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News & Events

14-Sep: Help wanted to transplant eelgrass

The SeaChange Marine Conservation Society is holding a community event on Tuesday, September 14th, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.

Last year a successful eelgrass transplant event took place in Mannion Bay (also known as Deep Bay). The new eelgrass is doing well and expanding beyond the transplant site. This means that we can return to conduct a second transplant in Mannion Bay that will build upon the previous one and create more habitat and food for crabs, salmon, birds, and more!

Accordingly, the SeaChange Marine Conservation Society is inviting you to join a community event on Tuesday, September 14th, to prepare eelgrass shoots for this second transplant. The work will take place on Pebbly Beach in Mannion Bay

Activity description: Volunteers will spend around 2 hours tying eelgrass shoots onto metal washers. Volunteers must be physically able to access and navigate Pebbly Beach, and comfortable sitting or standing for the duration of a 2 hour shift (bring your own chair or find a log!). There will be two short educational presentations given on the importance of eelgrass to local ecosystems. The work itself is minimally demanding, and is a great opportunity to build community, chat with neighbours, and learn about your local marine ecosystem. All ages invited. Family friendly.

COVID-19 safety:

  • To minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposures, you must sign up ahead of time.
  • Volunteer shifts will last 2 hours, and be split across three stations to enable physical distancing.
  • Hand sanitizer will be provided on site.
  • Please bring your own mask and ensure that you sign up.

Please help spread the word! We would love for as many folks to participate as possible in this boots-on-the-ground project to protect the health of our local waterways. Accordingly, please share this invitation throughout your networks and with any groups and individuals you think may be interested in participating and make sure that you sign-up for a volunteer shift (there are limited spots available).

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News & Events

26-Jul: Camping at Cape Roger Curtis

Camper at Cape Roger Curtis

We are seeing people camping on our lands and adjacent lots at the Cape almost every week.

It’s a very serious problem: apart from the damage that campers do, there is a major risk from their fires (and we have found plenty of evidence that, despite the current ban, campers are making fires). Unfortunately there is little that we can do apart from asking campers to leave when we find them, and this doesn’t always go well. So, all we can really do at this point is monitor the situation.

If you see campers on our lands, please report via an email message to us. You can also call 604.947.0973 to make a report. And please email us if you are willing to monitor the lands on a regular basis, perhaps once a week or so. Note that we do not want you to confront any campers that you see on our lands!

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News & Events

24-Jul: Get involved with the Bowen Island Biodiversity Project!

What’s this Project about?

How much do you know about the wild things that share this island with you? They are all around us, but may be disappearing before our very eyes! So, this summer, until September 1st, we’re inviting the island community to work together to log 1,000 observations of wildlife and natural species from neighbourhoods around the island.

The Bowen Island Biodiversity Project is our chance to get to know what plants and animals share this island and to build a baseline of knowledge about all things wonderfully wild: from whales to worms and lichen to sea squirts. And it’s your chance to build your knowledge and help crowdsource valuable information, while having fun, and raising awareness of the other species that share the island with us.

Do you know what kind of bees, ants, spiders, or forest slimes are playing a role in the complex interconnections of biodiversity here? Let’s find out together! You may find a species we didn’t know was here, or discover something thought to be locally extinct. 

How do you log an observation?

We want you to use iNaturalist to log your observations of Bowen Island flora and fauna. It’s free to use and very easy.

iNaturalist is a social network of naturalists, citizen scientists, and biologists, built on the concept of mapping and sharing observations of biodiversity, around the globe. All you need to use it to log an observation is access to the smartphone app, or the desktop website, and an account (which is easy to create). Then you upload a photo to record your observation and share it with other users (see what has already been logged about Bowen Island).

You don’t have to know what you are looking at, or be an amazing photographer. If your photo is clear, once it’s uploaded iNaturalist will give you suggestions about what it thinks you just took a photo of, and you can choose one, especially if it says “Visually Similar” AND “Seen Nearby.”

