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By Loren Clark-Moe
This is the post that I have been oh so excited to write from the moment I got here and I cannot believe that I get to be part of this effort! In my very first post I mentioned a video that we were working on. I also promised that there would be more on that in a bit. Well, here it is!
My first visit to the Great Bear Rainforest was in September, where I was introduced to the region’s stunning beauty and incredible wildlife. On the second day up here, I went kayaking and our group spotted a pack of wolves on the shore. We spent the next few hours following this wolfpack, as they ran around their territory and met up with more members of their pack. It was an amazing, magical introduction to the Great Bear Rainforest that left me totally enamored.
That same night, I learned of Pacific Wild’s Great Bear LIVE program that brings the world of the Great Bear Rainforest straight to us online. I was fascinated to hear Ian and Karen’s amazing stories about being able to document wolves, sea lions, sea otters, whales, and anything else that comes into view in a non-invasive way. A few weeks later, I learned that Pacific Wild was moving forward to expand this program and create even more ways to capture this world on camera for the world’s viewing pleasure.
And so, without further ado, I am beyond pleased to help announce Pacific Wild’s Indiegogo fundraising campaign to expand the Great Bear LIVE program!
Hopefully you are signed up for Pacific Wild’s Great Bear LIVE Alerts that let everyone know when the wolves are out fishing. That camera feed is part of the Great Bear LIVE program, and lets us watch a very active part of the rainforest all day long. What it currently cannot do, however, is capture the nighttime and underwater aspects of this world, and this is what Pacific Wild wants to give us all access to.
The campaign is asking for everyone’s help to raise money to purchase a night vision camera and an underwater camera so that Pacific Wild can bring the world a comprehensive view of this amazing ecosystem. If the campaign is successful, Pacific Wild will be able to install a night vision camera along with the current daytime camera in the estuary, providing 24/7 coverage of this very active part of the rainforest. Pacific Wild will also be able to place underwater camera in different waterways, to capture everything going on beneath the water’s surface.
What I love about this campaign is that this is something that every single person with an internet connection will be able to use and enjoy. You will quite literally see the result of your contribution in action as you watch even more of this amazing world come to life. Oh, and in terms of incentives to contribute, did I mention that (in addition to other great giveaways) anyone who contributes will be entered into a raffle for a chance to control the cameras once they’ve been installed?! Don’t worry, I’ve tried it a bit up here and its pretty easy to get the hang of.
Here’s the video for the campaign, where Pacific Wild team member Max explains everything about the campaign and why it’s so important!
So please go check out the campaign and spread the word that the Great Bear LIVE program is expanding to bring us even more of the wolves, sea lions, eagles, sea otters and whales that we love to watch! With our support, Pacific Wild will be able to give us a front row seat to images from the nocturnal and underwater worlds of the Great Bear, so let’s make it happen!
Zalinski – Cleaning up Oil or Image
Last winter I found myself descending slowly down a black wall, my dive partner Tavish Campbell, somewhere off to my left is only recognized by the narrow beam of his dive light. The depth gauge registered 100 feet so I figured I must have missed the shipwreck. I kicked off into the water column and suddenly found myself face to face with a towering wall of steel; long lines of rivets disappeared into the dark.
I was staring at the shipwreck of the the 250 foot-long USAT Brigadier General M. G. Zalinski, a U.S. army transport ship that sank in the Grenville channel north of Hartley Bay in 1946.
Just on the other side of the steel hull it is reported that 12- 500 pound aerial bombs and countless smaller munitions lay undisturbed. Surprisingly, late on that wet and windy night so many years ago the ship rolled down the steep wall and landed on a very narrow ledge. By all accounts it should have kept rolling to the bottom, another 250 feet.
Fast forward to today, and the Zalinski is back in the news with the Canadian Coast Guard planning to remove the 600 or so tonnes of bunker oil (unclear if they plan on removing the bombs) that lay entombed inside.
The media is reporting that this will help bolster the government’s claim that the Canadian Coast Guard’s oil spill response capability is “world class” and can handily deal with ever-increasing LNG and bitumen tanker proposals facing the Great Bear Rainforest.
But I don’t follow.
First off, the Coast Guard had 70 years to figure out how to clean up the Zalinski wreck, yet suddenly they are spending a reported $50 million (and probably substantially more) during the winter storm season? The cleanup of the Zalinski is conveniently timed to coincide with the December decision by the National Energy Board on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker proposal.
The other issue that raises eyebrows is Canada’s choice of hiring the Dutch company Mammoet to do the cleanup. This seems to tell us more about Dutch capabilities than our own.
And what does the Zalinski have to do with modern Canadian oil spill clean up capabilities? The ship is sitting in one hundred feet of water in the relatively calm and protected waters of Grenville Channel. These are dream maritime conditions for an oil spill clean up by any standards on this coast. If the ship had kept rolling on that late night so many years ago, more than likely the Coast Guard would have continued to ignore the problem similar to its ongoing response to the Queen of the North wreck.
The Grenville Channel does get strong current but it cannot be compared to the treacherous waters that the 1500 foot long, 2 million barrel capacity VLCC tankers that are proposed to ply our coast, just a few miles to the south, would have to face each day.
The best thing that this $50 million dollar cleanup will achieve is something that should have been done years ago and at the expense of the U.S. government (it was their ship that sank after all) yet somehow Canadians are supposed to feel comforted by our Coast Guard’s ability to conduct serious oil spill response and cleanup? And that’s assuming they actually succeed in sucking the oil out of this wreck.
While the Canadian Coast Guard and their Dutch-for-hire spill recovery company fiddles around with the Zalinski, the real and more pressing issue of oil spill response capabilities continues to build with the onset of winter weather and the looming decision by the National Energy Board.
The waters just to the south of Grenville Channel have been listed by Environment Canada as the fourth most dangerous body of water in the world with recorded waves close to 100 feet in height. This is where a major shipping disaster would most likely take place. It is here that Canada will have to prove its ability to respond to an Exxon Valdez size –or much greater- oil spill disaster.
Not in the quiet waters of Grenville channel – 70 years late.
Denny Island celebrated its first year of participation in International Bog Day, July 28th, with fun events highlighting the importance of this widespread ecosystem in the Great Bear Rainforest. International Bog Day is celebrated in various locations throughout the northern hemisphere on this day every year. The central and north coast regions have about as much wetland as they do closed-canopy forest, and most of that wetland is blanket bog complex, a mosaic of forested, shrubby, and open bog types. Here is some mind-boggling information about bogs.
What is a bog? A bog is a wetland dominated by plants, particularly Sphagnum mosses, which decompose very slowly and accumulate in the wetland. Bogs are also called mire, quagmire, and muskeg, and they can be found throughout the boreal ecosystems of the northern hemisphere as well as in some parts of the southern hemisphere. Bogs occur in cool, wet climates where the surface water is acidic and low in available nutrients, and where the rock substrate is also nutrient-poor. Low fertility and cool climate result in slow plant growth, but plant decay is even slower because the soil is saturated with water. There are two primary ways that a bog can develop: bogs can form as Sphagnum moss grows over a lake or pond and slowly fills it (terrestrialization), or bogs can form as sphagnum moss blankets dry land and prevents water from leaving the surface (paludification). Over hundreds or thousands of years, many feet of acidic peat (partially decayed plant) deposits build up in bogs of either origin.
The blanket bog-forest complex that we have in the coastal rainforest is a dynamic system where open bogs can develop into forests and vice versa, due to small changes in climate and water flow over long periods of time. Peatlands in this region are thought to have begun expanding into productive forests during a cooler and wetter period beginning 3500-6000 years ago.
The amount of bog on the outer coast is also a factor of infrequent disturbance (ie. from fire or flooding) and of bedrock geology; in most areas there is little to no glacial till, and soils develop directly from weathering of bedrock or eroded bedrock sediments. Bedrock types contrast sharply on the outer coast, from slow-weathering types with low nutrient elements, to much softer, fast-weathering types like limestone, which provide ample soil nutrients. Differences in topography (slope and drainage) and the underlying bedrock result in the different forest types that we see.
On Bog Day, a group of locals and visitors hiked into the upland bog to learn about the plants and animals that thrive there, and about the importance of bogs. Bogs are tremendous carbon sinks, they help to moderate climate, they store fresh water and prevent flooding, and they provide habitat to all kinds of species, like carnivorous plants and Sandhill cranes. Our destination was a Sandhill crane nest, already vacated by the birds, who seem to prefer the small islets of Sphagnum mosses and other plants in bog pools for their nest sites on this part of the coast. We spotted two cranes on our hike, and collected 4 moulted feathers to be used for DNA extraction in order to compare genetic markers of our small coastal population (approximately 4,200 cranes summering between the north end of Vancouver Island and SE Alaska) to those of inland cranes.
