Archive for category SEAS Community Initiative
What can I say about the last week out at Kvai? Well first of all, we were supposed to go up the river to check out the bear snares… but the river was too shallow and we couldn’t make it, which was heartbreaking kinda. We did see a juvenile bear not too long after though, so it was all good. We watched it for 15 to 20 minutes walking on the beach… eating grass, doing bear stuff. Was pretty awesome!
Tuesday, we went to Namu which was okay. We only tagged 22, but the second day out there was pretty crazy, 63 FISH!!!… In one set, not even joking! It was pretty epic, it took us all morning to finish. Then we watched Gene jump off the dock into the water… twice in a row, haha now THAT was epic!
Another crazy-awesome summer with SEAS.
One day we were supposed to go up river and talk about bear snares but the tide was too low and we couldn’t make it up river so we ended up just spotting a grizzly and just bear watching for about 20 minutes or so. Then all of the sudden this helicopter came out of nowhere and scared the bear, it ran into the woods. About five minutes later it came back out to the same spot and it slowly walked the beach going up river. That was pretty sweet. Closest I’ve been to a bear in a long time.
Another day we went to Namu to do some seining. Only had to do one set and we had the biggest set we ever got! We tagged sixty-three sockeye and coho. And we must have caught about 75 or 80 easy. One point I was in the water watching the net and I saw a lot of fish getting out because the lead line was being dragged over rocks and they’d slip under. After that we kind of just had a fun afternoon. We went swimming around and snorkeling, we were jumping off the floats at Namu and we have a couple funny videos of the crew jumping in.
On Friday we went out with Davie, Richard, and Carey from HIRMD to set up a new hydrophone station. When we got out there we met up with Max and Rob from Pacific Wild and Matt (a diver). We started off getting sacks of gravel to put over the hose in the intertidal rocks to weigh it down. We also started lowering the hydrophone cable inside the hose wrapped in lead line into the water from the boat. Matt was in the water and told us where to lower the lead line so it would lie along the ocean floor properly. Afterwards we lifted the anchor with the hydrophone on it onto a board in the speedboat and tipped it into the water. It was tied to two buoys so it didn’t fall in the water too fast. Then we got to look at the setup of the box where the solar panel charges the battery. It was a pretty good trip to help set up. I’d like to use this hydrophone to hear the pod of killer whales we saw in the area last year by the Gosling Rocks. That would be pretty cool.
We tagged 15 fish in Namu this week. The water was both cold and warm depending on where we were. We went up to the river and I fell in when I was trying to get in slowly. It was very very cold at the bottom. I snorkeled for a couple minutes before we left, but I didn’t see any fish though, just rocks. It was my first time snorkeling this summer. I liked it. It reminded me of when I was a kid. I’m excited to go back to Namu next week. Hopefully we’ll get more fish so we can get to our goal of tagging 200 sockeye.
On Thursday we started at 9am going up the river. We had to paddle up for a bit, but the tide was going down so we had to drag the canoes for a bit because the water was too low to paddle. We all met where the trail begins, and we started walking the trail. After awhile we had to walk on the river bank because the river was full of rapids. When we got near the stream we were going to set g-traps in, we got to snorkel in the river. It was the highlight of the day. I saw lots of fish that were between 9 and 11 inches long and a whole bunch of fry and parr. I was wearing jeans and it felt like a weight belt. We stayed back up there for 2 hours while the traps soaked. When we headed down, we snorkeled and floated down the rapids. We got a little beaten up on the rocks, but it was worth it. It was a day worth remembering.
This was the last week of Kvai camp for the kids this summer. It was a busy week, I’m sad that the kids won’t be around for another two weeks. Friday was feast day; 82 people came out here from the villge. It was amazing. The kids were practicing all week to show the community members what they learn while they’re out here and the kids have learned a lot.
After the first part of the ceremonies was performed, some people stood up and made speeches; one of the elders from Bella Bella got up and spoke in Heiltsuk to William Housty. Her whole speech was in Heiltsuk. It was pretty amazing to hear because I haven’t heard anyone speak of lot of Heiltsuk like that in a long time. Hearing her talk inspired me to learn my Heiltsuk language. I want to be able to fluently speak it. In the next couple years I want to take the time to learn.
From the intern crew
During this week we went to Namu twice to do seining. We caught 82 fish in total during the two days. We caught fish in every set this week, something that has never happened before. Blake tagged her first fish and so did Gene.This week the water was the coldest it has ever been since it was raining the first day. The tide came up much higher than usual and everyone got soaked that first day, even the people in waders. While we were waiting for the fish to jump so we could close the net, Blake found an old spear head below the old restaurant. It’s hard to believe she could find something like that on the beach.
As our second day progressed we were sitting there, waiting for the seine net to soak searching for hermit crabs and more arrow heads. As we did that, we saw several jumping fish in the bay so we tried to close the net. We started to get pulled out in the high tide so Louis took off his waders and jumped in, screaming in pain from the cold water. The weather on the second day was super nice, so after we were done with our tagging we hung out in the bay with our snorkels for a little while hanging out and laughing with friends.
Check out this video that Gene created during the fourth week of the internship program:
Here are a few notes and a photo slideshow from this past week.
Well my week went something like this: it was busy, fun and awesome. Day 2 was busy. We went to set some g-traps up river two times in two places. We actually caught a lot of fish this time: Chinook and coho fry. Then as we were coming back to camp we saw a bear. That day was pretty awesome. And the last day of the week is always fun watching the kids from camp dance in the big house.
Wednesday was the day we went to Namu. We left early in the morning at about 9:00am. I thought it wouldn’t be much fun to catch and tag fish, but I thought wrong. On the first set we caught two fish, which was exciting at the time. As soon as they were tagged, we let them go. It was also a fun experience trying to catch fish in a seine net. Everybody would be in hip waders or shorts in the water pulling in the net. Some things were challenging, but after one or two sets I got the hang of things. I liked that we went to Namu to do the tagging because it was fascinating but also eerie to see all the old buildings there; some collapsed in, some half intact. Overall, it was hard work but enjoyable. I am looking forward to the coming weeks of working at Koeye and surrounding areas.
Richard’s Slideshow on the Tagging Process
On Thursday the 19th we went to do Dolly Varden stomach content research for Will. We caught a whole bunch of Dolly Varden. As soon as we got there Louis and I tried to cast. Within a minute we both lost our hooks. We had to hike back to the big house and Louis ran back to the lodge to get more buzz bombs. Then we had to hike all the way back to the kids camp. We got the hooks all set up on the fishing rods and Louis and I cast off again. Louis caught a fish but the line snapped off and he lost the fish when it was within five feet of him. Louis was trying to chase the fish and he did an epic roar. We caught ten fish that day and eight of them had stomach samples to collect. After that we went up river to see if there was a stream to survey in the future. We were checking it out to see if it was surveyable. On the way back to the lodge we were going down the river and we saw a grizzly bear just past the grass flats. We were roughly 25 feet away from it.
For the second week of the program, the interns performed more stream assessments (including trapping for juvenile salmon) and crab surveys in Koeye. They also collected data for a Dolly Varden stomach content analysis study and traveled to Namu to seine and tag sockeye salmon. Here’s what the interns have to say about the week:
During the tagging project it was my first time snorkeling other than in my tub when I was a little kid. I thought the wet suit was cool. I never wore one of those before, but it was really hard to get on and off. It was my workout of the day trying to put it on and off. While we were snorkeling it was cool to actually see some sockeye. I saw a lot of little juveniles and shiners and herring in Namu too. It was pretty cool when we caught all those fish on Thursday. We caught and tagged over 20 sockeye. I’d never witnessed fish being tagged before.
The stream survey in Cold Creek was really fun. Me, Louis and William were walking up the stream. We caught fish that day too in the g-traps. It was cool because it was like a regular stream walk until we got to the waterfall. It was epic. It looked like it went 50 feet up with a sheer drop off. At the base of the waterfall there was a pool that led to the main creek. It was super jagged and everything on the rocks. It was pretty cool. We sat at the waterfall for a half an hour watching the water fall. Then William looked up and saw massive trees. They were huge, prehistoric trees. Then we picked up the g-traps. There were 3 coho in the first trap that we set closest to the ocean. Then we went to Namu afterwards to go seining with the rest of the group. That was pretty cool. I saw tagged fish as we were coming into Namu that Will had just tagged.
Alright, unfortunately I kinda missed the first day and a half but everyone told me that on Monday night there was like a tropical storm and there was gale force winds with FIFTY FOOT SWELLS, and they called it… Hurricane LOUIS! hahahaha naw, I’m just yanking your chain, but all ridiculous lies aside, it was another fun, sun filled week at Kvai. Seriously, sooooo much sun it was awesome! The way I’ve tanned it looks like I’ve been out there for MONTHS!… and it’s only week 2. We even got to sedate Dolly Varden… never seen a drugged fish before. We used some stuff called “clove oil” and pumped their stomachs to see what they eat. We did more crab surveys and stream assessments which was alright. As a matter of fact me, Gene and House did a stream assessment at Cold Creek and I’ve gotta say, they don’t call it “Cold Creek” for nothing! I almost fell in, it wasn’t cool, but Gene did so that made me feel better. We got about 250/300 meters in and couldn’t get any further because we were stopped by a HUGE waterfall… alright it wasn’t “HUGE” but at least 25 feet. It was still pretty wicked!