Collaborating on-line experts will help you identify species in your photo, if you aren’t sure exactly what it is. Do you know what kind of bees, ants, or spiders or forest slimes are playing a role in the complex interconnections of biodiversity? Let’s find out together. You may find a species we didn’t know was here, or discover something thought to be locally extinct. 

How to get involved

You can use your smartphone or computer to upload photos to your account. You can also upload photos taken with a camera.

The easy way to participate is to grab the iNaturalist smartphone app, and then get outside and take photos of plants, animals and other strange and wonderful wild things and share them on iNaturalist. Make observations with other in your neighbourhood or club, and challenge other neighbourhoods and clubs to make the most observations, or log the most species.

Step 1: Turn on location services on your phone, or your GPS function on your camera.

If your camera does not have GPS capabilities make note of where you’re collecting information.

Step 2: Make an observation

Take photos of wild organisms: plants, animals, fungi or other signs of life such as a nest or tracks.

Take multiple photos of each finding with different features, angles and sizes, with close- ups and wide-angle shots.

Any observations you make within BC parks and protected areas will be automatically included in the BC Parks project.

Step 3: Upload your observation

Use the iNaturalist app or iNaturalist.ca. The app is great for on-the-spot uploads and identification, while the website makes it easy to upload multiple photos and observations at once.

Fill in details of the observation yourself or choose from iNaturalist’s suggestions.

Don’t know what you’re looking at? Choose a broader group such as “mosses” or “grasses.” This helps the iNaturalist community find and identify your observation.

Step 4: Share your observation

Upload your photo through the app or website. If you don’t have internet access you can save your observation to your app’s account and upload it later.

Photography tips

  • Plants: Petals, leaves. stem, and base.
  • Mushrooms: Underside, top, and sides.
  • Trees & Shrubs: Close-ups of bark and leaves, wide shot of the whole plant..
  • Snails: Shell opening and both sides of the shell (if you can without disturbing them)
  • Mollusks: Hinge where the two shell halves meet and inside the shell if it’s empty.
  • Dragonflies: Side shots are best with a close-up of the tail. From above if it has a distinctive wing pattern.
  • Bees, Crabs, Spiders: From above and from the front to show mouthparts or claws.
  • Small Organisms: Include an object in the photo to help show size. This could be as simple as your hand, lens cap or a pencil.

Why should you participate?

The majority of today’s extinctions occur on islands.. And we are increasingly noting comments about how things used to be on Bowen: “We used to hear frogs here,” “This area used to be full of salamanders,” “There used to be grouse,” “We used to see flying squirrels,” “There used to be Chinook salmon,” “… resident Orcas …,” “Why don’t we see toads any more?”. If we don’t know what species we have, we may not have a chance to save them. The Project is a way to have fun and learn more about our island flora and fauna while helping to collect data that may be helpful in guiding local solutions for island stewardship, long into the future. You observations will also add to data repositories like the NatureServe CanadaCanadensys and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to help other scientists. All you have to do is observe!

With a shifting baseline where “normal” is a depleted list of local species of animals and plants, we decided that a fun community challenge would be a great way to get more people increased knowledge about the species that are still here today. With more knowledge comes understanding about our impact on the natural world and how we can be more conscientious, and caring about our role in the loss or survival of our local species.

Got questions?

If you have any questions about the project, send us an email message, and we’ll get back to you.

About iNaturalist

iNaturalist Canada is a place where you can record and share what you see in nature, meet other nature watchers, and learn about Canada’s wildlife. It encourages the participation of a wide variety of nature enthusiasts and everyday people. Through connecting different perceptions and expertise of the natural world, iNaturalist Canada hopes to create extensive community awareness of local biodiversity and promote further exploration of local environments. Every piece of information on a species, combined with the vast network of citizen scientists, can give a big picture of Canada’s natural history and be key contributions for conservation decisions.iNaturalist Canada is part of a larger iNaturalist Network which is an international network that allows the transfer of species data and shared technology.

