Posts Tagged Great Bear LIVE

Another Day in the Life of Conservation Work- Part I

Maureen Vo is a volunteer for the Great Bear LIVE project.

Sounds of the Ocean

You can research everything there is to know about the area and Google the breathtaking images, but nothing can truly prepare you for the incredible connection and admiration you will feel once you arrive in a place like the Great Bear Rainforest.

A passion for conservation and a desire to protect British Columbia’s coastal environment brought me to Pacific Wild headquarters in the heart of the GBR. My goal was to learn as much as I could about their work, the research, and the non-intrusive technology they are using to study wildlife.

One particular technology I was curious to learn about was their system of hydrophones, which have been set up at several sites along the central coast of B.C. The hydrophones allow for live acoustic monitoring year-round in order to better understand how a variety of marine mammal species utilize the waters along the coast of the GBR.

Diana, the resident conservation biologist and systems guru, already introduced me to how the systems work and how the hydrophone spectrographs show contrasting pink spikes or ripples against the blue background when sounds have been detected. I was excited to get started as I sat there in the floating lab and started my first acoustic monitoring session.

The hydrophones are recorded in 15-minute intervals, and you go through each session to search for any interesting sounds. For the most part, the ocean is pretty quiet with the occasional sound of random things bumping or brushing up against the hydrophones. As I opened a new recording, I noticed there was a large pink area indicating a lot of sound activity. My excitement was building as I thought about high-pitched dolphin squeals or glorious whale songs. As I listened intently, I could hear the noise getting louder and louder, but this was no whale. My hopes quickly faded as I realized this was simply a boat passing by. Patience is a virtue, and I realized it may take a while before activity might occur.

I eventually came upon a session with sounds from the phenomenon of humpback bubble net feeding, which was incredible to hear and made all the sifting through silence that much more rewarding.

Maureen

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Hydrophone spectrograph showing no sound activity

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Hydrophone spectrograph illuminated with sounds of a beautiful whale song

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Diana surrounded by a multitude of technology

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Mountain Maintenance

July, 2014

by April Bencze

The boat engine roars to life as Diana and I untie from the dock this misty morning. Clay the dog is curled up in the only wind-free spot on the boat as we make the short passage to Bella Bella from Denny Island. Leandrea, a Pacific Wild intern, greets us at the dock on the other side. With tool kits in hand and gumboots on foot, we climb in the truck and head up the mountain to perform some electrical maintenance to keep the hydrophones and remote cameras operating smoothly.

Steadily the truck climbs the inclining path, peeling apart the overgrown branches on either side of the road as we pass by. It is a soggy morning atop the mountain. Although we cannot see it, we know a spectacular view must sit beneath the blankets of thick mist hanging over the surrounding islands and waterways below.

We arrive at the relay station where solar panels face the sky, a wind turbine spins and satellite dishes high atop a mast connect with the cameras and hydrophones dotted around the coast. Diana unlocks the control boxes containing batteries and wiring, and the team gets to work replacing temporary switches and improving the flow of wires.

The mist begins to lift, slowly uncovering the spattering of islands surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. Once finished with the maintenance, Diana and Leandrea pull out the netbook to test the improved system. After flicking the switch back on, lights illuminate and Diana sounds pleasantly surprised as she informs us that everything is working smoothly, on the first try! The bugs who kept close company, borrowing some blood as we worked, must have been a motivating factor to do it right initially. So we label the reconfigured wires in the electrical box, top up the water in the batteries and close up the relay station for the day. Down the mountain we go, stopping for deer on the overgrown roadway. The boat ride back to Pacific Wild headquarters is a dry one as the soggy morning begins to evaporate.

After lunch we attend an Enbridge Opposition strategy meeting put on by the Heiltsuk Nation at the Community Hall in Bella Bella. We brainstorm ideas to halt the pipeline project in its oily tracks. The sense of community and connection with the land and ocean is alive in the hall as we put pen to paper, letting ideas flow to protect British Columbia’s natural coastline from pipeline and tanker threats.

We are now in the floatlab for the rest of the afternoon, Diana and the interns closely monitor the hydrophones as orcas sing into the microphones, and porpoises surface outside the window of the lab. One of the remote cameras is trained on the sea lion haul-out on the outer coast as they enjoy an afternoon nap. It is another great day at Pacific Wild headquarters.

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GreatBearLIVE – View sea birds and marine mammal interactions on this sea lion haul out on the Great Bear’s rugged outer coast. Press play to view the underwater camera in the seal garden – a nearby kelp forest and eelgrass bed. Sign up for Great Bear LIVE Alerts to stay up-to-date on the latest action and watch highlights here.

April

 

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Spring in the Rainforest

Spring in the Rainforest – By April Bencze

June 2014

It is difficult to understand a place you have never been before. Pacific Wild introduced me to the ecosystems thriving in the Great Bear Rainforest on British Columbia’s wild coast long before I came here. They have unveiled the behaviours and interactions of wildlife using non-invasive, high-quality camera systems streaming live from remote locations, bringing you a piece of the Rainforest, wherever you may be in the world. Before I ever set foot here, Pacific Wild brought me face to face with wolves, bears and marine life with still images that captivated, inspired and introduced me to the many faces of this place.

I first met the wolves of this coast through Ian McAllister’s photography and conservation efforts. Then I met the bears, followed by the inhabitants of the underwater world. Ian’s images and those from the remote cameras brought me into the heart of a place I had never been, uncovering the lives of creatures I would not have known existed, like the spirit bear. I felt connected and driven to protect the Great Bear Rainforest, and all those who call it home. As a diver and wildlife photographer, I knew my future would be tied to British Columbia’s central coast, due to the strength with which it affected me. So here I am, at Pacific Wild headquarters operating the remote cameras from the Float Lab.

I was born and raised in Campbell River, on the east coast of Vancouver Island in Southern British Columbia. I spent a year scuba diving in Australia and Indonesia, before returning to my home waters to dive my days away. Photography slipped itself into my life through an urge to share the underwater world with the people around me. It quickly became much more and I find myself in the pursuit of a life dedicated to conservation of the natural world through photography. There is a responsibility to the subject after the shutter is pressed and an image is created. It is an obligation to share their story, and unfortunately many of the lives I am photographing are threatened.

This is what brings me to the Great Bear Rainforest, to do what I can to help protect the wildlife from the many threats they are facing. Pacific Wild has been an inspiration and I am thrilled to be volunteering my time to aid in their conservation efforts. Three weeks ago, I loaded up my touring bicycle with my camping equipment, camera gear and a cooler of food. Six days of riding from Campbell River brought me to Port Hardy, where I jumped on a short flight to Bella Bella.

I am blown away by the diverse habitats and life seen in my short time exploring this coast. I have traveled to many corners of the world, yet nothing can compare to the natural beauty I have witnessed in my time here. After the past few weeks of listening to whale song on the hydrophones and observing the wildlife in the Great Bear Rainforest, I am beginning to understand just how devastating supertankers in these waters would be. It would be destructive for the people, the land, the wild and marine life of the most untouched place I have ever seen. I’m incredibly thankful to the First Nations people and conservation groups who are working, and will continue to work, tirelessly to stand up for our coast.

Yesterday, Ian and I left Pacific Wild headquarters to do some camera maintenance. We headed out by boat during calm seas. As we passed numerous small, rocky islands, it was apparent that it was June in the Great Bear Rainforest. Harbour seals with newborn pups dotted the shorelines, sea otters bobbed in the kelp, and Oystercatchers trilled from their nests. New life was buzzing all around us as we cleaned the camera housings and completed some electrical maintenance.

The remote camera systems are proving to be a powerful tool in telling the story of this coast. Right now, one of the cameras is trained on a Steller sea lion rookery on the outer coast. It is capturing the birthing and nursing of this year’s pups on the live feed and distributing it to the world. I am in awe recording the intimate daily behaviors of the sea lions, in a way I have never been able to when out photographing them in the field. Please watch a compilation of sea lion and bird footage I pieced together in the weeks I have been here. The stories of the numerous species of wildlife continue to unfold before my eyes with these cameras. I hope you are watching the live cameras and meeting the local wildlife who call this coast home as well!

April

Follow Pacific Wild on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @pacificwild

Help support our Digital Technitian Geoff Campbell and his friend Mikhayla’s “Ride for the Wild” Indiegogo campaign. Geoff and Mikhayla are undertaking a A2,500km bike expedition down the Pacific Coast to raise money to fight pipeline development & increased tanker traffic in British Columbia.

 

 

 

 

 

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Road to Pacific Wild

 

Our volunteer copywriter Danielle explains how a Lake Louise wildlife centre and a search on Google led her to the Great Bear Rainforest.

Three months ago, I’d never even heard of the Great Bear Rainforest. Now, here I am, living in the thick of it.

I came to Canada in April last year, an English woman hankering after the outdoors. The real outdoors. Open horizons, epic mountains, space. I came looking for forests and rich-hued lakes, for the great mammals, for a life lived in closer connection with the Earth. I came in search of the wilds that in my so-called ‘old’ country no longer exist. I found all of this, and it put me on a path that led to Denny Island, and Pacific Wild HQ.

Bear fact

My epiphany happened back in August, during a trip to the Canadian Rockies. At a wildlife interpretive centre in Lake Louise, I was sadden to learn that the majority of recorded bear deaths in the Rocky Mountain parks are a direct result of human activity. Behind the bear-wary precautions we took as tourists out on the hiking trails – singing, jangling bells, scrutinizing scat – and behind our half-nervous jokes about ending up as a bear snack, a real irony lay. As much as we were sensible to give Canada’s great iconic mammal a wide berth, the truth is that we have far less reason to fear it than it does to be terrified of us.

Once I’d seen wild Black bears with my own eyes, that was it. I couldn’t get those beautiful bears, or their breathtaking habitat, out of my head. My growing concern for a world of shrinking forests and melting ice caps, and my growing love for Canada – the real, wild Canada – spurred me into action. I wanted to experience the wilderness, and I wanted to make my own contribution towards protecting it.

Unearthing the Great Bear

After some rummaging around on Google, I found Pacific Wild. I learned that there was a Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia. I learned that Black bears could be white, and that it’s legal to shoot grizzlies for no other reason than a warped and marginally held concept of ‘sport’. I learned just how willfully governments, conventional energy corporations and a tiny minority of B.C.’s citizens are ignoring the astonishing, life-affirming natural wealth that’s been gifted to them. One of the last untouched stretches of our blue marble planet. A place I traveled seven and a half thousand kilometres to discover.

My role in the all-new Pacific Wild website!

So here I am on Denny Island. I’m thrilled that my skills in charity comms and Web writing are being put to good use in the development of Pacific Wild’s brand new site. I can’t wait to see it launched! It’s going to be visually stunning, informative and easy to navigate – a showcase for the world-class photography, Great Bear LIVE footage and audio that will have the natural world leaping off your screens and into your homes, wherever you may be.

I hope that the new pacificwild.org will aid your own discoveries of this ancient coastal forest, its waterways and ocean – all teeming with life. May it bring a touch of wild beauty to your day. And may that experience inspire you to take action in whatever small way you can. It’s your little act, added to the little acts of many others, that in the end will add up to a big force for change.

We’ll be announcing the launch date of the new pacificwild.org on our social media sites in the coming weeks, so make sure you follow us on Facebook,  Twitter and Instagram @pacificwild to stay up to date!

Danielle

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From D.C. to B.C. Part V: Launch of the Indiegogo Campaign!

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!

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From D.C. to B.C. Part IV

There is an epic struggle between the playful wolf pups’ love of chewing and Pacific Wild’s desire to have a functioning camera in the estuary where they fish. In my last post I wrote about how Rob and I went out to repair the camera feed and the next day we were all rewarded with watching 5 wolves all morning via the Pacific Wild website. Unfortunately, that was short lived. Two days after we fixed the cables the first time, we awoke to a lack of camera feed and, to our dismay, saw that they had discovered our cable once again and chewed right through it.

We decided it was time for a new approach, so Rob, Diana and I went out with some new supplies, namely metal pipes, that we hoped would keep them away from the wires. Like most of the BC coast, it’s been incredibly foggy the past few days, so daylight was a huge factor and it started getting very dark very early. While the fog would’ve made for a stunning photograph, it wasn’t great for actually getting the task at hand completed. So we laid new pipes, rewired new cable, and tried securing it all as quickly as possible before it got too dark to see anything. We finished up just in time, and had our fingers crossed for a working camera feed the next morning.

No such luck: the camera was down and we could only assume the pups had gone straight for the cable again overnight. When we went back out to see what had happened, we discovered that the silly wolf pups had seemed to enjoy the new pipes even more than our previous set up, to the point that it looked like they had participated in an epic tug-of-war game.

