Home to the Pacific Naval Fleet, it’s not uncommon for small silver cylinders to wash up on Victoria’s shores. They’re called marine location markers, and Victoria police and the military warn that they can be dangerous.
Normally, the marine location markers (MLMs) are used on board Royal Canadian Navy ships when a sailor goes overboard. Shooting up billowing white smoke, the MLMs serve as a visual aid for ships and airplanes to mark the location of the sailor if there are no visual aids on the horizon.
The markers are supposed to sink and deteriorate overtime but they sometimes wash ashore, Lt.-Cmdr Tony Wright, senior public affairs officer for Maritime Forces Pacific, said. When people find them washed up, Wright said they should never touch or move them as there is a potential for them to reignite.
Instead, found MLMs should be reported to police right away. On Thursday (Feb. 4), Victoria police had two such reports – an unusually high number for one day.
The first marker was reported around 9 a.m. near Dallas Road and Cook Street and the second one at 11:30 a.m. at Holland Point Park. Police collected the markers before handing them off to the Military Ordinance Disposal Team.
Wright said the team usually destroys found markers at a military range. In an average year on the Island, between 15 and 30 are found.
An exercise including five ships and a submarine began Feb. 1, and Wright said some of the ships are already at sea. It’s possible the found markers were related to this exercise, he said.