Latest news and events

Categories
News & Events

01-Dec: Letter to DFO concerning the Herring Fishery

We oppose the commercial fishery

In an earlier post this year we stated our opposition to the commercial herring fishery in the Salish Sea. Herring stocks are in decline generally, and since herring are a critical link in the marine food web between plankton and larger fish, marine mammals, and birds, it is fundamentally important to take steps to avoid further decline.

We have formed a committee to focus on this issue, and plan to use arguments based on science, economics, and culture to pressure government to eliminate or drastically reduce the commercial fishery. As well, we are collaborating with the Hornby Island Conservancy, and other organizations, on this issue.

We have written a letter to Fisheries and Oceans Canada seeking assurance that there will be no commercial herring fishery in Howe Sound in the near future.

Thumbnail image of letter to DFO concerning herring fishery
Click on the image to read the full letter
Categories
News & Events

20-Jan: Stories from the Bay

A Zoom event about Kwil’akm / Mannion Bay

The Howe Sound / Átl’ḵa7tsem Marine Reference Guide hosted a Zoom event in January, with SeaChange Marine Conservation Society and Bowen Island Municipality called ‘Stories from the Bay’.

It was an evening of storytelling about Kwil’akm / Mannion Bay with stories from the community and a few presentations from groups who are actively restoring and taking care of the Bay.

The objective of this storytelling event was to build community, share information about the stewardship and management activities in the bay, and catalyse community engagement for nearshore restoration. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear stories submitted from individuals about their stewardship and connection with Mannion Bay.

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News & Events

2020 Annual General Meeting

Date and time

Our 2020 Annual General Meeting was held at 1:00 pm on Saturday, November 28th, 2020, via a Zoom meeting, in accordance with the BC Government’s Ministerial Order No. M116.

After the formal business presentation, we continued with some presentations about the new Park at Cape Roger Curtis.

View the slides presented at the AGM.

View the AGM Draft Minutes.

Agenda

1:00 pm: Formal business meeting

The formal portion of the meeting included:

  1. Approval of the AGM Agenda
  2. Approval of Minutes of the 2019 AGM
  3. Report from the Chair
  4. Consideration and adoption of the Financial Statements (required for filing the annual report to the government)
  5. Directors: election of new and returning directors

1:50 pm: Break

2:00 pm: Our new waterfront park at Cape Roger Curtis

On December 16th we will take possession of 32 acres of waterfront property at Cape Roger Curtis. We took some time at this point in the afternoon to talk about some important aspects of the lands that make up the park, and to answer questions.

  • Owen Plowman gave an overview of the area and the park, and how this park became a reality
  • Bob Turner showed a short video about the park
  • Sue Ellen Fast spoke about the ecosystem on the coastal bluffs and why it needs to be protected.
Categories
News & Events

16-Oct: Our waterfront conservation area at Cape Roger Curtis is happening

Categories
News & Events Public education

02-Aug: An outing at Mannion Bay

We explored Bowen Island’s best Tidal Flats

Along with the Bowen Nature Club we convened a Beach Explore outing on Sunday, August 2, from 10:00 am to noon. We poked around the extensive tidal flats of Mannion (Deep) Bay adjacent to the Lagoon Causeway and Sandy Beach (see the map below), during an extreme summer low tide: the very best time to observe life on these biologically rich sands and muds. These flats are home to oyster, clams, small fish and crabs, and have been a centre for human activity on the Island, including shellfish harvesting by Squamish Nation peoples, a brickworks (during early settlement), and a recreation hub for Union Steamship holiday crowds.

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News & Events Public education

06-Jun: Prohibit motorized use of Mount Gardner

Our letter

We wrote to Tom Blackbird, District Recreation Officer, Recreation Sites and Trails BC, to ask that he designate the Crown Lands on Mount Gardner for non-motorized use only.

Copies of our letter went to the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, other members of the Recreation Sites and Trails BC organization, and our Mayor and Council.

