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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.