Loren and Diana expressing their feelings about the cables becoming chew toys

Loren and Diana expressing their feelings about the cables becoming chew toys

So we tried yet again! It was a gorgeous day, so we had no trouble with the amount of daylight and it was nice and warm. But the pretty weather didn’t help another factor: the smell of hundreds and hundreds of rotting salmon carcasses. It’s all part of the great cycle of life up here, but my goodness does it make for some strong smells! Another fun factor, as you all have probably noticed when watching the camera feed, is that the tide comes in and out pretty dramatically in the estuary. Though the tide was pretty low when we first got there, after a few hours our work area started flooding as the tide came in, making it trickier to keep the equipment and ourselves dry. (***thank goodness for gum boots***)

Flooded estuary/workspace

Flooded estuary/workspace

While ignoring the smell and avoiding the flood, we set out yet again to get the cables out of the reach of the chew-crazy wolf pups. As I mentioned in my first post on the Great Bear Blog, I work for the U.S. government, which spends a lot of time thinking about national security. In my job, we talk a lot about building a “layered approach” to security, as any one method has vulnerabilities and cannot be relied upon 100%. I started to think this might be applicable to the security of Pacific Wild’s cable and that if we could add multiple layers of protection so the mischievous wolf pups weren’t immediately rewarded with yummy cable goodness, we might have a chance. So Rob got everything rewired, Diana relaid the piping and buried the cables deeper, and I tried to be helpful wherever possible! Those two make it look easy day by day, but the fieldwork Rob and Diana are doing is not easy; it involves a lot of mud, problem solving, power tools, patience,and rain gear to get it all done!

Thursday Oct. 22nd: The camera is working! But no sight of the wolves this morning, so we’re not sure if we successfully defended the cable from them overnight, or if they just weren’t in the mood to try.

Friday Oct. 23rd: Camera is down. In show business they always say never work with kids and dogs, as they upstage you every time, and the wolf pups win yet again. But Rob and Diana now seem determined to bring this chew toy game to its end as quickly as possible and has a solution he thinks will work.

Monday Oct. 28th: The camera has been up for 3 mornings straight and we’ve seen wolves fishing non-stop! I’m currently so worried about jinxing it, that I’m not even gonna say what the solution ended up being, for fear the conniving wolf pups will somehow manage to read this blog and discover the secret! But it works! Hope everyone is watching!  Here is clip of some the highlights!

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From D.C. to B.C. Part III

by Loren Clark-Moe

Hi everyone! October in the Great Bear Rainforest continues to be amazing!

One of the first things I heard about Pacific Wild was their Great Bear LIVE program, and in particular, their camera along a riverbed where we can watch live footage of wolves and their pups feeding on salmon. It’s amazing footage, but this camera has a unique challenge: just like their domesticated distant cousins, wolf pups love finding things to chew on, and they keep finding the cable that runs from the Great Bear LIVE camera to the power supply. The cable can’t hurt the wolf pups, but the wolf pups can definitely cut out the camera feed!

We awoke on Wednesday to find that the pups had once again found the cable, so Rob and I took the boat out to the riverbed to make some repairs. Rob knows everything about cables and wiring, but it’s slightly different when the cable you want to work on has been knawed through in the middle of a river. So, while standing in knee-deep water, I held all the wires out of the water while Rob meticulously wound and sealed them all back together. We checked the systems and the camera was back up, so all we needed now was for the wolves to come visit again!

Loren investigating the cable that connects the remote camera to its' power supply.  It turns out that wolf pups had gnawed right through the cable!

Loren investigating the cable that connects the remote camera to its’ power supply. It turns out that wolf pups had gnawed right through the cable!

On Thursday morning, I heard a happy yell from Diana, announcing that the wolves were back on camera! We spent the morning watching 5 wolves lounging, eating and playing together; I hope you got to see it too! If you haven’t yet, be sure to sign up for Pacific Wild’s Great Bear LIVE Alerts so you’ll know when we’ve caught something on camera. We were all really happy to be able to watch these beautiful animals for such a long time; even Diana’s puppy Clay was excited!

Clay the dog, intently watching a pack of wolf pups on the live camera feed.

Clay the dog, intently watching a pack of wolf pups on the live camera feed.

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