We are fortunate to have so many healthy wetlands in this region. In northern Europe, where they have been drained extensively for other land uses and peat extraction has occurred on a large scale, only 10% of bogs remain intact. A significant proportion of Canadian bogs have been altered for berry production or destroyed for horticultural peat extraction. On the B.C. coast, bog forests are considered ‘lower-productivity’ by the forest industry, but market demand for red and yellow cedar may eventually drive logging into the bog. Cleared bog forests may not regrow trees because of the increase in rainfall runoff, which raises the water table. Extensive research has already gone into making these ancient and slow-growing forests ‘operable’ for harvesting. Windfarms have been established on the blanket bog of northern Vancouver Island and on many bogs in northern Europe. They have been proposed for uninhabited, undeveloped outer coastal islands in B.C. such as Aristizabal and Price Islands and in Haida Gwaii. Road and platform construction associated with windfarms can alter bog hydrology, introduce exotic species, and change predator-prey dynamics resulting in long-term ecological damage.
Many thanks to all of the participants, including the prize-winning bog swimmers and hike co-coordinator Marlene Wagner, to Pacific Wild, Shearwater Marine Resort, and Rosie’s Boutique for hosting this event, and to TD Friends of the Environment Foundation for financial support.
Spring, Summer and Autumn are busy, exciting and often hectic times for ‘happenings’ not only in the field, but also further afield from our base in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia. While my colleagues install hydrophones and field cameras in even more remote locations to monitor cetacean life and capture rare camera footage of wildlife in the wilderness, and work closely with First Nations communities on the No Tankers campaign, I am busy on the outreach side of Pacific Wild. I firmly believe by using these visual and auditory techniques, we can raise public awareness to pipeline/tanker issues and further threats from industrial logging, LNG, trophy hunting and open net-cage fish farms. This beautiful short video was just released which illustrates the wildlife, underwater ecosystems, and temperate rainforest we are dedicated to protecting.
The spring started off in spectacular fashion at the Solidarity for Salmon event on March 31st in Victoria. Along with 7 other people, including a life-long supporter and great friend of Pacific Wild, Mary Vickers, we proudly pushed M’ia, a 27 foot spawning sockeye salmon puppet, through the streets of Victoria, B.C. to the Legislature buildings. M’ia is a symbol of what films like the insightful yet disturbing Salmon Confidential are opening the general public’s awareness up to.
We got even more ‘hands on’ at the Creatively United Festival in Victoria on April 19-21. Filling an aquarium with various kinds of kelp and other ocean matter, we dropped in a portable hydrophone to invoke listening to the ‘depths’ off of recordings from the Pacific Wild hydrophone network in the Great Bear Sea. Sharing our tent at the festival was one of my personal heroes, Charlie Russell, the Grizzly Bear Legend. He is a gentleman that I am most in awe of for his life work on bear behaviour and their emotional and physical relationship with humans and human interaction. He is truly a legend. I thank him dearly for watching Pacific Wild remote field camera footage with us and treasure his insight into coastal bear behaviour.
June saw the release of STAND. Without a doubt, the absolute highlight so far of the summer was to be at the screening of STAND in Bella Bella with the young adults from Bella Bella Community School. Featured in the film, these students put such heart, soul, and effort into building their personal paddleboards. Their voices are eloquent and strong in voicing their opinion for an oil-free coast. This award-winning film is a ‘must see’, and is currently being screened across North America.
Throughout the summer, various kids camps have been implementing and incorporating lessons, ideas and learning from The Salmon Bears and The Sea Wolves, books by Ian McAllister and Nicolas Read. It has been a joy to work with children and the instructors in watching remote field camera footage, listening to hydrophones, recreating the GBR in camp forests. Being involved in youth education and nature outreach programs is a passion of mine. If you, your child’s school, or educational facility would be interested to learn how to incorporate the nature of the Great Bear Rainforest into your classroom, please contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org
We would love to see you at upcoming events….
July 31 – The Fortune Wild premiere at The Imperial (319 Main St. Vancouver). Doors open at 8pm.This event is a fundraiser for Pacific Wild and Haida Gwaii CoAST (Communities Against Super Tankers), featuring live music, an exhibit and silent auction of Ian McAllister’s stunning photography and of course, the first ever public screening of Fortune Wild!
August 23+24 – Join an amazing line-up of musicians, bands, and artists at the first annual Otalith Music Festival in beautiful Ucluelet, B.C. Feauturing Current Swell, The Cave Singers, Jon and Roy, White Buffalo and so much more. Otalith are looking for volunteers!
