Monday, June 29, 2009
A long, narrow island, and the driest in the Gulf Island chain, Galiano Island was named after the Spanish explorer Dionisio Galiano, who sailed these waters in 1792. Galiano Island is the second largest of the Gulf Islands, after Saltspring Island.
We arrived at lunchtime on a Friday and found that Galiano Islanders move at their own easy pace, respecting and protecting a fragile environment which is home to over 130 species of birds and many rare and protected plants.
Rich in history and beauty, Galiano has been called The Jewel of the Strait of Georgia. For thousands of years before Europeans arrived, the Coast Salish aboriginal people had lived here, gathering a rich variety of foods from its forests and shores.
Galiano Island enjoys the reputation as being the most welcoming to visitors of the Gulf Islands and we can easily confirm this claim. This is due in large part to the limited amount of farmland on Galiano in comparison to other islands. Of necessity, early settlers here opened their homes to tourists as a way of earning a living and the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere of the Island was apparent from the moment we landed to the moment we departed.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Marine protected areas are regions of the ocean and its bed that have been set aside to preserve representative and special ecosystems, plant and animal species, or unique features.
There are different types of marine protected areas of either provincial or federal designation including marine conservation areas, marine sanctuaries, marine exclusion zones and marine ecological reserves. They also include formal Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as designated under Canada’s Oceans Act.
The common feature for all types of marine protected areas is that the activities allowed within the protected area boundaries, including access, development and resource extraction, are restricted to some degree for protective purposes. Unlike marine parks and recreation areas, marine protected areas are not created for recreational purposes, and access is often restricted.
To see a larger image of this panel, click here >
Monday, June 15, 2009
Vancouver Island has 3,400 kilometres of rugged coast, much of it unpopulated. Lighthouses and other navigational aids are necessary to guide and keep all vessels, from large ships to small pleasure craft, safe.
In November 1859, Captain Nagle, Victoria’s Harbourmaster paid one hundred dollars for a lantern and placed it on MacLaughlin Point at the entrance to Victoria Harbour. By October 1860, legislation had been passed to begin construction of the Fisgard Island and Race Rock Lighthouses.
The Fisgard and Race Rocks lighthouses were both built in 1860. They were designed to work together to safely guide ships from the Juan de Fuca Strait into Victoria Harbour.
Today, the British Columbia coast has about forty lighthouses, many of them staffed by with light keepers. Four of these lighthouses, and a variety of navigational aids, located in the Greater Victoria area, are featured here.
Check out the panels here >
Sunday, June 14, 2009
A multitude of marine ecosystems together characterize the ocean. The ocean is the largest aquatic system on the planet, covering over seventy percent of the Earth’s surface. The habitats that make up this system range from very productive nearshore and shallow water regions to dark abyssal regions more than 4000 metres below the ocean’s surface.
British Columbia’s Pacific coast is a biologically diverse and productive temperate marine environment. Island archipelagos, deep fjords, shallow mudflats and estuaries, kelp and eelgrass beds, strong tidal currents and massive upwellings all contribute to extra-ordinarily high biodiversity. The abundance of coastal marine life not only contributes to the complexity and total biomass of the marine food web but also provides food for terrestrial animals such as otters, eagles, ospreys, bears, raccoons, mink and humans.
Se a larger versions here >
Tide pools are unique habitats found on rocky areas of the coast. Rocky depressions on the coast are flooded with water at high tide, which brings 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.
To see our work on the recent panel for the Ogden Point Enhancement Society, click here >
Friday, June 5, 2009
This panel focuses on some of the marine life surrounding Vancouver Island with details on their habits.
Killer Whale or Orca (Orcinus orca)
Orcas are the largest member of the dolphin family, and are easily recognized by their large dorsal fin and distinctive black and white pattern.
There are three sub-species of Orcas:
Residents, Transients and Offshore. There are two populations of resident Orcas in British Columbia; the southern and northern residents. The southern population’s range is from Campbell River south to Puget Sound. Resident Orcas travel and live together in matrilineal pods of 4 – 12 whales. They are generally very vocal, with each group has distinctive calls. They feed primarily on fish, especially salmon.
Transient Orcas do not have established territories, and they feed primarily on marine mammals. They travel in silence, small groups of two to six, so they can hunt their prey. The name “Killer Whale” comes from this type of Orca, which is the only species of whale that kills other whales.
Offshore Orcas spend most of their time along the continental shelf west of Vancouver Island, and it is thought that they eat large ocean fish such as shark and halibut.
Also featured on this panel are Stellar Sea Lions, Grey Whales and Humpbacks, which Yim and I have been fortunate enough to be in the water not 100 feet away as they passed us by.
Check put the panel in a larger size here >