Did you know the Ocean’s Day Intertidal Exploration has been running since 1995? Begun by Michael Dunn and the Mayne Island Naturalists, this annual event has seen a variety of different incarnations, at a variety of different beaches around the island. Held on, or close to, Ocean’s Day or World Environment Day, the event often centres around the laying out of a seine net and aquarium displays of creatures gathered in the net. Sometimes there are divers collecting specimens, sometimes there are focussed beach explorations, sometimes there are nudibranchs, sometimes there are not – always it is fun!
The 2023 Ocean’s Day Intertidal Exploration was held on Saturday, June 17th in ALELEN/Miners Bay and was a successful and learning-rich day! Conservancy staff Alistair and Justine were joined by marine experts and nature educators, Kelly Nordin and Dave Hutchinson, who interpreted the organisms in the aquarium and answered any questions that came their way.
The day began at 9:00am with the setup of the tents and the laying of the seine net in the water. Big thanks to Irene and Nigel Barrett who helped with these tasks. Nigel braved the icy water temperatures and the ferry waves and he and Justine had the net laid out in the water by 10am. In the meantime, informational materials were set up, brightly coloured flags were placed along the trail to the beach, and aquariums were prepared.
At 11am, participants began to arrive and it was time to bring in the net. Alistair, Dave, Justine and volunteer Trygve Finley brought in the net and helped collect specimens into buckets, which were transported to the aquariums, to the delight of the children who gathered around to help! There were large sculpins, gunnels, Dungeness crabs, shiner perch, a pipefish, flat fish, and many more incredible creatures to observe. The eelgrass bed in ALELEN/Miners Bay is home to many species of fish and crustaceans, and is an important habitat in the Salish Sea ecosystem. You can learn more about eelgrass beds, the threats facing them, and their subsequent decline, in this article here.
Throughout the next two hours, the aquariums were kept healthy with the use of ice packs and fresh – cycled water. It’s important to refresh the water to keep the animals healthy, because the water can become too warm and oxygen levels can become depleted.
Beach explorers brought in intertidal creatures such as starfish, isopods and hermit crabs from underneath rocks (rocks were carefully replaced in their original positions afterwards, to ensure the health of the creatures who inhabit those spaces).
At 1pm, all the animals were carefully returned to the places where they were found, with creatures caught in the seine net returned to the water, the starfish replaced in rocky crevices, and crabs released into the nearshore environment.
A big thank you to everyone who joined us on for this event! And of course, a huge thank you to volunteers Kelly, Dave, Irene, Nigel, Robin (thanks for the flags!) and Trygve.