Archive for August, 2012

Simonds Hydrophone Installation

by Rob MacKenzie

Last week, our plans and hard work came together as we installed a hydrophone at a new site. We are now receiving and recording at the Simonds group, just inside Goose Island. We are excited about this site, as it is our furthest from our relay station, and most exposed of any of locations. This addition to our network greatly expands our ability to hear whales moving through the area and get an idea of their patterns over time.

We arrived early in the morning, the fog still hugging the ocean. We had been preparing the hydrophone cables and anchor the previous week. Because of the heavy exposure, this site will be subject to some strong currents and swells; we built this station to be more robust than our other installations. The hydrophone cable is protected by a steel-lined hose that passes through the intertidal zone down deep onto the ocean floor. This is mechanically secured to a heavy nylon line with lead weights distributed throughout it to prevent the waves and current from moving the cable from its installed location. A rock bolt holds the top of the line, and a large anchor secures the underwater side. Building and installing this line was a fun challenge to tackle, as we needed to figure out new ways to manage the increased weight. The whole underwater installation is approximately 600 kg.

Equipment on the boat

Matt ready to dive

The HIRMD staff and the SEAS interns were on site to aid with the installation. We also had the help of Matt Arnold of GreenSea Diving, a commercial diver who was teaching a dry suit diving course to school children in the area. Matt was able to survey the area we were interested in, surfacing with a description and some images of the underwater world. He was able to guide the placement of our underwater cable and our hydrophone, acting as our eyes below the surface. We are lucky to have friends who care about the coast and are willing to donate their time and expertise. Everyone who visits seems to agree on the importance studying and preserving the area.

Interns sandbagging

Installing the solar panel

When we finished I was happy to see (and hear) our hard work, sitting on a beautiful little island on the BC coast. I know that the hydrophone will be a key part of the cetacean study in this area, and I feel great that I’ve made a contribution to it.

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Firsts

This is an excerpt from friends of Pacific Wild, Mike Reid and Sarah Stoner’s blog. To view the full blog, and read a letter a day to Mr. Harper, visit http://www.dearmrharper.com

 

Dear Mr. Harper,

A few days ago, Mike told us about his encounter with the Spirit Bear. This morning I had the opportunity to spend some time with this majestic creature.

We crept up the side of the creek bed and after walking for only a few minutes, I spotted his glistening white fur through the salmon berry bushes that separated us from the creek. I watched in awe as the giant creature loafed around, climbing up and over a log in search for more berries. He quickly lost interest in the berries and made his way up the riverbank where he proceeded to dig for roots to complete his morning meal. Within minutes, this bear had dug a whole larger than himself, munched all the tasty roots he could find and moved on.

We observed this bear in peace for some time. He was aware of our presence, but was not concerned by us in any way.

My first experience with a spirit bear was absolutely magical. This creature is a true gem, unique to this part of the world.The pristine watersheds and abundant salmon are what nourish the spirit bear, and their black furred relatives. The spirit bear is thus a creature of the land and the sea. Let’s not spoil this unique ecosystem and home of the spirit bear, Mr. Harper.

For the coast,

Sarah and Mike

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Kim Slater is hitting the home stretch!

Kim Slater has been running a marathon a day since the beginning of July and is finally hitting the home stretch. On July 8th, Kim left Alberta and she is now approaching Kitimat. Kim has run the length of Enbridge’s proposed pipeline route to raise awareness about the risks of the project and speak with people along the way about what Canada’s sustainable energy future could look like. Here are a few photos from Kim’s journey so far.

Kim is run out of Smithers with NDP MP Nathan Cullen and Mayor Taylor Bachrach

This beautiful backdrop is a great motivator!

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SEAS Internship – Week 7

Louis

What can I say about the last week out at Kvai? Well first of all, we were supposed to go up the river to check out the bear snares… but the river was too shallow and we couldn’t make it, which was heartbreaking kinda. We did see a juvenile bear not too long after though, so it was all good. We watched it for 15 to 20 minutes walking on the beach… eating grass, doing bear stuff. Was pretty awesome!

Tuesday, we went to Namu which was okay. We only tagged 22, but the second day out there was pretty crazy, 63 FISH!!!… In one set, not even joking! It was pretty epic, it took us all morning to finish. Then we watched Gene jump off the dock into the water… twice in a row, haha now THAT was epic!

Another crazy-awesome summer with SEAS.

 

William

One day we were supposed to go up river and talk about bear snares but the tide was too low and we couldn’t make it up river so we ended up just spotting a grizzly and just bear watching for about 20 minutes or so. Then all of the sudden this helicopter came out of nowhere and scared the bear, it ran into the woods. About five minutes later it came back out to the same spot and it slowly walked the beach going up river. That was pretty sweet. Closest I’ve been to a bear in a long time.

Another day we went to Namu to do some seining. Only had to do one set and we had the biggest set we ever got! We tagged sixty-three sockeye and coho. And we must have caught about 75 or 80 easy. One point I was in the water watching the net and I saw a lot of fish getting out because the lead line was being dragged over rocks and they’d slip under. After that we kind of just had a fun afternoon. We went swimming around and snorkeling, we were jumping off the floats at Namu and we have a couple funny videos of the crew jumping in.

The crew after seining

 

Richard

On Friday we went out with Davie, Richard, and Carey from HIRMD to set up a new hydrophone station. When we got out there we met up with Max and Rob from Pacific Wild and Matt (a diver). We started off getting sacks of gravel to put over the hose in the intertidal rocks to weigh it down. We also started lowering the hydrophone cable inside the hose wrapped in lead line into the water from the boat. Matt was in the water and told us where to lower the lead line so it would lie along the ocean floor properly. Afterwards we lifted the anchor with the hydrophone on it onto a board in the speedboat and tipped it into the water. It was tied to two buoys so it didn’t fall in the water too fast. Then we got to look at the setup of the box where the solar panel charges the battery. It was a pretty good trip to help set up. I’d like to use this hydrophone to hear the pod of killer whales we saw in the area last year by the Gosling Rocks. That would be pretty cool.

