Rick Harbo – “Marine Life of the Strait of Georgia: past, present and future”

Rick Harbo – “Marine Life of the Strait of Georgia: past, present and future”
by Andrew Bryant, 4 June 2016.

Rick Harbo worked as a habitat protection biologist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada for over 35 years, and while “retired”, is presently an active Research Associate with the Royal BC Provincial Museum.   Rick is also an accomplished photographer and author of numerous books, including the acclaimed field guides Tidepool and Reef , Whelks to Whales and Shells and Shellfish of the Pacific Northwest.

Rick took us a on a vicarious underwater journey, beginning with  an introduction to freshwater molluscs, his current area of research.  He also provided a fascinating historical overview, beginning with clam gardens and First Nations mariculture, the contributions of early explorers such as James Cook, George Vancouver, Dionisio Galiano, and Cayetano Valdés, as well as prominent naturalists such as Georg Steller, Archibald Menzies and Thomas Nuttall, who have species named after them.

His talk illustrated other historical events, such as the use of freshwater molluscs to make buttons, the development of a geoduck industry by U.S. Navy divers who normally recovered practice torpedos, and the renaming of Japanese Oysters during World War II.

These threads were tied together with an exploration of current threats to the marine ecosystem: introduced or invasive species such as Zebra or Quagga mussels, and global warming/ocean acidification.

Finally, Rick provided some helpful links, including a good scholarly paper about starfish wasting disease, a link to the DFO shellfish closures website, the DFO Seven Day Tide Table for Powell River, and a really useful marine life identification website hosted by the Pacific Northwest Shell Club.

Thanks Rick!