Chris described the fields of research in astronomy from the planetary to the cosmological scales – C. Mann
The universe is primarily studied using electromagnetic radiation from radio waves to optical light to gamma rays – C. Mann
We set the stage in our own solar system before looking outward to other star systems – C. Mann
Here we must define what an exoplanet actually is (that’s not as easy as you might think!) – C. Mann
The 1st exoplanet was discovered 25 years ago in an orbit we did not expect! – C. Mann
Detection methods: first velocimetry, then transit (pictured here), and now direct imaging – C. Mann
These methods have resulted in a virtual zoo of planets of all orbits, shapes, and sizes – C. Mann
The telescopic array Chris uses in his own research – C. Mann
Chris Mann – “What are Exoplanets and how are they studied?” by Tom Koleszar, 21 Jan 2021.
Chris is a PhD student at the Université de Montréal (UdeM) currently studying extra-solar planets, or “exoplanets.” His talk started with an introduction to the domains of astronomy and the methods used in the study of the cosmos. He then focussed in on planets and especially exoplanets, describing what they are and how they are found and studied. It is a field of research that is still very young, but progressing rapidly, especially as new tools and technologies become available.
We got a flavour of what is out there – several thousand exoplanets have been identified to date, with more coming all the time. The variety of sizes, orbits, and compositions discovered to date is astounding! Towards the end, Chris gave us a quick overview of his own work, using a telescopic array in New Mexico to verify and detail discoveries made by an orbiting observatory.
In closing, Chris answered all sorts of questions on exoplanets and other space subjects in a very knowledgeable manner. Thank-you Chris!
Glyn Williams-Jones – “Mt. Meager Volcano” by Tom Koleszar, 13 Feb 2020.
Glyn is the Chair of the SFU Department of Earth Sciences & Co-Director of the Centre for Natural Hazards Research. His talk was all about the Mt. Meager volcano which lies near the upper Pemberton Valley, only 115 km NE of Powell River. During his visit to Powell River, Glyn also spoke to the emergency planning committee of the Qathet Regional District.
Glyn gave us an overview of the Mt. Meager complex and its most recent eruption 2360 years ago, which was comparable in size and style to the Mt. St. Helens 1980 eruption. He then covered the recent (2010) landslide and the potential for much bigger future slides in the Mt. Meager area. These are very significant natural hazards!
The volcano is currently degassing, with three new fumaroles having recently opened through the ice cover.
Given its relative proximity to populated areas, Mt Meager is the focus of much current research, including ice mapping, numerical modelling, subsurface imaging, and activity monitoring. And it may even become a NASA test site, testing equipment for missions to icy outer solar system moons!
The geological context of Iceland is interesting – it’s the only place where a volcanic “Hot Spot” coincides with the Mid-Atlantic Ridge – Ricker et al (2013)
This is “The Table”, just south of Garibaldi Lake, BC. “Tuyas” are circular, flat-topped volcanic constructs found in many locations around the world, most notably in Iceland, Siberia, Antarctica, and BC. – Andre Charland
Mark’s thesis was about the formation of Tuyas. In a nutshell, they’e not all created equally…and it gets complicated in a hurry – Þórðarson (2008)
Base camp. This is about as remote as you can get
– M. Koleszar
The morning commute – M. Koleszar
Because of geography, the island of Heimaey always had a pretty good natural harbor. – M. Koleszar
Which was made even more sheltered by the volcanic eruption of 1973! – M. Koleszar
Iceland is pretty windy. This erosion was caused by pebbles swirling around in what eventually became a fairly substantial pit! – M. Koleszar
This is Seljalandsfoss waterfall…you can walk behind it! – M. Koleszar
Gullfoss (“Golden Falls”) was the site of a proposed hydrolectric project in the 1950s. It is now protected, and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland. – M. Koleszar
Incredible – M. Koleszar
Iceland is otherworldly…and gorgeous – M. Koleszar
The”Krafla fires” lasted from 1975-1984 and represented a significant volcanic “extension event” – Sigurður Þórarinsson
This looks to be a pretty lonely ranch. The sheep might help. – M. Koleszar
This is the last landfal before reaching Antarctica…about 15,000 km further south – M. Koleszar
Resiliance – M. Koleszar
Resiliance #2 – M. Koleszar
Birding is popular in Iceland – T. Koleszar
Common Murres (Uria aalge) – T. Koleszar
Atlantic Puffins (Fratercula arctica) – M. Koleszar
American Oystercatchers (Haematopus palliatus) – U. Koleszar
Iceland Ponies – U. Koleszar
This is Grímsvötn (“Grim Waters”), which erupted beneath a glacier in May of 2011, disrupting air traffic throughout northern Europe. – Páll Stefánsson
Mark’s Powerpoint presentation described this as “The continental divide”.
He knows more that I.
For me…it’s just stunning. – M. Koleszar
Mark Koleszar – “Geological tales of Iceland” by Andrew Bryant, 17 Oct 2019.
