Heart of the Coast

Biodiversity and Resilience on the Pacific Edge by Tyee Bridge

Cover of book Heart of the Coast

Author Tyee Bridge has written a comprehensive and informative book which focuses on the rich biodiversity of the Pacific Coast. In Heart of the Coast, Bridge features work done by researchers from the Hakai Institute, which has ecological observatories on Calvert and Quadra Islands in British Columbia. 

The book’s first chapter explains the evolution of the Pacific Coast throughout the ice ages. Human occupation of the coast has been investigated through Hakai’s Ancient Landscape Archaeological digs on Calvert Island. Rare finds were discovered, including sets of ancient footprints and a large cache of stone tools. Photographs of the excavations are fascinating evidence that people were occupying the coast 13,000 years ago.  

When I am on the ocean in a canoe or kayak, I love to peer over the edge into the clear water. I have seen sea urchins, crabs, fish, seals, otters, sea grass, bull kelp, and sea stars. Heart of the Coast has deepened my knowledge of the ocean creatures and seaweed I observe. Bridge covers topics such as kelp forests; sea stars and disease; seagrass and food webs. There is an interesting chapter devoted to the relationship between sea otters, urchin and kelp. (I was surprised to read that there are zombie urchins which are still able to grow where there is very low food supply!)

Information about the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems is included in several chapters. A phenomenon called the “Blob” (a marine heat wave–a stagnant low-nutrient mass of water) is examined in detail.  In 2014 the Blob spread along the Pacific Coast, causing toxic algal blooms, altered spawning behaviour in fish, mass strandings and starvation of marine mammals and seabirds, and an outbreak of sea star wasting disease. 

Bridge’s use of scientific data, interviews, photographs, diagrams and maps, give outdoor enthusiasts and armchair travellers a greater understanding of the incredible biodiversity and resilience of the beautiful Pacific Coast.

Categories: Book Reviews

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