Archive for September, 2012
Two Fridays ago we set up the fourth hydrophone in the Central Coast Hydrophone Network. This new station will allow us to begin monitoring the acoustics of Fitz Hugh Sound, an area known for its abundance of humpback and killer whales.
Hydrophone installations are complicated and involve a lot of unknowns. Will there be good signal? What does the bottom of the ocean look like? Is there a protected spot for the equipment box? Approaching King Island in the boat, we were all wondering these things, how long we would be there, and how many times we would have to come back before everything was working smoothly. From the shoreline, our broadcasting hub on the mountain on Campbell Island was not in view. The radios need a line of sight in order to connect with one another, so this was a problem. After some quick scouting, we found a tall hemlock just up the hill from our new station that looked like our best chance for radio contact. The last time I climbed a tree, I wound up with a lot of scratches, branches in my hair, and no signal. As I looked up into the forest canopy, I was not feeling optimistic.
Tree climbing, for the most part, is fun. Focus is key. With two lanyards, you can leapfrog branches, with one always wrapped safely around the tree while you unclip the other. If you unclip the wrong lanyard, however, you’d better hope gravity is taking a nap. Focusing on climbing then, it wasn’t until I came to a clear spot near the top of the tree that I noticed a small blip rising above the treeline of Denny Island. It was our mountain!
Once you’re up in the canopy with the eagles and the ravens, it’s fun to look around just so long as you don’t look down. After some sparse limbing, this view appeared. A couple more minutes and the radio was up, plugged in, and communicating with the rest of the network.
The next step was to get the hydrophone in the water. We were pleasantly surprised on the morning of our installation with the arrival of friend and occasional co-worker Tavish Campbell. After having just spent most of his summer skippering charter trips between Vancouver Island and Alaska he was surprisingly keen to jump in the boat with us and do some diving. As I got down from the tree Tavish was getting suited up to get in the water.
Diving is serious business and we were lucky to have a commercial diver with us to set things up properly. After a lengthy discussion of signals and depths, Tavish got in the water. He swam out to 90 feet with a float attached to a line. When he got to a spot on the bottom that looked appropriate, he was to send us “the signal”. The signal was a plastic bottle he took down with him. When it popped up, we went to where it had surfaced and started lowering the hydrophone, anchor, and leadline. Once it hit bottom, Tavish gave the float a sharp tug and we knew to start heading back to shore. Abandoning his float, Tavish started swimming towards the shore, following a crevasse in the rock. We followed his bubbles until we were able to jump off and unload the rest of the cable to take it up to the box. As Tavish surfaced, he gave an enthusiastic, “That went amazing!” So far so good at King Island.
Now that most of the hard work was done, we decided it was a good time for a lunch break. Sitting on the rocks watching a passing ferry, we were briefly alarmed as the ferry stopped and started to turn around. Immediately we thought, man overboard, and rushed to the boat to turn on the radio to see if there was a mayday call. After hearing nothing and taking a closer look, we realized that what actually caused the ferry to turn around were two humpback whales breaching and feeding in a tideline. Even from the other side of Fitz Hugh Sound we could see the sun lighting up the splashes they were making. Feeling relieved, and then excited, we jumped in the boat to go have a look. A mother and calf who, of course, had stopped breaching by time we got there, were rolling about and feeding on the thousands of fish caught in the current.
Pleased that we’d selected a site that was already receiving whale traffic, we returned to finish the installation. The next step was to set up a solar panel to recharge our battery bank. With good southern exposure and a nice straight cedar tree, this was a simple feat. With our 450 amp hour battery bank, our stations can operate for almost a month without being recharged. Sunshine in the Great Bear can be hard to come by during the winter months, but this 120 watt panel will be enough to keep us going.
The final stages of this installation were the easiest, but not without suspense. Connecting the power to the radio, and the hydrophone to the digital encoder, there is always a moment where you wonder if you will hear the sound of the ocean coming clear through the headphones as you plug them in. Here’s Diana listening. Crystal clear!
Just yesterday, Coastal First Nations issued a press release banning trophy hunting in their traditional territories. Check out the full press release below.
To take action and support a ban on trophy hunting, visit : http://pacificwild.org/site/take_action/trophy-hunt-campaign.html
(Klemtu, BC, September 12, 2012) First Nations on BC’s North and Central Coast have declared a ban on the trophy bear hunt in their traditional territories. “We will protect bears from cruel and unsustainable trophy hunts by any and all means,” said Kitasoo/Xaixais First Nation Chief Doug Neasloss.
The trophy bear hunt is an issue that has been brewing in First Nations communities for several years, said Neasloss. “Despite years of effort by the Coastal First Nations to find a resolution to this issue with the Province this senseless and brutal trophy hunt continues.”
It’s not unreasonable to expect that in the Great Bear Rainforest all bears would flourish, he said. “Unfortunately, trophy hunting continues to be permitted in the majority of Great Bear Rainforest, including its protected areas and conservancies.”
