Salt Spring Shorelnie Natural History Walk with Naturalist, David Denning

Salt Spring Shoreline Natural History Walk with Naturalist, David Denning

11:00 am to 1:00 pm, Sunday, May 5, 2019 start at beach

you will need to be in line up by 9:30 am  for 10:10 am ferry from Crofton,  this requires leaving Ramada Hotel at 8:45 to allow plenty of time, map to beach will be provided, maps to Cowichan Valley including Crofton will be at registration table.

This natural history walk on Baker Beach, Salt Spring Island, will look at a mixed rocky reef/ mud pocket beach with boulders adjacent to the tidal outflow beach for Booth Canal. This beach is important as a feeding resource for great blue herons and eagles this time of year (we may be a bit early). We will also look at the natural history of intertidal animals we find, and explore some of the unusual adaptations here that allow marine animals to survive.

Footwear suitable for rocky beach terrain is suggested. Rubber boots are very useful to explore all habitats, and I use them myself, but if you don’t have them or can’t wear them, then a sturdy runner or boot that you don’t mind getting dirty or slightly wet will do. The terrain is generally flat, but uneven with boulders and pebbles. Where it is slippery, I ask people to hold a partner or two for stability. A  walking stick can be helpful. We will probably only walk a hundred or two hundred meters in this environment.

Suggested to bring a lunch or snack and water if you need it. We will end around 1:00 pm, so you could drive into Ganges village for lunch then if you want.

Restoration for Resiliance

Restoration for Resilience


World renowned restoration specialist and Cowichan Valley Naturalist member, David Polster will present ideas for restoring ecosystems that will foster resilience in the face of climate change.  Pioneering species that have evolved over millions of years to initiate the process of natural ecosystem recovery can be used for the restoration of sites humans have disturbed.  As these species tend to have broad ecological tolerances, they can build ecosystems that are well adapted to changing climates and the uncertain weather conditions that go with these climates.

Exploring the night sky!

Naturalists like to share their knowledge of natural systems and help to connect their listeners to the world around them; often by sharing engaging detailed facts about specific natural plants, animals or systems. Have you every wondered about the big picture though? The REALLY BIG PICTURE!  Nature Educator and amateur astronomer Bryon Thompson will show you the amazingly huge picture that we are all a part of as he takes us on a tour of the night sky and connects our own backyard to the entire Universe. Come take a ride back in time to a place of amazement and discover yourself there! The presentation will happen regardless but Telescope viewing will take place as well … Weather permitting.

Garry Oak Ecosystems: Ecology, Culture, and Conservation


Garry Oak Ecosystems are the rarest ecosystems in Canada.  The Cowichan Valley has a large percentage of what remains.  These unique ecosystems have evolved with First Nations for thousands of years and the harvest of Camas.  The care of these ecosystems by First Nations, particularly in lowland deep soiled areas has assisted in allowing  a diversity of species to occur.  Garry Oak ecosystems have a very high number of rare plant species.  There are two main types of Garry Oak ecosystems, dry rocky shallow soil sites and deep soil sites.  The deep soil sites in the valley bottoms were taken from the First Nations stewards and exploited for agriculture and urban developments.  The shallow soil sites remain in more pristine condition.  This talk will introduce Garry Oak ecosystems and present some of the outstanding features of these wonderful ecosystems.

Freshwater mussels in B.C. – An index of the health of fish populations

Freshwater mussels in B.C. – An index of the health of fish populations.

Rick Harbo, Research Associate, Natural History, Royal BC Museum

In British Columbia, there are 5 to 7 known species of freshwater mussels. The Western Pearlshell Margaritifera falcata is the most common and abundant “mussel” (>300/ m2) in rivers and streams. On Vancouver Island, the Winged Floater, Anodonta nuttalliana, is found in streams and lakes. The Rocky Mountain Ridged mussel, Gonidea angulata, found in Okanagan Lake and other lakes, was recommended for endangered status (COSEWIC 2010).

These bivalves are important filters in watercourses and are an index of the health of fish populations. The mussels are dependent on freshwater fishes, including salmon and trout, as part of their fascinating life-cycle. The mussels are a food source to a variety of birds, river otters, raccoons and other creatures. They are not considered safe to eat by humans. Often long-lived, the mussels may be important in monitoring toxins.

Among the many threats to freshwater mussels are declines in fish populations, lakeshore construction, invasive aquatic macrophytes, and invasive fishes.

Distribution data and repeated surveys are needed to provide a better understanding of the basic biology  and species status in British Columbia.