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SEAS Internship – Week 6

Jenna
We tagged 15 fish in Namu this week. The water was both cold and warm depending on where we were. We went up to the river and I fell in when I was trying to get in slowly. It was very very cold at the bottom. I snorkeled for a couple minutes before we left, but I didn’t see any fish though, just rocks. It was my first time snorkeling this summer. I liked it. It reminded me of when I was a kid. I’m excited to go back to Namu next week. Hopefully we’ll get more fish so we can get to our goal of tagging 200 sockeye.

Gene
On Thursday we started at 9am going up the river. We had to paddle up for a bit, but the tide was going down so we had to drag the canoes for a bit because the water was too low to paddle. We all met where the trail begins, and we started walking the trail. After awhile we had to walk on the river bank because the river was full of rapids. When we got near the stream we were going to set g-traps in, we got to snorkel in the river. It was the highlight of the day. I saw lots of fish that were between 9 and 11 inches long and a whole bunch of fry and parr. I was wearing jeans and it felt like a weight belt. We stayed back up there for 2 hours while the traps soaked. When we headed down, we snorkeled and floated down the rapids. We got a little beaten up on the rocks, but it was worth it. It was a day worth remembering.

Blake
This was the last week of Kvai camp for the kids this summer. It was a busy week, I’m sad that the kids won’t be around for another two weeks. Friday was feast day; 82 people came out here from the villge. It was amazing. The kids were practicing all week to show the community members what they learn while they’re out here and the kids have learned a lot.
After the first part of the ceremonies was performed, some people stood up and made speeches; one of the elders from Bella Bella got up and spoke in Heiltsuk to William Housty. Her whole speech was in Heiltsuk. It was pretty amazing to hear because I haven’t heard anyone speak of lot of Heiltsuk like that in a long time. Hearing her talk inspired me to learn my Heiltsuk language. I want to be able to fluently speak it. In the next couple years I want to take the time to learn.

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A Community Priority

This is an excerpt from friends of Pacific Wild, Mike Reid and Sarah Stoner’s blog. To view the full blog, and read a letter a day to Mr. Harper, visit http://www.dearmrharper.com

July 22nd

Dear Mr. Harper, ImageThe community of Bella Bella hosted a rally against tankers and pipelines today: Community Voices III.  The Heiltsuk people, many of which call Bella Bella home, have been cast as aggressive protestors in the media.  There was nothing aggressive about this gathering, only sheer and heartfelt passion.  A passion and a duty to protect the lands and seas that are loved by so many, relied upon for nourishment and sustenance.

Over the course of the afternoon, people of all ages flocked to the rally to participate in traditional song, games, food, paint signs and flags, watch an oil-spill demonstration and hear Heiltsuk Chief Councillor, Marilyn Slett, present an informative slide show of her recent trip to Alberta’s tar sands.ImageCovered in tar for an oil spill demonstration

Councillor Slett’s testament was powerful.  She spoke passionately about a visit to Fort McKay, home to Cree and Dene First Nations.  They don’t have their cultural way of life anymore,” she said. “To hear from an elder in Fort McKay that they can’t eat the fish there, they can’t hunt, berries don’t grow—it really hit home for me”.

The tar sands tailings leaking into the Athabasca River are causing a cultural genocide in Northern Alberta.  The waters, the lands and the traditional foods and ways of life that come from them are too polluted, too toxic, to be consumed.  Cancer rates in Fort McKay and Fort Chipewyan, downstream from the tar sands are higher than average.  And even though alarm bells were raised in 2006, the Alberta government didn’t agree to fund a health study until the spring of 2011.

Downstream of the tar sands, the fate of First Nations’ health and culture is grim.  Not irreparable, but grim.  Let’s not let this become the situation on BC’s coast as well.

For the coast,

Sarah and Mike

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510km-Band Together BC reaches the halfway mark!

Kim Slater is almost at the halfway point of her 1170 km journey across BC that began at the BC Alberta border on July 8, 2012. Along the way, she has been connecting with individuals and communities about clean energy and alternatives to the Northern Gateway pipeline, with 2 notable gatherings in Williams Lake and Prince George.

Some of the ideas for a clean energy future that have emerged from these gatherings include: investing in renewables like solar, wind, geothermal, algae, tidal and micro-hydro; building community capacity for food and energy production; natural and green building, investing in bike and electric car infrastructure; and using energy more responsibly.” According to dialogue participants some of the barriers to making the transition to a clean energy future include a lack of political will, corporate power, an individualistic society and a lack of financial support from government and banking institutions.

“The dialogue participants have expressed a common interest in building resilient communities and finding creative ways of investing in local self-sustaining economies, food systems and renewable energy as well as reducing needless waste and over consumption;” observed Kim. “The sessions have been really optimistic.” Organizations such as Transition Town, which has a chapter in Williams Lake, offer many great examples for growing localism and self-sufficient communities; excellent alternatives to increasing our dependency on fossil fuels and growing the oil and gas industry that relies heavily on government subsidies, foreign ownership and fluctuating commodity prices.

Several more gatherings are planned, with details of the next two as follows: • Smithers: August 7, 7 pm (Old Church Venue) • Hazelton: August 9, 7 pm (Storytellers Venue)

On July 8, Kim Slater began her journey across the province to engage Northern communities in dialogue on renewable energy and alternatives to expanding the tar sands. She is sharing these informal conversations on the campaign website and blog, You Tube, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

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