Jessie Housty, a councillor with the Heiltsuk Nation, said bears are often gunned down by trophy hunters near shorelines as they forage for food. “It’s not a part of our culture to kill an animal for sport and hang them on a wall. When we go hunting it’s for sustenance purposes not trophy hunting. ”
Only a total ban on trophy hunting will ensure that bear populations can support the tourism opportunities that add valuable income to our communities, said Housty. “Trophy hunting is a threat to the lucrative ecotourism industry that we are creating. Tourists often come back year after year to watch the same bears and their young grow.”
Because the Province is negligent in their responsibility to monitor the trophy hunt the Coastal First Nations will now assume responsibility for bear management on the Coast, Neasloss said. “We will now assume the authority to monitor and enforce a closure of this senseless trophy hunt.”
The Coastal First Nations are an alliance of First Nations that includes the Wuikinuxv Nation, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xaixais, Nuxalk, Gitga’at, Haisla, Metlakatla, Old Massett, Skidegate, and Council of the Haida Nation working together to create a sustainable economy on British Columbia’s North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii.
A guest blog post by Emma Hume
After a few days working in the float lab where the Pacific Wild team sets up and monitors its cameras and hydrophones, Max and Diana were ready to install a pair of remote cameras. On a river a short boat ride away from Pacific Wild headquarters, one underwater camera would monitor salmon and below the surface happenings, while the other would provide an eagle eye view of the entire estuary.
When we arrived, salmon schooled at the mouth of the river, jumped sporadically and swam in circles, their shark-like dorsal fins making it clear they were waiting for something. But where the ocean met the river, the fresh and salt water mixed to created an underwater sheen, and only a few salmon could be seen. Though they weren’t ready to spawn, the long grasses in the estuary were strewn with salmon carcasses – some half eaten, others missing only their heads or eyes.
Even further upriver fresh bear scat was full of berries, and the huckleberry bushes along the bank missing half their leaves suggested bears were still choosing to fill their bellies with berries rather than fish. With the salmon spawn less than a full moon away, it was the perfect time to install the cameras.
A day was spent up a tall and branchy old growth sitka spruce testing for the radio signal needed to connect the cameras to the float lab. Unfortunately even the top of this spruce couldn’t get us signal up river, so we decided to return the next day to try a spot further downstream on a tree overhanging the river.
Once we had radio single it was smooth sailing. An unwieldy cable that would transmit video captured by the cameras to the radio, and back to the float lab, was strung along the river bank and up into the trees. There it was connected to a box containing a fuel cell, batteries, and the various electronics necessary to transmit the signal. The team built a rock house for the underwater camera on the side of a gravel bar. The other camera, which looked more like a bulging frog eye than a camera, was installed on a tree overlooking the estuary. The two cameras were connected into the whole system with more snaking black cord.
All of a sudden, by connecting a small laptop to the cords wiggling out of the box, we could see the tall grasses of the estuary blowing in the wind behind us, only this time on the computer screen. The river continued gurgling towards the sea and a raven croaked in the distance. It was all recorded. We left as the rain began to fall. The salmon were still swimming circles at the mouth of the river, silver from their years at sea, and the schools were thicker than the day before.
Less than a week later the cameras caught a pack of wolves eating salmon, playing, scratching and doing their best to tolerate pesky ravens. As we watched, this time from the float lab, we talked about how magical it was to watch life on a salmon river unfold from afar.
Photos by Emma Hume
Congratulations to the wonderful Kim Slater who ran then length of the pipeline and visited communities across Northern BC to discuss our energy future. A marathon a day for 47 days is an incredible achievement! Thank you Kim for your dedication, support and enthusiasm! Read more from Kim below.
Here at Pacific Wild, we are inspired by the number of people that are taking it upon themselves to make their voices heard. We see an array of art projects, videos, photographs, films and events–each of which are unique and impactful in their own way.
Check out the song and video Pipeline Blues, written by Barry Truter with photography by Urs Boxler.
If you have a song, pictures, story, animation or any creative way/event that is ‘Making Your Voice Heard’ for a No Tanker/No Pipeline Coast, please send it along to us <firstname.lastname@example.org> and we’ll post it to our Facebook page!
Join hundreds of British Columbians in greening their commutes and raising awareness about the proposed oil pipeline development threatening our coast!
After its first season of existence and many thousands of kilometers pedaled, the cyclists and sponsors of Bikes not Pipes are happy to add their contribution to the growing opposition to pipelines and tankers in British Columbia. Several hundreds of dollars were already raised to support the work of organizations such as Pacific Wild and even more pounds of CO2 remained in the ground where it belongs.
The basic idea behind Bikes Not Pipes is to get more people to leave their cars home and ride their bikes as much as possible. Those who can’t ride regularly have an opportunity to support those who can by sponsoring their efforts and turn every kilometer ridden rather than driven into a source of financing for organizations that fight tanker traffic and pipeline development in BC.
We are excited to launch our second season from September 1st 2012 to January 1st 2013 and are hoping that many more cyclists and sponsors will join us in our effort. People can join anytime.
For more information about Bikes Not Pipes or to join in, please contact us at email@example.com or visit the Bikes Not Pipes Community page on Facebook.