After a dozen years as a regular visitor to Mayne Island, I became a fulltime resident. As a boater and scuba diver I was attracted to the rich marine setting and shoreline that invites peaceful, restorative walks, access to nature for recreation and the occasional tasty treat. Shorty after moving here, I joined the Conservancy and later became a Director because I share their vision for sustaining and enriching the natural environment on Mayne Island and the surrounding waters.
The people of the island have a sincere appreciation of the land features, the wandering wildlife, and native and cultivated plants. In addition most are aware of the environmental threats posed by invasive plants and animals. In general we are much less attuned to the marine environments, populated by creatures and plants that are less familiar and usually less visible. The waters around Mayne Island are home to a dazzling variety of marine life; some are large like seals and orca, but most are small and usually out of sight. These plants and animals in the surrounding waters are under constant stress from natural forces that have shaped their evolution over millennia. Now they also have to deal with the increasing threats that arise from pollution and degradation of critical habitat. The environmental problems they face are deadly serious and mostly the result of the human population and their activities along the seashore. We are the most abundant invasive species here.
Volunteering has provided many new learning experiences. After years as a recreational scuba diver I have developed familiarity with a diversity of local aquatic sea life. As a volunteer with shoreline care projects there have been opportunities to extend this into learning about the near shore. Engaging with well-informed naturalists has made it possible to become much better acquainted with the creatures and plants that leave their traces on the sand and along the shore. There is not only a greater awareness of their presence and contribution but also a personal connection that develops when knowing them by name. Through shoreline care events I have been introduced to parts of the island that I had never encountered during the previous decade on the island. There has even developed a deeper appreciation of those parts of the island that had become familiar as a result of frequent visits. An intimacy arises from hands-on experience with the details of a shore when scrambling along on hands and knees searching for and removing plastics and other refuse. Shoreline grooming benefits the volunteer as well as the shoreline.
The seashore and surrounding waters play a significant role in creating the natural setting that makes our island community such a jewel. But as much as the seashore contributes to our quality of life, we have not been as generous to the ocean in return. There are changes happening in and around the margins of the ocean and in order to notice and respond effectively it is essential to continuously monitor the marine environment. As residents and visitors we must be the trustees and conscience for the waters and shoreline around Mayne Island in order to conserve the diversity and beauty for ourselves and for future generations. We can all play a part by becoming better informed about the threats to shoreline health and becoming stewards on behalf of the marine environment. We can also contribute to the conservation and enrichment of the shoreline and surrounding waters by volunteering when possible, or by donating to the shoreline health initiatives of the Mayne Island Conservancy.