Read a PDF copy of our letter.

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CRCTS-News News & Events Public education

14-Mar: A conservation area at Cape Roger Curtis!

Lot 21 looking West at Cape Roger Curtis

This photo was taken at Cape Roger Curtis Lot 21, looking West. To see a panoramic, uncropped view, click on the photo (the photo is large so it may take some time to load)


A local family (who wish to remain anonymous) has proposed an offer to purchase 3 waterfront lots at Cape Roger Curtis (CRC), to create a 30 acre conservation area. The family want this land to be preserved for conservation purposes in perpetuity, and made available for the enjoyment of residents and visitors to Bowen Island.

At long last our much-desired waterfront conservation area at Cape Roger Curtis is within reach! The CRC developers contacted us 2 weeks ago with the news that they are open to an offer to acquire these 3 lots. Very welcome news!

The lots in question, 20, 21, and 22, are extremely beautiful. Whales swim past just off the lichen-covered cliffs, a litle way from a peaceful forest. Conservation status would protect the rare coast bluff ecosystem that’s present, and make it possible to remedy the damage done by preliminary development activities.

We are working with the family who wishes to donate funds, and on moving forward with other activities that will put us in a position to make an offer some time in the next few weeks. The process is complicated and there are many activities that require coordination and knowledge from individuals with special expertise (for example, we need legal counsel, tax advice, and so on). Since we received the news from the Cape developers we have been working hard and have made good progress.

The exact location of these lots and the conservation area that would result is shown on the map below.

Map showing the proposed park at Cape Roger Curtis

Photos taken from the water

We are grateful to Bob Turner for making these photos available.

Categories
News & Events Public education Speakers

22-Feb: The ongoing necessity of land and marine protection

A talk by Vicky Husband

Our 2020 speaker series continued on February 22nd with a talk by Vicky Husband on “The ongoing necessity of land and marine protection”.

Vicky is a life-long resident of Vancouver Island. Born in Victoria, she is a recipient of the Order of Canada and Order of BC and an honorary doctorate from the University of Victoria for her volunteer conservation work in BC over the last 40 years. She is an internationally renowned forest and marine conservation advocate, acknowledged by the 1988 United Nations Global 500 Award. Vicky is a passionate defender of BC’s natural heritage, in support of parks and proper regional planning and land use.

Vicky has a wealth of experience in protecting forests, and this was a very interesting session.

Our thanks to the Knick Knack Nook

We are grateful to the Knick Knack Nook Small Grants Program for their financial support for this event.

Categories
News & Events Public education

09-Feb: Oppose the Salish Sea commercial herring fishery

Imminent danger of herring fishery collapse

In our Salish Sea, herring stocks are down this year—again. And the Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Bernadette Jordan, despite advice from her own scientists, has approved a commercial herring fishery that may take up to 20% of the herring—again. The Minister is flirting with total collapse of the herring fishery: 4 of the 5 BC herring fisheries are currently closed because populations are so depressed. Bob Turner, a member of the Conservancy Board has made a short film that documents what happens during the commercial fishery (see the end of this article).

Please read the letter to the Minister, signed by 70 conservation and marine tourism organizations, asking for the commercial herring fishery to be suspended. And please write your own letter of opposition to the Minister.

Background

The Bowen Island Conservancy is joining with other Conservancies and Environmental groups to demand that the Department of Fisheries & Oceans eliminate or substantially reduce the industrial herring Fisheries in the Salish Sea. Some historical background and rationale for our position:

  • First Nations use: First Nations oral histories, confirmed by archeological studies, establish that herring have been used by indigenous people on the BC coast for thousands of years.

    Herring were caught by various means throughout the year, and herring eggs were collected on tree branches or kelp during spawning season. First Nations elders describe obtaining herring throughout the year and obtaining spawn annually. However, for most of these communities, access to herring and herring spawn is a thing of the past.

