocean-based carbon dioxide removal (CDR) in a wide range of ocean environments. ONC’s observatories can be utilized to conduct experiments and develop monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) for CRD approaches.
  • Design and testing of innovative ocean technology: ONC works with both academia and industry to assist with the design and testing of innovative ocean technology to help expedite entry into the marketplace. ONC infrastructure offers the ability to communicate with devices in real time, both for data retrieval and command and control purposes. This makes it an ideal choice for testing new devices or monitoring experiments, allowing ocean technology companies to showcase the real-time functioning of their devices to a potentially global audience. A broad range of test environments are available: controlled environment test tanks; shallow coastal, deep canyons, abyssal plains, subduction zone, spreading ridge; Arctic; polymetallic sulphide deposit fields; methane hydrate fields; CO₂ sequestration sites; various fishery ecosystems (coastal/deep); and hydrothermal vents.
  • Hydrophone calibration: ONC developed the world‘s first automated, low frequency, digital hydrophone calibration system capable of calibrations in extreme low ranges—from 0.1Hz to 750Hz, and from 2kHz to 100kHz in the high frequency range. This service is currently in use by international organizations that monitor noise levels for scientific purposes or in relation to industrial operations.
  • SeaTube: Sound plays a critical role in remote sensing and communication in the ocean, travelling much further than light through water. ONC developed SeaTube, a video annotation and archiving tool that is web-based and easy to use, and that allows for annotation of either archived or real-time/live streaming video, as well as a fully searchable archive. Annotations can be automatically fused with data generated from other synched instruments (e.g., positional information from navigation systems). The ability to incorporate either custom vocabulary-constrained taxonomy or standard taxonomy (e.g., WoRMS) allows the resulting annotations to be easily downloaded and utilized for further analysis and for machine learning training data sets. Current users of this innovative digital logbook tool include the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Sectors of application
  • Clean technology
  • Defence and security industries
  • Fisheries and aquaculture
  • Information and communication technologies and media
  • Ocean industries

Specialized lab




Cabled ocean observatory on the deep ocean floor (~800 km)

NEPTUNE (North East Pacific Time-series Undersea Networked Experiments). Collecting ocean data 24/7.


Cabled ocean observatory in BC’s Saanich Inlet

VENUS (Victoria Experimental Network Under the Sea). Collecting ocean data 24/7.

Community observatories: Atlin Terminal, Burrard Inlet, Cambridge Bay (Iqaluktuuttiaq), Campbell River, China Creek, Digby Island, Hartley Bay, Kitamaat Village, Prince Rupert, Holyrood Bay


Oceanography instrument to measure the electrical conductivity (salinity), temperature, and depth (pressure of seawater). Collecting ocean data 24/7.

Community observatories: Atlin Terminal, Cambridge Bay (Iqaluktuuttiaq), Campbell River, China Creek, Digby Island, Hartley Bay, Kitamaat Village, Holyrood Bay

Oxygen sensors

Measures the proportion of oxygen (O2) in the gas or liquid being analyzed. Collecting ocean data 24/7.

Community observatories: Atlin Terminal, Cambridge Bay (Iqaluktuuttiaq), Campbell River, China Creek, Digby Island, Hartley Bay, Kitamaat Village, Prince Rupert, Holyrood Bay


Measures the fluorescence or light emitted by different fluorescing objects. Collecting ocean data 24/7.

Community observatories: Cambridge Bay (Iqaluktuuttiaq), Campbell River, China Creek, Hartley Bay, Kitamaat Village, Prince Rupert, Holyrood Bay


Access underwater video and annotation data from any ONC fixed camera via SeaTube Pro.

Sensors from ferry routes: (1) Tsawwassen to Duke Point and (2) Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay

Sensors on BC Ferries vessels

Provide data on essential ocean variables for the surface waters, repeatedly.


Oceanographic radar

Monitor rogue waves and tsunamis.

CODAR: Nova Scotia, Prince Rupert, Hecate Strait, Juan de Fuca Strait, Strait of Georgia

Coastal radars

Monitor surface currents.

Earthquake Early Warning (EEW)

Sensors across Vancouver Island and on the ocean floor linked to software system to provide real-time earthquake notifications

Up to 90 seconds warning for operators of major infrastructure, activating safety measures before ground-shaking arrives.

Community Fishers Partners: Maritime Aboriginal Peoples Council (MAPC), Nunatsiavut Government, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, T’Souke Nation, Pacheedaht Nation, Kitsumkalum Band, Snuneymuxw Nation, Pacific Salmon Foundation

CTD, including sensors, rugged android tablet with Community Fishers mobile application, associated deployment / recovery hardware, and rugged field cases.

Operated by community members and project partners to collect oceanographic data from small vessels and snowmachines and transmits the data via a tablet and software app. 

Mobile hydrophones

Ocean Sonics iCListen Hydrophones and WiFi enabled buoys and communications cases

Used for training First Nations and community partners how to collect Underwater Acoustic data.

Oceans 3.0

Data management system

Acquires and stores data from different instruments.

Marine geodesy

Seafloor geodesy monitoring system

Seafloor monuments monitored acoustically with an autonomous surface vehicle to measure plate tectonic movements across a subduction zone.


Neutrino sensors

P-ONE (Pacific Ocean Neutrino Experiment). Detection of neutrinos for high-energy particle physics research.


  • Government of Canada
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada