Archive for category SEAS Community Initiative

Sails, Stewards, and Sunshine

by Diana Chan

Last week Tavish Campbell, Max Bakken, and I were joined by six SEAS (Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards) interns from Bella Bella, Klemtu, and Hartley Bay for our inaugural sail training program.  During our five days aboard SV Habitat, we covered a lot of ground…and ocean.

As we sailed around the rugged outer coast of the Great Bear Rainforest, we combined classroom-style learning with hands-on experience focusing on topics like sail theory, knots, chartwork, anchoring, and tides. Each day we made sure to get ashore to stretch our legs and also do some exploring by foot. We hiked through the forest and found CMTs, tromped along streams and saw the first of the salmon returning, and beach combed until we found coveted glass ball floats. Throw in some aerial photography by kite flying, man overboard rescue drills, and plentiful huckleberry picking and we had ourselves a full week!

The lessons that we taught and the practical skills that the interns learned were only part of the experience.  As we watched them grow more confident on the water, taking on more and more responsibilities in running the vessel, we also watched them teach one another and develop friendships.  Cole and Chantal from Klemtu described their recent experience traveling to Kitamat to probe the Enbridge representative there on the issues.  Linden and Dominic from Hartley Bay and Gene and Greg from Bella Bella exchanged information on the marine acoustics research that they have participated in in their respective communities. The interns shared stories and traditional knowledge of their territories, and an eagerness to learn more.

Someday soon these six young men and women will undoubtedly be leaders in their coastal communities. Perhaps some of them will even work together as they manage their precious resources.  They can look back and remember the first time that they came together, took the helm, and explored the pristine waters of the Great Bear Sea.

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Gearing up for the Summer

The beauty and eeriness of the other-worldly symphony stop everyone in their tracks as the sounds of various pods from A and G clans fill the float lab. The increasingly familiar orca whistles and squeals are building a following as more people follow our Twitter and Facebook feeds and tune in to our local station 92.3FM, or through our website. This crystal clear audio is especially gratifying after a winter of huddling over laptops in torrential rains or climbing relay station towers in storm conditions troubleshooting testy equipment.

Now that we have our system design dialed, we’re preparing to install two new hydrophone stations, one on the extreme outer coast and one down towards Hakai Pass, to expand our efforts to monitor marine mammals and shipping noise.  We’ll also be setting up a high-definition remote camera at one of the hydrophone sites to allow for visual surveys of marine mammals in addition to our acoustic tracking.

Max Bakken, our field technician, is busy assembling windmills, building robust housing to shelter our equipment from the elements for years to come, and planning to install a new tower at our mountaintop relay site to accommodate our expanding network.  Our IT expert Rob Mackenzie is back for the summer, fully immersed in setting up our new servers and AIS receiver, implementing automated detection software, and programming devices that will allow us to monitor power and functionality at our field sites.  We’ve also welcomed New York-based intern Elliot Bok into the world of reviewing spectrograms,  logging cetacean detections, and hydrophone station construction.

Next week two high school students from Bella Bella will join our crew for the summer as a part of the SEAS internship program.  They’ll assist us as we upgrade our hydrophone stations, install the new ones, and catalogue cetacean recordings.   We’re also planning a trip for the interns and field staff from the Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department to visit our colleagues at Cetacealab to the north in Gitga’at territory to learn from their marine mammal acoustic expertise.

More to come as we continue to explore the fascinating world of the Great Bear Sea.


SEAS Internship – Week 7


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.

The crew after seining



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.

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SEAS Internship – Week 6

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.

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SEAS Internship – Week 5

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.

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SEAS Internship – Week 4

Check out this video that Gene created during the fourth week of the internship program:

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SEAS Internship – Week 3

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.

Coho fry


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.

Gene with a Dolly Varden

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SEAS Internship – Week 2

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.

Struggling to get out of the wet suit after seining and tagging sockeye.


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.

After a successful day of sockeye tagging.


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.

Richard snorkels in a dry suit.


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.

Preparing to set the crab traps.

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SEAS Internship – Week One Reflections

Jenna Starr

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.

Jenna records data during a crab survey

Richard Wilson-Hall

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.

Richard pulls up a g-trap

Louis Shaw

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!

Louis is all ready to hike up a stream

Gene Larsen

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.

Gene smiles for the camera during a stream survey

William Boss

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.

William puts his waders to the test

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SEAS Internship 2012

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 interns after their first stream survey

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