    Recent archeological studies confirm that herring was consumed by indigenous people in very large quantities, in some places surpassing salmon as a staple food. Captain Cook, visiting West Coast Vancouver island in 1778, referred to herring spawn as the peoples “winter bread”. Importantly, the archeological studies and oral histories describe herring being consistently available throughout the Salish Sea.

    Regrettably, the abundance of herring on our coast has sharply declined in modern times, both in quantity and distribution.

  • Ecological importance: Herring play a significant role in the ecology of the Salish sea. They are an important food source for chinook salmon, seabirds, whales and other mammals. If you have watched Bob Turner’s video above, you will have learned why herring are such an important part of the food web.

  • Industrial herring fishing: Commercial fishing for herring by non-indigenous people began in the 19th century. The fishery grew, and in the early 20th century dry salted herring for export became a major industry. In the 1930s the fishery expanded again, rendering massive quantities of herring for fish meal and oil. By the 1950s, catches exceeded 200,000 tons annually.

    This fishery was unsustainable, and in the 1960s herring stocks collapsed and the commercial herring fisheries were shut down. By the early 1970s, though, stocks had somewhat recovered and a “roe fishery” for export to Japan commenced. This fishery involves extracting the roe from the females and then rendering the female carcasses and all of the males into fish meal, used in agriculture and as feed for fish farms. The roe fishery grew, harvesting thousands of tons annually, and continues as the major herring fishery today. The other significant herring fishery is named “food and bait”, and a recent investigation by the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre concludes that this fishery provides exports for fish food for tuna farms and captive whales.

    As with previous herring fisheries, serious sustainability issues have developed. At present, stocks in four of the five management areas on the coast have collapsed to the point where they are insufficient to carry on herring fisheries. The remaining area, the Salish sea, has been the exception for many years, but recently stocks have declined sharply.

Our conclusion

The Conservancy has concluded that it is time for DFO to take sustainability seriously, and either cancel the fishery or make substantial amendments to management, recognizing the importance of herring to the ecology of the Salish Sea.

What happens during the commercial fishery?

Categories
News & Events Public education

05-Jan: Howe Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve initiative update

Last December 6th, several Bowen Islanders took a water taxi to Gambier Island to join with other groups from around Howe Sound for a Conservationists Network Meeting. Our attendees included Sue Ellen Fast, Will Husby, and Adam Taylor, with Owen Plowman and Bob Turner representing the Bowen Island Conservancy. The Network Meeting was a follow-up from our first Network Meeting in October 2017; these meetings are set up so that we can share ideas, news about projects, and get to know like-minded folks from other organizations in the area.

The Gambier Island Conservancy hosted us, and we covered a wide range of topics. Of course, one of the major items on the agenda was progress on the Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative, and we heard very welcome news about that! The completed 328 page nomination document for Atl’ka7tsem/Howe Sound to be designated by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve is now with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO for their review and endorsement.

Bob Turner has made a video about his thoughts on the initiative:

Categories
News & Events Public education

05-Jan: HELIT TŦE SȽOṈ,ET (Let the Herring Live)

How do we restore the herring population?

In November 2019 First Nations and environmental organizations from around the Salish Sea met in Saanichton to discuss the restoration of the Sea’s distinct herring populations, and to collaborate on strategies to bring vitality back to communities for whom herring was a foundational species. The Bowen Island Conservancy was represented by our Board Member, Bob Turner (Bob has made another on of his beautiful videos about the herring spawning off Hornby Island).

Background

Over the coming months, efforts will continue to oppose commercial herring fisheries in the Strait of Georgia. You can learn more about why this is the case by reading the notes from the event, and by watching this YouTube video. A Press Release was issued in mid-December which provides additional information.

As well, you may read the letter that’s been sent, signed by 70 conservation and marine tourism organizations, to the Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Bernadette Jordan, asking for the commercial herring fishery to be suspended.