Alright, that’s all for now. Stay tuned next week for another episode OF “Louis annnd… pals”… kay I haven’t really thought of a good name for it but I will, NEXT TIME!
I enjoyed the seining on Thursday. The dry suit helped out a lot instead of using the waders. We had people holding two lines on shore and one line tied to the boat still. The boat took the net out into the middle of the river and formed a “C”. The first set we went into the mouth of the river. When we were pulling it in to shore the lead line snagged up and Will had to keep going along the net and pulling it up off of the rocks. We didn’t catch any fish. We piled up back up in the boat and set it on the opposite shore. I floated all the way down the river to the new site. After the whole net was out, the boat dragged it to the shore and we had to close it like a basket. Will was screaming around about the fish we caught. We slowly started picking the sockeye out one by one and started tagging them.
Week 2 was awesome. The kids at Koeye camp got to watch and learn from us how to set the crab traps and how to fill out the crab survey sheets. It’s always fun to teach kids the work we do. Later in the week I got to watch Will tag fish. I also got to see what Dolly Varden eat which is gross but cool! I hope to learn more as I go.
My name is Jenna Starr. This was the first week of work at Koeye. It was an amazing week of work and teamwork out in the wildlife. My favorite things we did were the crab surveys, but not getting pinched by them. It was a great experience hiking to places I’d never been and getting to see devil’s club during the stream surveys. Hopefully next week we’ll see more animals.
I enjoyed using the waders to set the g-traps and do the stream assessments. The water was up to my waist but I stayed nice and dry. I didn’t fall in the water like Louis. I enjoyed setting the crab traps and measuring them, seeing if they were injured or regenerating their legs or claws. I can’t wait to do the snorkeling and do more seining. I quite enjoyed my first week. I can’t wait for the next weeks to come.
Week one… hmmmm, what can I say about week one? Well generally it felt like a good familiar experience, other than you know… the generator firing up at six in the morning or big tractors roaming through the camp site but it was all good. Apart from all noisy contraptions it was water crashing on the beach, birds you don’t normally hear at home, the crackling of a hot fire. We had to do a couple of different things this year like the crab survey and stream assessments and seining, so I’m really looking forward to this summer. Smurff yeah!
My name is Gene Larsen. The first week of the internship was a good week because I learned a lot of stuff. I learned a lot of things I probably wouldn’t have learned back in Bella Bella. One of my favorite things about working out in Koeye is the sandy beaches. The stream surveys are pretty awesome and so was learning how to set the g-traps. We need better bait though. It was my first time sleeping in a tent. It’s different, but it’s better than sleeping out in the open. I dislike that there’s no shower out here and I don’t like the bugs, but those are the only things I don’t like about Koeye. Other than that it’s nice! Hopefully the other weeks are like this. It’s awesome and I’m having lots of fun with friends.
This was an awesome experience. I’m looking forward to the next seven weeks. I liked the hip waders. I’d never used them before. I’m having fun out here with good company. It’s so fun it doesn’t feel like work. It’s nice to be away from home, but at the end of the week it’s nice to go back home and see family and friends. I never went crab fishing before or been away Koeye much before. It’s all good, I wish we caught some more fish though.
We’ve just completed the first week of the 2012 SEAS (Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards) Community Initiative Conservation Internship program. Qqs Projects Society and Pacific Wild are collaborating to host an 8-week long program to give six youth from Bella Bella hands-on experience in ecology and natural resource management. The interns are working alongside Qqs Projects Society’s Coastwatch field crew and researchers from Simon Fraser University to perform stream and juvenile salmonid assessments, conduct crab surveys, and carry out other research projects in the Koeye watershed. The crew will be posting updates about their experiences as they return to Bella Bella each weekend.
The following posts have been compiled by youth from the lower mainland and Hartley Bay who joined forces to voyage by canoe form Hartley Bay to Kiel and back. Read of their adventure below
In Hartley Bay
We traveled for two long days with “Emma” our veggie oil bus. Each day took us about 12 hours, from Vancouver to Prince George and from Prince George to Prince Rupert. In PG we stayed with a wonderful family, thinking that we would camp in their backyard, they actually took us into their home as a result of a rain storm that had passed not too long before we arrived. The next day we traveled through dry valleys towards the west until we met the lush forests and mountain peaks of the coast. Camping in Prince Rupert was fun and we got to feel like we were finally getting ready for the wild… sort of. A cold mist woke us up early in the morning as we experienced a different climate than what we had been experiencing in the lower mainland.