Rick Harbo (Nanaimo) – Bio

Rick grew up in Saltair, Vancouver Island, working at marinas, docks, oyster leases and as a deckhand on towboats.

After 36 years with the department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as a chemist, habitat protection biologist, and fishery manager, Rick retired and resides in Nanaimo. His efforts are now directed towards writing, photography and “citizen science”.  Rick currently volunteers as a Research Associate, in Invertebrate Zoology, at the Royal BC Museum.  He contributes and identifies marine species for the Canadian Barcode of Life program (CBOL).

Author of numerous publications including Tidepool and Reef (1980), Whelks to Whales (Received B.C. 2000 Book Award; 2nd Edition 2011), Shells and Shellfish of the Pacific Northwest (1997), and Pacific Reef and Shore (2nd Edition 2017). Rick has contributed underwater and topside images to numerous biology textbooks published in North America, South America, Europe and Asia.

Rick contributed a chapter and photographers for the book The Sea Among Us. The Amazing Strait of Georgia. Harbour Publishing (2014).


Bring Back the Bluebirds Project

The Cowichan Valley Naturalists’ Society Bring Back the Bluebirds Project is an exciting project which for the first five years was under the direction of Garry Oak Ecosystem Recovery Team. This is the third year that CVNS has been the lead of the Project. Hannah Hall, Project coordinator, will share with us the story of this iconic bird returning to Vancouver Island.

Citizen Science: It’s About Time!!

About the speaker:

David Denning is a naturalist, science educator, and retired filmmaker/photographer who is a bit crazy about intertidal life, ecology and evolution. His photography work spans about 40 years, and his images have been used in dozens of publications including Islands At The Edge, a key conservation book for Gwaii Haanas National Park. He is author of numerous curriculum materials including Grizzly Bear Biology, The Ocean News, Ocean Sustainability Education, and the Stewards In Training Nature Calendar. He has the dubious distinction of being one of the few ‘experts’ on the obscure phylum, Bryozoa, and has written the key to Pacific Northwest species. Denning’s film/video work includes microscope and macro footage for CBC Nature of Things, Discovery Channel, National Film Board, and the Smithsonian Museum. He has written, filmed, edited and co-produced over 30 films for biology education including the NFB film, The Intertidal Zone and BioMEDIA’s, The Biology Of Seashores. David is an enthusiastic member of the Salt Spring Community Energy Group, and is active with the Salt Spring Trail and Nature Club, Transition Salt Spring, the Salt Spring Climate Action Group and the Salt Spring Ocean Stewards. In 2014 he was awarded the Islands Trust Stewardship Award. David and wife, Deborah Miller, enjoy an exciting nature- filled life on Salt Spring’s Booth Canal.

On the Persistence of Cyanobacteria in Lakes in BC

In my talk I will be discussing the issue of persistent blue-green algae blooms in the lakes of Southwestern British Columbia. Quamichan and Somenos Lakes will be used as models to illustrate the pathology of systems that have become dominated by blue-green algae.  I will describe how historic and current land management has combined with anthropogenic phosphorus to create persistent blue-green algae blooms in urban and rural lakes across southwest BC and, indeed, much of the industrialised world. I will describe monitoring and research that is being done in the Cowichan Valley and Victoria area to understand the issue and the management options that are available for controlling blue-green algae in our lakes.

Tracking Juvenile Cowichan River Chinook

Tracking juvenile Cowichan River Chinook”

In this talk, Kevin Pellett from Fisheries and Oceans Canada will present results from a five-year juvenile Chinook tagging project.   Over 65,000 PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder or RFID) tags were deployed in fresh and salt water habitats to gain insights into survival.   Many interactions with other wildlife species were discovered along the way which has increased our understanding of how this species interacts with its environment.

Quw’utsun Plants and Technology

Philomena and Peter Williams are Cowichan Tribe Elders and are well known in the Cowichan Valley for their wide traditional and current knowledge and gentle way of sharing this. Philomena was an Elder in Residence at Vancouver Island University and also worked for Parks Canada teaching about rare species. Peter is a retired logger and has a lifetime of fishing in the Quw’utsun. Tim Kulchyski, is a Cowichan Tribes Biologist, working particularly in fisheries. Tim, grandson of famed carver Simon Charlie, has a wide ranging knowledge of the watershed issues and is a famed story teller. Genevieve Singleton, is keen on ethnobotany. The team of Philomena, Peter, Tim and Genevieve like presenting talks on the plants of Quw’utsun. We will share photos, some samples of plants, and our knowledge and stories of our friends, plants.