September – Release of The Great Bear Sea – Exploring the Marine Life of a Pacific Paradise. This new book by Ian McAllister and Nicholas Read explores the intricate relationship between this mysterious underwater ecosystem and the life it supports. Watch an interview with Ian McAllister discussing the book on Global News, July 31, 2013. The book is available to purchase on the website.
September 14 – Salmon Festival – If you find yourself in the Great Bear Rainforest, namely in Bella Bella on this day, join us for this community event – The Wild Gourmet Salmon Cook-Off – Masterchef Style in the great outdoors!
Mark November 21st in your calendars for a Gala night at The Garth Homer Society in Victoria. Featuring a presentation and slideshow by Ian McAllister on underwater photography as well as a gallery opening of themes from the Great Bear Rainforest created by incredibly talented Garth Homer clients. More details to come on this event.
As you can tell, I love my “Jill-of-all-Trades’ work at Pacific Wild. We are a very close team, and I am motivated by them everyday. Who wouldn’t be? Check out blog posts by staff on their activities in the field. Most recently the sail training internship with SEAS (Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewardships) Initiative.
Huge thank you to all the volunteers who help myself, and the Pacific Wild team in making these outreach programs, events and festivals come together. Please contact me at email@example.com if you are interested in volunteering, hosting a film event, want to know ways to take action, want to bring the life and nature of the Great Bear Rainforest into your classroom, or just to say hello!
Hope to see you around!
May 31st, 2013
Christy Clark’s 5 Conditions for Heavy Oil Pipeline Consideration have not been met, launching a frenzy of media statements claiming that the Province of British Columbia has rejected Enbridge Northern Gateway’s proposal.
The truth is that the Province has simply rejected the proposal for now, stating that as it sits, ENGP’s proposal does not meet the 5 conditions laid out by Christy Clark’s government in July of last year. Specifically, the Province outlines that the spill-response measures outlined in the proponents application to build a crude oil pipeline from Alberta’s Tar Sands to the Great Bear Sea has not presented sufficient evidence of effective spill response.
The Province has recognized that Northern Gateway has not met an adequate level of safety and environmental standards, “that NG should not be granted a certificate on the basis of a promise to do more study and planning once the certificate is granted”. “Trust me is not good enough in this case”, states the Province’s Final Written Argument.
This is good news, but should be approached with cautious optimism.
The Province’s language is weak, and is not binding in any way. This announcement is essentially a re-assertion of the 5 Conditions and still leaves room for approval of the project at the Federal level.
For now we can quietly, and temporarily, celebrate the fact that the Province has sent a strong message to Ottawa. However this ‘opposition’ must be taken with a grain of salt, as really all that the province is asking for is “clear, measurable and enforceable conditions that require NG to live up to the commitments it has made”. Whether or not this is anything more than political posturing remains to be seen.
by Michael Reid
There is no more second-guessing our collective efforts when it comes to defending our coast. Last night’s much-anticipated Provincial leaders debate offered a reminder of how pipeline politics have gone from relative obscurity to the very forefront of political debate.
Words like oil, gas, pipelines and tankers are dominating this year’s provincial election and all the oil money in the world doesn’t seem to be changing the minds of British Columbians as they continue to speak out for this coast. Of course, what was lacking last night was meaningful and courageous leadership that put forward a vision of this coast without a constant stream of oil and gas tankers plying our fragile waters. A vision that focused on renewable energy and a conservation-based economy. But at least the first issue of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline and Kinder Morgan’s expansion were debated and we heard the position of each party.
Now it’s up to us to decide and the stakes have never been higher.
Our current federal government has systematically thrown out nearly all environmental safeguards that once defended our fish and wildlife, our only hope for any environmental safeguards has to come from our provincial leaders. They still have the ability and opportunity to stand up for what British Columbians value.
People from every walk of life are building support and momentum for change. Along with grassroots movements like Idle No More, Occupy and Defend Our Coast we are making the political debate focus on the environment.
Low voter-turnout is a constant issue in B.C. The last provincial election saw only half of eligible voters show up at the polls . It’s up to you make your voice count. So get out there.
What do you care about?
How can you make your voice count?
Vote for the coast.
Ian McAllister being filmed photographing a playful group of sea lions along the proposed Enbridge and LNG tanker route in the Great Bear Rainforest. This group of sea lions lives less than one kilometer from an estimated 2000 tanker trips being proposed for the BC north coast. Footage supplied by Tavish Campbell 2013.