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News & Events Speakers

2019 Annual General Meeting

Our 2019 Annual General Meeting was held at 1:00 pm on Saturday, November 23rd, 2019 at the Bowen Island Community School.

After the formal business presentation we screened a beautiful film, and the film Director answered questions.

Read the Minutes of the meeting

1:00 pm: Formal business meeting

The formal portion of the meeting included:

  1. Approval of the AGM Agenda
  2. Approval of Minutes of the 2018 AGM
  3. Report from the Chair
  4. Consideration and adoption of the Financial Statements (required for filing the annual report to the government)
  5. Directors: election of new and returning directors

1:45 pm: Coffee break

2:00 pm: Guest speaker Jon Chiang: Sound Water

From the Headwaters of the Elaho River, down the Squamish and into Howe Sound–Sound Water is a film that questions our pursuit for adventure, our relationship with nature and with ourselves.

A beautiful film, Sound Water begins by asking a simple question” “Where does the water come from?”. It leads to a more complex series of questions: “What does our connection to water mean?”, “What about our connection to nature?”.

We are sure you will enjoy the film and the chance to talk to the film makers.

About Jon: A director based in Vancouver, Jon’s work focuses on creating intimate and moving branded films for his clients. His previous short documentary ‘The Lion’ was awarded the People’s choice award at the Vancouver Asian Film Festival. It has also been screened at the Asian American International Film Festival and Vancouver Short Film Festival.

Jon’s curiosity about Howe Sound/Atl’Kitsem, led to the creation of Sound Water, his first outdoor short documentary.

Our thanks to the Knick Knack Nook

We are grateful to the Knick Knack Nook Small Grants Program for their financial support for the film presentation at this event.

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News & Events Public education

26-Oct: Marine Atlas Open House

You came and told us your stories!

On Saturday, 26 October 2019, the Bowen Island Conservancy hosted an Open House for its Bowen/Nexwlélexm Marine Atlas Project. We asked the community this question:

  • Do you have an experience along Bowen’s shores that you want to share? Perhaps with a friendly seal? Or a beautiful sea star? Maybe a heron catching a fish?

And we offered to answer questions from the community:

  • Why are people so excited about the discovery of glass sponge reefs in Howe Sound?
  • Why did we have so many sea lions along Bowen shores last April?
  • What is the black duck that winters along Bowen shores in flocks of hundreds?
  • How did First Nations harvest from the sea?
  • Have the first salmon arrived at the Causeway yet?

66 people dropped in to the Open House (you can see some of them in the photos below). They stayed between 10 minutes and more than an hour and we enjoyed ourselves.

Why an Open House?

The goal of the Marine Atlas project is to engage Bowen Islanders in a greater awareness, celebration, and stewardship of our shores and nearby marine waters. The Atlas pulls together local and scientific knowledge to create resources that empower us to know, care, and better steward of our local marine realm.

The two hour Open House was an opportunity for people to give us input for the Atlas, and to ask questions. We had 7 different activity centres, including:

  1. A “Big Map” where stories could be posted about an experience along our shores
  2. A place to explore the draft Marine Atlas chapters, and test knowledge with a special Quiz
  3. 4 focus tables, each hosted by island experts: (birders, salmon people, intertidal life biologist; divers)
  4. A movie about marine life along Bowen shores.

We arranged for discussions with some of Bowen’s best naturalists about our local marine life. Our birders team answer bird questions, and talkedabout best places to see our local marine birds. Bowen Island Fish and Wildlife Club members gave an overview of Bowen’s salmon streams, how the salmon hatchery works, and about the Salmon in Schools program. Well-known biologist Will Husby had a microscope to explore with people the tiny critters from our shores. Adam Taylor, Bowen’s favorite diver, was there with stories, photos and movies of octopus, glass sponge reefs, and other secrets of the deep. And Bob Turner, local film maker, showed a new movie of Bowen’s marine wildlife.

We are very grateful to the Bowen Island Community Foundation, and several private donors, for their funding support for our Marine Atlas project.