Mark recently completed his Masters thesis at the University of Iceland, entitled “Flat-topped volcanic edifices in Vonarskarð, Central Iceland, and on the Kolbeinsey Ridge“. You can learn more about his research here, or read his full thesis here.
Geology is one thing. Iceland is something else.
Over the course of three years, Mark got to visit places that few humans have ever seen – indeed his principal field study areas are about as remote as it gets. Iceland is a place of wonder; waterfalls, volcanoes, ponies and puffins. And Mark (and family) are very talented photographers.
So I think it best to let the images speak for themselves.
Earth’s cryosphere: much if not all of Canada’s hydrology is influenced by the cryosphere
Canada’s glaciers: about 200,000 km² if ice, ¾ of it the Arctic Archipelago
Comox Glacier: see the changes over a 3 year period
Devon Island: the ice cap meets the sea over a 15 km calving front
Peyto Glacier mass balance: the long term trend is clear even through the large annual variations
Global summary: most areas decline while Scandinavia grows due to increased precipitation
Peyto Glacier history: changes in size since 1840
Ice core story: the cores show more melt features now than at any time since the last ice age ended
Field work – the good: Columbia Icefield on a sunny day
Field work: – the bad: and the more common poor weather (digging out camp day after day)
Mike Demuth – “Cold Matters: Cryospheric Change and Related Hydro-ecological Functioning” by Tom Koleszar, 26 Sep 2019.
Mike is an Emeritus Research Scientist in Glaciology and Cold Region Environments who lives part-time in Lund. Mike’s talk introduced us to Earth’s cryosphere and then focussed on mountain glaciers. More can be learned about the cryosphere here.
We learned a great deal about how to measure glaciers and track changes to their mass balance over time – not a simple task! Direct field measurements shown included stake farms, digging pits, and drilling holes through the ice – in all kinds of weather! Remote sensing through photography, Lidar, and satellite measurements is also very valuable today.
The talk then turned to focus on the results – the dramatic changes taking place today in most of the world’s alpine glaciers. Warming conditions and changes to precipitation patterns can be seen very clearly in the ice measurements – one advantage of cryosphere research is that it is easy to eliminate weather noise for climate data. The changing ice mass then has pronounced hydrology effects downstream on resource industries, agriculture, wildlife, recreation, and domestic water supplies.
In closing, Mike paid homage to some of the original 19th century workers in glaciology, and showed some more great pictures of some nice days – and not so nice days – in the field.
Why is there an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? Plate tectonics and volcanoes. – B. Sherriff
Easter Island is actually formed by three volcanoes. Bacause of plate tectonics, these formed in “approximately the same place” over millions of years…making Easter Island quite different from the long, drawn-out string of volcanoes that make up the Hawaiian Islands. – B. Sherriff
Thor Hyerdahl was wrong – about a number of things! – B. Sherriff
The last “true-blood” Rapa Nui woman died in 1946…but the language and culture lives on, with a significant population inhabiting mainland Chile. – B. Sherriff
What’s the difference between a Maoi and a Ahu? The Ahu are the platforms that the statues (Maoi) stand upon. The mysterious Moai were powerful ancestors often chiefs placed on a platform (Ahu) to protect a village. – B. Sherriff
In 1774, the island was rediscovered during the second voyage of Captain James Cook. One of the expedition’s artists was William Hodges, who painteded this famous watercolor. He’s one of few who saw the Moai still standing.
Rana Raraku Quarry (where all the Moai were carved) has 397 Moai in various stages of carving…carving Moai was a business !!! – B. Sherriff
Contrary to popular belief, the Rapa Nui did not cut down all the trees and move the Moai along on rollers. Instead they carved them with a “keel” and “walked them along”…like moving a heavy appliance – B. Sherriff
Why did the Moai get toppled? War. – B. Sherriff
The native trees did get wiped out…primarily because of clearing for agriculture, wood used for cremations, and the introduction of rats. – B. Sherriff
The adoption of “Birdmen Culture” (1600-1867) ended tribal warfare and the local “military industrial complex”…and in turn that ended when Christianity arrived… – B. Sherriff
Something rarely seen…Barbara up at the crack of dawn! – B. Sherriff
Yes, the glaciers of Patagonia are impressive! – B. Sherriff
Barbara Sherriff “Moai and volcanoes of Easter Island…and Patagonian glaciers” by Andrew Bryant, 23 May 2019.
The Club’s very own Barbara Sherriff, well-known for her globetrotting adventures, recently returned from another epic voyage – this time to Easter Island and the glaciers of Patagonia!
Always the consumate educator, Barbara provided a hugely informative and highly amusing talk, deftly switching from tidbits about geology (did you know the Moai all wore “hats” of red volcanic scoria carved from a single quarry at Puna Pau?) to social commentary (why we could all benefit from adopting aspects of “Bird Man Culture“).
In turn, we learned about:
Why there’s an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean
Where the Rapa Nui people came from
What happened to them
What the giant statues represent
The difference between a Moai and an Ahu
How the Moai were made
How they were moved
Why they were toppled
What happened to the native trees
Whew. And if that weren’t enough, we were then taken on a side-trip to the glaciers of Chile and Argentina, where we got to witness something truly amazing…Barbara up at sunrise…
What we’re hoping not to see this summer… – J. Belcher
The Coastal Fire Centre – J. Belcher
The scale of resources is huge…and others are “on call”… – J. Belcher
In comparison to other Fire Centres, things were relavively quiet here last year – J. Belcher
The long-term trend is obvious…but the reasons are complex. Forestry, historical wildfire management, insect outbreaks, and global werming all play a role. – J. Belcher
To put it mildly, the last two fire seasons were “above average” – J. Belcher
Of note is the incredible importance of weather, Wildfire activity literally exploded in early August. – J. Belcher
The scale of things was impressive – J. Belcher
And how can we predict such things? – J. Belcher
Well, 2019 will be an El Niño year, bringing warmer and dryer conditions. – J. Belcher
So, although computer models are “just computer models”…things are not looking rosy – J. Belcher
Yikes – J. Belcher
Fire preparedness starts at home – J. Belcher
Depending on high atmospheric conditions, wildfire (red dots) smoke can travel around the globe – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) via the Washington Post
Jeff Belcher “B.C. Wildfires: past and future” by Andrew Bryant, 25 Apr 2019.
Jeff Belcher works for the BC Wildfire Service. He spent the first ten years working in the interior of the province out of Williams Lake and Alexis Creek. He grew up in Courtenay, so made the move to Powell River just over a year ago to be closer to home and enjoy the unbeatable coastal lifestyle.
Jeff’ spoke about the 2017/2018 wildfire seasons, with specific reference to “his” area, the Coastal Fire Centre (CFC). The thing that impressed me the most was the scale of things. We’re talking about huge areas of forests (almost 17 million hectares) and resources (210+ people) – not to mention aircraft, trucks, chainsaws, and other personnel drawn in from across the Province – or across Canada – or even from Australia or South Africa!
By comparison with other Fire Centres, the Coastal Fire Centre had a “quiet” 2018 season, with “only” 297 fires and ~150,000 hectares burned. The Northwest Fire Centre had fewer fires (150) but these burned an extraordinary 843,000 hectares. Equally impressive were the trends over time. In a word, they’re up.
Jeff provided some helpful links, for example to the B.C.’s FireSmart Program, which seeks to educate landowners about how best to protect their own properties. He also shared some fascinating graphics…some of the smoke you saw last August…may having been coming from Siberia!
What a view! The food, however, was so-so… – S. Gordon
Access to goat habitat can be, shall we say, challenging…(500 foot cliff, no ropes, severe vertigo…)
– S. Gordon
Typical goat habitat – S. Gordon
Some of Steve’s study areas in the Powell River backcountry – S. Gordon
This photo shows just how close both conventional and helicopter logging is coming to occupied mountain goat habitat. Note the >35 ha clear-cut adjacent to occupied goat habitat. – S. Gordon
Classic “old-school” field-biology. Watching goats through a 60x spotting scope. Randomized “instantaneous scan sampling”…and a whole lot of hours. – S. Gordon
Long-term observation allowed sexing of juveniles through behaviour – repeated observations were important
– S. Gordon
Note the small flowered penstemons in full bloom – S. Gordon
How does one go about catching a mountain goat? – S. Gordon
Steve’s had an exciting and rewarding career – with the opportunity to make a difference! – S. Gordon
Admittedly, some days were better than others… – S. Gordon
No regrets – S. Gordon
Steve Gordon – “Goats, grizzlies and goshawks: adventures of a habitat biologist” by Andrew Bryant, 21 Mar 2019.
Steve works for the B.C. Ministry of Environment as a “Habitat Biologist” based out of Nanaimo. He prefaced his talk as “not to be interpreted as expressing government policy”…and then told his story. And what a story it is. He’s served variously as a “Land Use Planning Biologist”, “Ecosystem Section Head”, “Field Operations Supervisor”, “Forest Ecosystem Specialist”, and “Habitat Protection Officer”.
But the bulk of his career, and the bulk of his talk, has been related to mountain goats.
As part of his M.Sc. research at Royal Roads University, Steve spent two years observing mountain goats in their natural habitats high in the backcountry behind Powell River. His focus was to evaluate the impact of helicopter-logging on the behaviour of these magnificent beasts.
In biological terms, mountain goats are quite unusual. The species (Oreamnos americanus) is the only species in the genus. They live in impossible terrain. Where death is a single mis-step away. That’s what mountain goats do. That’s what mountain goats are. Life on the edge.
Oh. And Steve did it too. It rather looks like he enjoyed it.
I liked this shot, as it shows different plumages (ages) – D. Hancock
Here’s the cheat-sheet – D. Hancock
Impressive – D. Hancock
Early days…with wrapped eagles – D. Hancock
Be sure to check out the eagle-cams! – D. Hancock
Be sure to check out the eagle-cams! – D. Hancock
David Hancock – “Understanding the lives of Bald Eagles” by Andrew Bryant, 28 Feb 2019.
David has spent most of his life studying west coast and arctic wildlife, but is most well-known for his work with Bald Eagles, beginning with his pioneering population surveys during the early 1960s while a graduate student at UBC.
Although a world travelor, published author and interested in all birds of prey, David has focused much of his recent efforts following the bald eagle adaptations to the urban environment. In 2006, he and fellow Director Dr. David Bird founded the Hancock Wildlife Foundation, which promotes the conservation and appreciation of wildlife and their habitats through science, education, and stewardship.
Today David is involved with various Bald Eagle projects, including his pioneering programs broadcasting live streaming web cameras to the general public and consulting on Bald Eagle mitigation programs, where he brings his ecological understanding of “Speaking for Eagles” to the business table.
Presently, he is helping develop the Bald Eagle Tracking Alliance in the Fraser Valley – a project he spearheaded with the HWF. David has developed a monitoring database of over 400 pairs of nesting Bald Eagles in the Lower Fraser Valley that enables an understanding of competing eagle territories. You can even follow tagged eagles in real-time…check it out.
This looks much like both Amanita gemmata and
Amanita pantherina…Let’s see which it is! – J. Leane
– DNA is “amplified” using polymerase
chain reaction (PCR)
– DNA “primers” define start and stop points for DNA copying from the much larger full genome
– The amount of target DNA is doubled roughly every 2
minutes, ending up with ~2 billion times more target DNA than you started with – J. Leane
– DNA sequencing is now around $9 USD per sequence
from a commercial lab
– The equipment necessary to prepare DNA at home for
sequencing costs under $1000 total
– The portions of the fungal genome suitable for
identification purposes are well-studied and reliable
(internal transcribed spacer regions) – J. Leane
Once a several-thousand-dollar tool used in high-tech university labs, now on Ebay…I found mine for under $1000 – J. Leane
This is the region we care about. There’s some benefit to studying other regions but this is the standard place to look – J. Leane
– Once the PCR process is complete (90-120 mins), the samples are verified via gel electrophoresis, then sent to the lab for sequencing – After receiving the sample, the lab sends you the DNA sequence in less than 24 hours in most cases – J. Leane
This is a “sequence file”
The DNA code is on the top, at bottom are raw results from the sequencing machine. – J. Leane
There’s a Google for this!
This on-line tool lets you search for your sequence in the GenBank database. – J. Leane
These are the search results.
oh. Well that’s a problem, isn’t it? 100% match to two different species. That is NOT how species work
– J. Leane
These are the real results
It’s a new, as yet unnamed, species.
These new entries are only a month old, the science moves fast with this stuff – J. Leane
This is Pholiota terrestris. I picked three specimens from the edges of the parking lot at the Academy of Music. Genetically, they were identical – the same individual. It’s probably about the size of a house…
– J. Leane
Is this something new?
Probably not. I think this is Pholiota squarrosa, somewhere near Comox But the point is…with mushrooms…we may change our minds tomorrow… – J. Leane
Jason Leane – “Citizen Science And The Discovery Of Novel Fungal Species” by Andrew Bryant, 21 Feb 2019.
Jason Leane is not a scientist – he works as a technologist at Brooks Secondary – but citizen-scientist he most assuredly IS. So a lifelong interest in science and biology has translated into a most unusual and interesting hobby…and a fascinating talk for us!
In a nutshell, the advent of quick and affordable gene sequencing technology has allowed us to classify species based on genetics as opposed to physical features. That’s why Jason has a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine in his kitchen…yes you heard that right…
yes, he’s been literally cooking DNA…
and learning lots in the process.
Jason’s been examining local mushrooms. It seems he’s been finding some that may be slightly mis-categorized, wildly mis-named, or suspiciously far from their known habitat. He may even have found a new species – or ten.
Because as more data emerge, in the fungal world at least, we’re discovering that we’ve been wrong. A lot. Luckily, in science, being wrong means you get to learn something. We learned a lot…from the largest organisim on Earth to amazing, real-time DNA analyes using a smart phone.
Simplicity – always beware the cluttered background – D. Bedry
Much better… – D. Bedry
Framing – is your story about the cabin? – D. Bedry
or the epic landscape it’s surrounded by? – D. Bedry
That’s a whole lot of snow geese… – D. Bedry
But this is a better shot. Because of the perfectly focused bird nicely placed using the “Rule of Thirds” – D. Bedry
Lines – those sunbeams filtering through the forest canopy are really nice… – D. Bedry
But the path is also a “line” for the eye to follow…and isn’t it more intriguing to have a traveler upon it? – D. Bedry
Balance – here are two snags with live trees in the background – D. Bedry
And without moving more than a few steps, here are two snags with the clutted background intentionally minimized, being replaced by the BIG, GIANT sky… – D. Bedry
Here’s a very nice photo of poppies. – D. Bedry
I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing “simplicity”,”lines”, “framing” and “balance” all wrapped by a master photographer. starting to get the idea? – D. Bedry
Sometimes it’s just better not to over-think things.
– D. Bedry
David Bedry – “Nature photography: basics and more” by Andrew Bryant, 19 Jan 2019.
Long-time club member and skilled photographer David Bedry provided an informative look at “getting it right” when creating images…no matter what gear you use.
He began with a 1979 Kodak film called The Beginnings of Photographic Composition. If that sounds dated or dull, well…trust me it wasn’t! Indeed, it was solid introduction to the principles of good photography…which David’s been kind enough to expand upon here.
In a nutshell, whether you shoot with a smart phone, a basic point-and-shoot, or a high-end DSLR, these principles (framing, lines, balance, rule of thirds, etc) will improve your photography. Because they’ll make you think about the shot before you pick up the camera!
The second part of David’s talk was solid fun.
We explored a diverse selection of his own images – combined with his humorous and candid appraisal about why this particular shot is a keeper and why, oh my word…
this one’s a dud.
Burrowing owls have a really interesting geographic range… – A. Bryant
At the time I was commuting between U of Calgary and Vancouver Island… so when I got the chance to work on owls in the “middle”, I figured – why not? – A. Bryant
The south Okanagan is absolutely wonderful – although not without its hazards – A. Bryant
This is Bob Lincoln, who pioneered reintroduction efforts for Burrowing Owls in B.C. They started with a single family group, back in 1983 – A. Bryant
For me, owl surveys in Washington State were the best part – A. Bryant
Some gorgeous country there – A. Bryant
That’s a natural nest at left…and one in a culvert at right! – A. Bryant
A camouflaged trap at left…and a happy Cheryl at right – A. Bryant
Washington State got some useful information out of our collaboration. Here are some of the nests found in 1987. We, of course, got some owls! – A. Bryant
Wayne was rightfully very proud of this one. “Tri-City West” brood, 30 May 1990. That was a looooooonng day – A. Bryant
This is a natural Burrowing Owl nest chamber, “Pasco 2-pipe” brood (10 owlets), 26 May 1989 – A. Bryant
Orville Dyer releasing owlets at Osoyoos, 1989 – A. Bryant
Reading leg-bands with a 60x spotting scope was definitely an “acquired” skill… – A. Bryant
The dots on the graph represent annual average “return-rates” and “fledging-rates”. In no year were these high enough to establish a “self-sustaining” population. – A. Bryant
In the end, I wrote a couple of papers on the subject, and focused on marmots for the next two decades. – A. Bryant
It wasn’t until I was preparing this talk that I learned that neither owls nor people had given up… – A. Bryant
Burrowing Owl captive-breeding facility near Oliver, BC, 2018 – L. Meads
Juvenile owl at Osoyoos, 1989 – A. Bryant
Andrew Bryant – “The operation was successful (sort of): reintroducing Burrowing Owls, 1989-90” by Lois Bridger, 22 Nov 2018.
Andrew provided a humorous look at the hands-on, and sometimes very labour-intensive methods needed to reintroduce a species. The Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) is one of only four species officially listed as “endangered” or “threatened” under the BC Wildlife Act. They were considered “extirpated” from the province by the late 1970s.
The first reintroductions occurred at Vaseux Lake in 1983 and 1984. Later ones took place near Osoyoos. Andrew worked on Burrowing Owls for two years – while struggling to finish his thesis at the University of Calgary and simultaneously chasing marmots on Vancouver Island!
Burrowing Owls rely upon other burrowing animals such badgers. With much of the area being farmed, there are now fewer of those than there once were. Artificial burrows can solve that problem. Andrew and his team had to work in a treacherous environment as they crossed paths with rattlesnakes, fires, ticks and the particularly hazardous spines of cactus! The work could also be demanding, as they had to dig out the burrows in order to access the owlets. One burrow entrance was a whopping 22 feet long – not easy work on a hot summer day!
The process of gaining the required permission from Washington State was an enormous undertaking – not to mention the paperwork involved in transporting owls across the border. Andrew had to first survey the owls in Washington State in order to collect the owl families for the reintroduction project. Occasionally there were fatalities which were always heart wrenching whether they happened during transportation or due to predators (mostly coyotes, weasels and other owls) after the reintroduction. Habituation pens in Osoyoos did increase success but losses still occurred.
The population did increase but not enough to make the population viable, and after the project ended in 1990 the numbers again declined.
The story, however, doesn’t end there. Andrew recently discovered that a group of volunteers (Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC) has been again trying to reintroduce the burrowing owls. With their improved design for artificial burrows they are having some success.
So with the perseverance of many there is still hope that the Burrowing Owls will make a comeback!
With a mixture of history, science and irony, Jackie delivered a powerful talk indeed.
I was astounded to learn, for example, that the U.S. Navy sent pilots out to attack orcas with depth charges and gunfire in 1955, austensibly to aid the local Icelandic fishermen. Nor was I aware that both “transient” and “resident” descriptors are misnomers; the terms “inshore mammal-eating” and “inshore chinookaholics” more accurately reflect what these populations actually eat and how they behave. The “offshore” orcas with their ground-down teeth are a different matter – they eat sharks.
Much of Jackie’s talk was disheartening. Orcas are in big trouble, and as with so many other ecological problems, it’s not just one thing. Persistent chemicals, noise pollution, declining food resources, tourism, and other factors. In short, Orcinus orca is suffering a “perfect storm” of issues. So while there’s some good news – human attitudes have changed swiftly and dramatically over the course of only a few decades – the question remains:
Heather looking very pleased indeed…she’s been looking forward to this trip for a looong time… – H. Harbord & B. Sherriff
Geologically speaking, it was a looong trip as well! – H. Harbord & B. Sherriff
The history of the gold rush was amazing – H. Harbord & B. Sherriff
So too was the technology of it. I had no idea it was so dependent on fire and water. And now I know what “hitting paydirt” really means! – H. Harbord & B. Sherriff
Whaddya mean, the Dempster is CLOSED? – H. Harbord & B. Sherriff
Amazing – H. Harbord & B. Sherriff
There be birds…but no moose…at Two Moose Lake. – H. Harbord & B. Sherriff
Flowers too – H. Harbord & B. Sherriff
And fearless ravens. – H. Harbord & B. Sherriff
The weather was…well, $^&%#$@!!!! – H. Harbord & B. Sherriff
Big birds – H. Harbord & B. Sherriff
Inuvik – H. Harbord & B. Sherriff
It’s amazing what water and repeated freeze/thaws can create. – H. Harbord & B. Sherriff
Looks positively balmy – H. Harbord & B. Sherriff
The long way home – H. Harbord & B. Sherriff
Wash me – H. Harbord & B. Sherriff
Drunken buildings in Dawson City – H. Harbord & B. Sherriff
I’d never heard of Chicken, Alaska…and I think I won’t soon forget it – H. Harbord & B. Sherriff
On top of the World – over Kluane National Park – H. Harbord & B. Sherriff
Not only did Barbara and Heather survive…it would appear they’re already gearing up for the next adventure! – H. Harbord & B. Sherriff
Heather Harbord & Barbara Sherriff – “Heather and Barbara’s Trip to Tuktoyuktut” by Andrew Bryant, 18 Oct 2018.
Heather unfortunately couldn’t make it – but Barbara stepped up and gave a marvellous account of their epic trip to Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T. via the Dempster Highway.
What an adventure! Barbara was funny, informative, and vivid. I can only imagine what it would be like to encounter a “road closed” sign under such circumstances. For me, the best parts were the history of the Gold Rush (now I know what paydirt means), the intricacies of the geology (how the gold got there was really neat), and the technology of extraction (I had no concept of just how laborious and time-consuming a process it was).
The weather was not the best, and there were a few disappointments, but it sure looked like a lot of fun. We laughed to learn why it’s called “Chicken, Alaska” (because they couldn’t spell “ptarmigan”), the drunken buildings of Dawson City taught us about the problems of building on permafrost, and hey, what’s not to like about a place that has pingos?
Shooting Stars Spring Wildflowers, 12 May. – D. Bedry
Wuthering waves! Skookumchuk…by boat!, 7 Jan, – A. Bryant
Mount Churchill looking rather imposing Princess Louisa Inlet, 24 Mar. – A. Bryant
Early Rufous Birding by Ear Part VII, 28 Apr – A. Bryant
Nudibranch at centre-stage Hernando Reef, 18 May. – D. Bedry
Club members in the field Stillwater Bluffs, 19 Nov, – L. Hamoline
Waiting to go ashore Mitlenatch Islabd,23 May. – N. Pezel
Our route up Desolation Sound Desolation Sound, 28 June. – A. Bryant
Two members enjoying a morning view of Mt Baldy (2000m) Alpine Adventure, 18 Aug. – T. Koleszar
I think Kilroy was here.. Elephant Lake, 28 July. – D. Bedry
It takes a lot to run a club… – A. Bryant
the Club – “Highlights of 2017-18” by Andrew Bryant, 20 Sept 2018.
We tried something a bit different for our AGM this year. Rather than kick off the new Malanat-year by bringing in an outside speaker, we thought we’d take the opportuity to reflect on the year that’s been – and what a year it was!
There were a total of 16 field-trips, not to mention the Young Naturalists,and special events like the Christmas Bird Count, Coastal Waterbird Surveys, Seedy Saturday…and more!
Nancy, Tom, David and yours truly provided the commentary as we travelled, vicariously, over some of the terrain we explored over the past year. There was rather a lot of it. What was also impressive were some of the statistics. Doing all this stuff required a lot of time, effort and attention.
It was a good reminder…it takes work to build a club!
This is what most people think about when they hear the word “dinosaur”… Vancouver Island doesn’t immediately spring to mind…
Perhaps it should. Many are surprised to learn that there are 70-80 million year-old fossils under the whole east coast of Vancouver Island from Campbell River to Duncan!