Arriving Hartley Bay was a beautiful experience for all of us. We had a warm welcome from the community and we ate delicious freshly-caught salmon in different forms: baked and boiled. On our second night we got to try gyoos (herring spawn on kelp) which we found was very noisy when we chewed.
Getting out on the canoe for the first day was really exciting! Finally, we were on the water, doing what we’d been talking about doing for so long. Carrying the canoe down to the water was also an adventure, our muscles were already sore and we hadn’t even started paddling! We got it done safely though, and once on the water we were going fast. For some of the Hartley Bay students it was their first time on the canoe and it was great to see the smiles all around.
~Creating community and sharing together, two cultures learning about each other and acting for something that they both deeply cherish~
We Paddled to Kiel
On June 7th we did our big push, an 8 hour day on the waters of the Great Bear Rainforest in Gitga’at territory. We paddled a portion of the proposed tanker route for the Northern Gateway Pipeline project. We went from Hartley Bay, through Wright Sound where the ferry Queen of the North sank in 2006. Then down Lewis Pass to Squally Channel. On our way over to Kiel the group that was paddling had to use all of the energy that they had left to battle some stronger winds and bigger waves… but with some cheering and lots of support from our support vessels, they made it to Kiel.
On our second day in Kiel we paddled to Cetacea Lab, on Gil Island, and we learned about the steady increase of whale populations and how the proposed supertankers could affect them. It was special for me to learn that some of the students from Hartley Bay had known Hermann and Janie (the two whale researchers) their whole lives, but had not yet had the opportunity to visit Cetacea Lab to learn about what they do there. I was happy that the GBR Youth Paddle could contribute to making that experience happen for them.
Kiel is a magical place, after we left Cetacea Lab, one of our support boat operators caught the largest salmon of the season! That night he shared it with the whole camp. One of the best salmon dinners I’ve ever had, a freshly-caught salmon 38 pounder!
Giving and Gratitude
While we were up in Kiel, we spent all of our days with amazing friends who were keen to accept us into their community and share their lives with us through games, food, and stories. I was grateful for the kindness I received from the Gitga’at First Nations, which reminded me of how simple things in life are meaningful… There were our nights by the bon fire, the sound of the waves sweeping the shores of Kiel, and the casual greetings from Cameron Hill’s students that made me feel like we had all been friends for a long time… The abundance of nature in Hartley Bay surrounded by rivers and mountains, the orcas and porpoises that greeted us on our canoe journey made us feel connected to where we all came from- mother Earth. I think that these two reasons are what makes Hartley Bay so special and ultimately brings people together.
My time in Hartley Bay has taught me that maintaining a sustainable livelihood with nature comes from within. With an intimate relationship with people in Kiel and Hartley, the whole community is one big family. The respect and openness that the Gitga’at people have for their families, friends and natural surrounding is the essence that is worth sharing. This personal connection to the place has inspired me in moving forward to value things intrinsically and to learn more about how to combat the threatening and short-sighted path of the crude oil industry.
On the beach of Kiel the night’s darkness has set in and the only light comes from the fire, the starry sky and the phosphorescence in the ocean. The silence is only broken by wolves in the distance and us relaxing and enjoying each other’s company after a full day of paddling from Hartley Bay to Kiel. We started the journey just as we finished it; both the paddle leaving Hartley Bay and coming into Kiel were strong as everyone paddled with a sense of determination and purpose. This day of paddling brought us a little bit of everything: waves, wind, rain, sun, calm waters, whales, and sea lions. It also gave us an appreciation for this rich, pristine, delicate, intricate, and breathtaking coast.
Seeing this area by canoe is a unique experience, especially when shared with the Gitga’at First Nations youth. This is a special group of young people, who are exceptionally kind, motivated, passionate, and eager to share their culture, community, and knowledge of the area with us.
I have always loved the coast of BC and spending time in the Great Bear Rainforest has only made this love stronger. I now more than ever feel inspired and obligated to continue saying no to oil on this coast. Tankers in this area would destroy the coastal environment and ruin the way of life for everyone that calls the Great Bear Rainforest home, be that the spirit bear, humpback whale, or the Gitga’at First Nations.
Stand up for what you and so many other people love. Together we will keep oil off of this coast!
