Saturday, February 28, 2009
One of the odder looking species of fish, sculpin are generally small fish, five to twenty centimetres in length, although some species can grow up to 100 centimetres in length. They are bottom feeders with sharp spines rather than scales.
Sculpin can live for several hours out of water if kept moist, and often inhabit tide pools. Be careful if you see one in a tide pool, their spines are very sharp and their sting can be very painful.
Photo by Scott Stevenson. To see more of his work, click here >
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Orcas are the largest member of the dolphin family, easy identified by their large dorsal fins and distinctive black and white pattern.
In British Columbia, there are three subspecies of Orcas: Residents, Transients and Offshore.
There are two populations of resident Orcas in British Columbia; the southern and northern residents. The southern population ranges between Campbell River and Puget Sound. Resident Orcas travel and live together in matrilineal pods. They are
generally very vocal. Each group has distinctive, identifiable calls. They feed primarily on fish, especially Chinook salmon.
Transient Orcas do not have established territories, and they feed primarily on marine mammals, both whales and seals. They travel in silent small groups of two to six animals, so they can successfully hunt their prey. The name “Killer Whale” comes from this type of Orca, which is the only species of whale that kills other whales.
This beautiful image above was taken by Christina Craft. To see more of her work, click here >
Thursday, February 19, 2009
The incredible Ogden Point Breakwater was built between 1914 and 1916 from more than one million tons of rock and ten thousand granite blocks. The granite blocks were quarried on Hardy Island off the coast of British Columbia. These blocks form a series of steps along the outer edge of the breakwater, which provide a variety of habitats at differing water depths.
This, along with the cold, nutrient-rich water that passes through the Strait of Juan de Fuca with every incoming and outgoing tide, helps to support a large variety of marine life including a Bull Kelp forest.
Divers enjoy the breakwater as one of the best dive sites in Canada due to the concentration of marine habitats and organisms along its 800 metre length.
The breakwater is also a popular spot for people walking and enjoying the view.
It is one of my favorite places on the planet and I am proud to have been promoting the Breakwater over the past year with the development of the Ogden Point Enhancement Society web site and the subsequent panels which we have worked so diligently to conceive and produce this past year.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Pacific White-Sided Dolphins can be distinguished from all other B.C. cetaceans by their ability to jump several body lengths above the water. They are very social, travelling in groups of 20 to several hundred, and have even been seen in groups numbering in the thousands.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Tide pools are unique habitats found on rocky areas of the coast. These pools are flooded with water at high tide. The tides bring fresh oxygen and food to the pools twice a day. Between tides, the pools are exposed to the sun, wind and rain, which cause changes in water level, temperature, salinity and oxygen content. On hot summer days, tide pools can completely dry up between tides.
Organisms that live in tide pools must avoid being washed away by tidal waves, keep from drying out in the sunlight of low tide, and avoid being eaten.
Typical inhabitants of tide pools include sea anemones, barnacles, chitons, crabs, isopods, limpets, mussels, starfish, snails, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, and whelks.
All organisms that live in tide pools have adaptations that allow them to survive the fluctuating habitat of the tide pool.
Disturbing a tide pool can be hazardous to the organisms living there. Moving a piece of seaweed can expose organisms to the direct sun, and prying organisms that are held fast to the rocks is almost always fatal to the animal.
This example was taken during our visit to Botanical Beach in Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The bright blue and green swirls that the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) detected off the coast of Vancouver Island, Canada, were made by millions of tiny ocean plants called phytoplankton.
The coastal waters of the Eastern Pacific are productive because wind and ocean currents allow nutrient-rich water from deep in the ocean to rise to the surface. The cold, rising water carries phosphates and nitrates, which act as fertilizer to the phytoplankton that grow in the sunlit waters at the ocean’s surface.
Since phytoplankton are the base of the food chain, areas that support large phytoplankton blooms tend to have large fish populations.
Off the coast of Vancouver Island, phytoplankton blooms tend to happen when winds blow down the coast from the north. The winds push the ocean’s surface water west, out to sea. Deep water rises up to replace the wind-blown surface water, and it carries the nutrients needed to support phytoplankton blooms.
Cool huh ?
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Barnacles are common along the shores of British Columbia, encrusting intertidal rocks, pilings, wharves, ships, animals, and any other hard surface along the coast.
There are approximately twenty-one species of barnacles living on the coasts of British Columbia, of which there are two very different forms. There is the acorn barnacle, which has a hard, grey cone-shaped shell that is attached directly to a solid structure. These barnacles are well-known to anyone who has attempted to cross a rocky beach in bare feet. Acorn barnacles are able to close their shell, which protects them against drying out when the tide recedes.
The other form is the Gooseneck barnacle, whose shell-encased body is located at the end of a flexible stalk, which is attached to rocks or other solid structures. Barnacles play an important role in the marine environment as part of the food web, and empty barnacle shells provide shelter for other intertidal organisms.
Photo by Scott Stevenson. We have more information on Scott's photography on our web site >