Hernando Reef trip

Hernando Reef trip
by Cindy Dalcourt, 18 May 2018

Arriving early in Lund, most of us treated ourselves at Nancy’s Bakery before boarding the Misty Isles.

Enjoying the bright sunshine and calm water we were off to a good start, made even better when an Orca passed us by shortly after leaving the harbour.  On the way to the reef captain Mike and Rick Harbo (the previous night’s speaker) gave us information and answered our questions.

It was a short crossing and we anchored just offshore while we waited for the tide to get to it’s lowest point so we could go ashore.  Waiting on the boat we were surrounded by Harbour Porpoises, a few coming so close we could see and hear them breathe.  It was also the perfect place to watch the many Eagles in the sky and on the rocks.

In time we took the zodiac to shore where we spend the next few hours turning over rocks and bringing what we found to Rick who was a wealth of knowledge.  He had a plastic viewing box that we could drop in whatever we found and then we could see it close up from different angles.  We saw many different kinds of starfish, sea snails, jellyfish, crabs, midshipmen and so much more.

Across the reef from us on the Vancouver Island side we were just able to make out a pod of Orcas that the whale watching boats were surrounding.  They were there for at least an hour, but unfortunately just a little to far away to see clearly.  There was a little excitement when suddenly rows of seals started to swim towards us from further down the beach. Rick mentioned that the Orca’s were transient and therefore meat eaters so maybe the seals were being cautious.

When it was time to leave we passed a sleeping sea lion floating in the water.  His bark let us know he was not too happy to have been woken up.  As we still had some time left Mike took us on a tour of the Copeland Islands, heading back into Lund just as the long weekend boat traffic starting to pick up.

Hernando Reef with Rick Harbo

Hernando Reef with Rick Harbo 
by Julia Young, 5
 June 2016.

On a calm sunny morning the Misty Isles, captained by Mike, left Lund with 12 passengers.   En route to the reef, Mike used his navigational maps to illustrate the uplifting of peaks around us, the carving of deep channels by ice, and the effects of tides, currents and water temperature on the diversity of ecological zones and marine life in the region.

As we closed on to Hernando Reef, the vivid green, waving sea grass, darting fish and scurrying red rock crabs in the shallows under the Zodiac was the start of a fascinating few hours exploring the myriad life on the flat rocky reef, guided by renowned marine biologist Rick Harbo, on a day and time of the year’s lowest tide.   Much of the life at the reef’s shoreline was hidden under numerous species of green, red and brown seaweeds, from the prolific invasive Sargassum from Japan to the most delicate and coral-like structures.

As a shell and shellfish specialist, Rick found and identified for us a huge variety of clam, oyster, cockle, snail, limpet and chiton species, ranging from tiny 1 or 2-year old limpets and oysters clinging to shells and rocks to the big horse clams with their huge gaping siphons.

At this lowest of low tides all forms of exposed life are forced to find shelter under seaweed and rocks.  Most carefully upturning and then replacing rock after rock, Rick pointed out and described the interdependent life of dozens of shell, crab, sponge, shrimp, slug, fish species akin to complete ecosystems.   Of special note for us, were the 4 to 6-inch male “midshipmen” fish guarding the large orange eggs laid by the females on the undersides of small boulders.   Some of these same watery nooks were home to literally dozens of animal species of all shapes and sizes, some hardly identifiable by beginners as animals at all.  This was an amazingly rich experience for us and we all felt most grateful to Rick for giving his time to us.  But we know he enjoyed it too.

As the zodiac returned us back to the boat, we counted fifteen eagles soaring above and sitting on the rocks:  their once-a-year feast opportunity.  Back on board Christine served iced tea and cookies and Mike, having a little extra time, took the Misty Isles on a detour to point out rock structures where black basalt intruded into the granite cliffs as well as pointing out a petroglyph that long ago was left by First Nations Peoples.

 The “Hernando reef trip” is highly recommended and an absolute must for those wanting to know about intertidal life.  Thank you to the organizers of this trip and to Misty Isles Captain, Mike Moore and a “very big thank you indeed” to Rick Harbo for sharing his vast knowledge with us.  The ocean  floor became a new world for us and we realized that this ocean floor nursery of so many creatures is one of the most diverse on our planet.

P.S: Laurette Hamoline also provided a link to a nice six-minute video about the life-history of Midshipman fish, which can be seen here.


A low-tide stroll out to Myrtle Rocks

A low-tide stroll out to Myrtle Rocks
by Andrew Bryant, 14 June 2015. 

David Bedry, Heidi Rohard and I arranged (led is too strong a word)  a leisurely stroll out to Myrtle Rocks on a fine Sunday morning.

Fifteen club members and a few interested passers-by participated. Together we braved the bright sun, quiet winds, noticeably low tide conditions, and still waters  to cross the 500 metres or so that separate mainland B.C. and Myrtle Rocks.

Along the way we watched the noisy antics of purple martins, and were ourselves watched by a family of harbor seals.

My personal highlights were the solitary Bonaparte’s gull, a yellowlegs, a willow flycatcher and a pair of black oystercatchers that I’m convinced nested there.  David, Heidi and others happily overturned pebbles, finding crabs, worms and other intertidal critters.

I think most of us were content to watch fishing boats, converse about this or that, and chalk this one up as another nice day in paradise.


David Bedry wrote me the next day to say “Thanks for the tip yesterday.  I went back this AM for a look.  Found them, but not where I thought you said. Unfortunately all the wrong exposure conditions, and this is the best I got. Dark subject, dark background and into the sun, but still a great experience. I didn’t want to push the bird’s comfort level.   Pictures at 500 mm.”

Nicely done David!


Texada Tidepools

Texada Tidepools
by Lu Wuthrich, 13 July 2014.

Eleven of the naturalists group had the pleasure of exploring the intertidal zone at Limekiln Bay on Sunday, July 13th. The weather was wonderful and a low tide provided an opportunity for three hours of fun turning over rocks and digging bivalves on the sandy part of the beach.

The rock formations are striking, as the tide pools are carved out of
limestone and looked scooped out by some giant spoon. Beautiful Chitons
were one of our finds as well as a huge abundance of orange Sea Cucumbers
that seemed to be under every rock. The picture is of one such orange and
white Sea Cucumber.

We owe special thanks to John Dove, who not only co-led the trip with me, but cleared out the trail especially for us!