We Journey On
Our departure day from Hartley Bay was very emotional for me. I cried. However, the tears that streamed down my face were from overwhelming happiness. The time that I was able to spend with the Gitga’at people in both Hartley Bay and Kiel was filled with an abundance of richness that is difficult to put into words. As I reflected on the moments that transpired within the week I became friends with many of the youth in the community, I felt my eyes beginning to water. When it came my turn to talk in front of the youth, as well as the group I came with, I began crying. The words I spoke were truly from the heart. I was crying because I didn’t want to leave all the friends I had just made. I was crying because I didn’t want to leave the majestic scenery and environment that had surrounded me the past 11 days. Most importantly, I was crying because I was truly happy. Going to Hartley Bay has opened my eyes to all the amazing people in our world and the important work that they do. People like Cam Hill, people like Helen Clifton, and people like Marven. These are the ones who fight for the things in our world that need to be stood up for, like the environment and community that they care dearly for. Their efforts may not be broadcast outside their community, but they are the ones changing our world for the better. Hearing them speak throughout the week always made me frustrated because they often spoke of the lack of understanding people have for their cultural values. However, it also made me happy because they are optimistic and still hold out hope that the correct decision will be made regarding the supertankers. The richness that has filled me from joining the community for 8 days is an experience I will never forget. The tears I cried that day are ones of joy. They will help me to return to the magical place in the near future, a future that will always be too far away.
A post by Max Bakken
In late March and early April, millions of herring travel inshore from the Pacific to spawn. Herring roe is highly sought after by coastal First Nations. It is an important part of their cuisine and culture, and brings a frenzy of activity and food after the winter months. There are many ways to collect the roe – herring spawn on kelp, other seaweed, and hemlock trees that have been placed in the intertidal zone.
This season, I was lucky enough to get out on the water with some members of the Heiltsuk First Nation on a field trip to the herring grounds. Jordan, a hunter, fisherman, and food gatherer, came along to teach some grade 4 students about the herring spawn. Jordan is extremely knowledgeable about his territory and plays an essential role in the community providing food from the land and sea for his family and Elders. Our first stop was on a beach to have a look at some hemlock trees. Jordan darted into the forest and after some quick snaps came out with an armload of hemlock branches. The ones he had selected were flat in plane, not bushy. He explained that the herring like to spawn on a flat surface, which is why he had selected these branches, but also that it is easier to pick the roe off of the flatter branches. After you find the right branches, you have to strategically hang them in the water where the herring are likely to spawn. The students understood all of this and each took a sprig of hemlock.
We weren’t going to set any branches that day, so we moved on to a rocky area just offshore of another island. Just below the surface was a kelp forest, slowly waving in the current. You couldn’t see the kelp until you were right on top of it. Jordan winked, “secret spot”. He pulled a strand out of the water and showed us which pieces of kelp worked best to attract herring. The students all shrieked as it came out of the water as it looked like a long snake with long flat leathery wings. Jordan showed us that the medium length pieces, about a hand width wide, with no holes, and of course, nice and flat were best. Ideally, you hang this kelp from a rope with floats, and the herring come along and spawn on both sides. What you get almost looks like an inside out piece of sushi, about a half an inch of herring eggs on either side of a piece of seaweed. Chopped up into small squares it collects a high price in Japanese restaurants. Eating the kelp on its own is just fine too, and everyone tried a piece. It was salty, and tasted like seaweed! Yum.
Many Heiltsuk, I learned, prefer the taste of roe on hemlock. While you will find roe on kelp at some feasts, hemlock takes the cake. The roe takes on the flavour of whatever it is laid on. While you might not think of using hemlock needles in a soup or with a turkey, the flavour is a bit like rosemary and complements the roe nicely. Because of this, the commercial spawn fishery is exclusively spawn on kelp, and the Heiltsuk save the hemlock for themselves.
After a half an hour ride up another inlet, we found a fallen cedar whose branches were covered in spawn. Jordan said that the Heiltsuk may have used cedar in the past for roe harvesting, but that these days no one does it. Anthony, one of the grade 4′s, was looking at it like it was a new flavour of ice cream. Hands in the water he had a loaded branch in no time. Soon everyone on the boat was munching away, putting in their two cents about the cedar flavour. Almost everyone gave it a thumbs up, and Joe, the students’ teacher, had packed away what looked like a healthy month’s supply into his bag.
At the end of the day we had a bunch of happy kids who had more herring roe in their bellies and their minds than they did at the start. As they walked up the dock each with a sprig of cedar heavy with roe in their hands, I realized how important a food can be to a culture. The passing of traditional knowledge I had just taken part in has been happening for many millennia. The herring spawn is a huge event – it symbolizes the Heiltsuk new year. The enthusiasm of the students wasn’t just due to childish excitement, it was an enthusiasm shared with thousands of generations past about harvesting food, the coming of a new year, and the great bounty of the herring spawn.
A cedar bough laden with herring eggs. Photo by Max Bakken.