One can’t appreciate dinosaurs without appreciating time… This is Inoceramus (an extinct form of clam which lived some 200 to 65 million years ago…
Evolution is all about “hedging your bets” and “building on successful mistakes”. These are “straight shell” and “planispiral” ammonites – P. Trask
The Great Elasmosaur Discovery (Puntledge River, 1988) Note the map of the bones near bottom of photo…excavation is a careful process… – P. Trask
Reconstructed elasmosaur at the Courtenay Museum – P. Trask
Another view of the reconstructed cast, with the actual fossil remains displayed beneath in a display case – P. Trask
This is Nanaimoteuthus jeletskyi ,
an 80 million year-old relative of the Vampyre Squid – P. Trask
Tylosaur reconstruction at Courtenay. Rick Ross discovered the teeth and jaws at the Mt Washington turnoff of Hwy 19! – P. Trask
A new genus and species of Mosasaur.
This is Kourisodon puntledgensis, known from a single specimen discovered in 1991 (Nicholls and Meckert 2002) – P. Trask
Mosasaur Discovery, Puntledge River, 1991. The excavation took TWO years of digging…through solid rock! – P. Trask
Here’s what I’ll probably think about next time I hear the word “dinosaur”… Pat’s impressions of dinosaur behavior, thought-processes and vocalizations just have to be witnessed first-hand to be fully appreciated!
– A. Bryant
Pat Trask – “Dinosaurs of Vancouver Island” by Nancy Pezel, 7 June 2018.
Pat’s interest in marine dinosaurs was sparked when his brother Mike (and 12 year-old daughter Heather) discovered a near complete skeleton of an 80 million year old long-necked plesiosaur. It’s called Elasmosaurus.
The new specimen made a big splash in scientific circles. Just as it no doubt did in real life!
During his presentation, Pat described how Vancouver island (including Powell River) was born volcanically underwater about 350-400 million years ago out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean possibly up to 15 degrees below the equator. Since that time the island has moved northward on the Pacific Plate to crash into North America and create the topography that we see today. A vast inland sea split North America for thousands of years depositing layers of marine sediments.
A fossil bed from the late Cretaceous period that extends from Campbell River to Duncan contains the remains of giant marine reptiles, like the elasmosaur, and other creatures that swam the seas around Vancouver Island. Even on Texada Island, 80 million year old sea shells that look like they were washed ashore yesterday have been found 300 m above the current tideline.
Pat’s enthusiasm for his subject was contagious and those members going to Courtenay on the field trip the following Saturday were looking forward to making their own dinosaur discoveries!
P.S: You can learn more about the 1988 elasmosaurus discovery here
The lovely midshipman (Porichthys notatus) – R. Harbo
The secret of a great talk? “Tell ’em what you’re gonna talk about, tell ’em, and then tell ’em what you told ’em”
Humour helps too! The “back-story” behind those dry scientific names is quite fun…and we likely don’t know all of it…
I liked the history too…why is it called a “Steller’s Jay”? – R. Harbo
…and why is it Arbutus menziesii? – R. Harbo
Why “midshipman”? Well, they do have markings that resemble the buttons found on a naval uniform…if you squint… – R. Harbo
This is what you might find in you overturn a flat rock in the intertidal zone, in Ladysmith Harbor, between May and August – R. Harbo
Here’s a male and female (top) – R. Harbo
Are midshipmen edible? Yes. – R. Harbo
Are they popular? In some circles, apparently so… – R. Harbo
What field biologists do… … this is beach-seining tidepools with eelgrass in Bowser – R. Harbo
What field biologists do Part II… … in technical terms, this is called “measuring stuff” – R. Harbo
What field biologists do Part III… … this is “safety matters” – R. Harbo
Rick Harbo – “Tails of the midshipman” by Andrew Bryant, 17 May 2018.
After 36 years with Fisheries and Oceans Canada…well the word “retired” doesn’t seem to describe Rick very well at all!
Author of numerous books including Shells and Shellfish of the Pacific Northwest, Whales to Whelks and Nudibranchs of the Pacific Northwest, Rick also served as a member of the abalone recovery team, sea otter recovery team and Mollusc subcommittee of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). He’s now a “citizen scientist” and volunteer Research Associate at the Royal B.C. Museum.
After a delightful introduction concerning early explorers, taxonomists and why you might not want to have a species named after you, Rick focussed upon those really cool fish that biologists know as Plainfin Midshipmen (Porichthys notatus).
A fish that sings? Really?
A fish that sings so loud that it can scare people?
Donna Moseanko – “Wildwood Queens” by Michael Stewart, 19 Apr 2018.
Donna Moseanko of “Wildwood Queens” gave a fascinating talk on the life of bees and their importance in our ecosystems.
Donna became interested in bees after being mesmerized by a swarm at her bee keeping father’s home. After learning about keeping bees from him and then other beekeepers, she started “Wildwood Queens” here in Powell River. She’s just completed her Beemasters course at UBC.
Donna described to us the life cycles and functions of the different members of a hive from the babies to the Queen. She even enacted the emergence of a baby bee from its cell. The amazing communications of bees was also described.
One of Donna’s main goals is to raise healthy queens. One of the techniques she uses is instrumental insemination and she described how this is done.
Donna is fervent about the role of bees in our ecosystems and how to nurture bee populations.
And so is the land…and the water…and the ice – G. Sirk
One of George’s lovely sketches
– G. Sirk
Am waiting for captions for some of these…
– G. Sirk
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George Sirk – “The Raw, the Bleak and the Wonderful…the Vibrant Arctic” by Andrew Bryant, 15 Mar 2018.
Life-long naturalist, tropical specialist, guide, politician, broadcaster and raconteur, George Sirk is one of those rare individuals who’s just really hard to classify.
Getting his start as a BC Parks Branch naturalist on Mitlenatch Island, George’s career has taken him from Papua New Guinea to Costa Rica, and from Baja California to the subject of this talk – his travels through the fantastic Canadian High Arctic (with a quick stop or two in Greenland…George isn’t one to sit still).
Interspersing wonderful images with his delightful sketches, George literally took us along with him as he variously marvelled, gawked, meditated, ate and experienced that part of the world that few will ever get to see.
I rather suspect that none of us would see it quite the same way he does!
Most trips to Antarctica get as far south as the pensinula… we went a wee bit further… from Chile to New Zealand!
Adélie Penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) on Petermann Island, 10 Dec 2009 – H. Harbord
Imperial Shags (Phalacrocorax atriceps) on Petermann Island, 10 Dec 2009 – H. Harbord
Chinstrap Penguin (Pygoscelis antarcticus) – H. Harbord
Near Petermann Island, 10 Dec 2009 – H. Harbord
En route to Stonnington Island, 11 Dec 2009 – H. Harbord
At Stonnington Island, 11 Dec 2009 – H. Harbord
Crabeater Seals (Lobodon carcinophagus) near Stonnington Island – H. Harbord
Peter the 1st Island, 13 Dec 2009 – H. Harbord
Peter the 1st Island, 13 Dec 2009 – H. Harbord
South Polar Skua (Stercorarius maccormicki) – H. Harbord
Fun facts about the Ross Ice Shelf? It’s 15-50 meters high, 600 kms long, and
487,000 sq kms in area. Most (90%) of it is below sea level. A big chunk (31,000 sq km) broke off from it in March 2000. – H. Harbord
“Awesome” is a word that seems to fit here… – H. Harbord
Inside Robert Falcon Scott’s 1910-1911 hut. This was the base for his expedition to the pole, an effort which resulted in his death. – H. Harbord
The boss…and Heather’s grandfather!
It’s like they left just yesterday… – H. Harbord
More Adélie Penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) – H. Harbord
McMurdo Station is US research station that studies the Ross Ice Shelf. Established in 1956 in time for the International Geophysical Year (1957), its population numbers ~1000 in summer, and ~200 in winter. There are 4 months of complete darkness in winter – H. Harbord
This isn’t something you see every day… – H. Harbord
More locomoting Adélies… – H. Harbord
“Shackleton named a glacier tongue and the glacier that fed it after my grandfather. I stayed up till 1.30am to try and see it”
Seriously…how cool is that? – H. Harbord
Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) at Cape Washington – H. Harbord
Now this is what I call birding… – H. Harbord
Young Emperor Penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) – H. Harbord
At Cape Washington – H. Harbord
Christmas Day at Halkett Bay, 2009 – H. Harbord
This is what 250,000 pairs of Adélie Penguins looks like.
Cape Adare, Boxing Day, 2009 – H. Harbord
Inside the Borchgrevink BNAE hut (1898) – the first expedition to overwinter in Antarctica – H. Harbord
Crest on ship’s bow – H. Harbord
Well done Heather!
Heather Harbord – “Epic Antarctica” by Andrew Bryant, 22 Feb 2018.
A scheduled speaker’s non-appearance threatened doom – until quick-witted Heather Harbord decided to take us all out instead – to Antarctica!
So. After a short pause, all went swimmingly well. Penguins, orcas, ice. More penguins, more ice, and then, alas…
the dreaded technical glitch…
So we only got to see a portion of her slides. Heather, of course is a trooper who’s experienced such things before, so she gamely carried on, regaling us with her alternatively funny, poignant, and just just amazing tales.
A quarter of a million pairs of penguins – seriously?
Adult Marbled Murrelet in winter plumage – R & N Bowers/Vireo
Juvenile Marbled Murrelet on its nest platform high in an old growth Douglas-fir tree. – T. Hamer
Marbled Murrelets have been declining throughout their range…but does habitat loss tell the whole story? – M. Sloan
Researchers tried to relate nesting performance to diet…which meant collecting feathers…and stable isotopes from the feathers – M. Sloan
…which means you have to catch the bird… – M. Sloan
…which is not exactly as straightforward as it sounds… Here’s a bird in the hand… – M. Sloan
Researchers needed to collect stable isotopes from prey species as well. This is sampling in Desolation Sound. – M. Sloan
By analysing the stable isotopes, various prey species could be grouped (clustered) into “high”, “low” or “mid-trophic” levels – Janssen et al. (2009)
These, for example, are sandlance – one of the “mid trophic level” food items – M. Sloan
The predicted relationship between feeding trophic level and breeding success was seemingly correct – in one of the sampled years! – Janssen et al. (2009)
And the answer is, well we know some of it! – M.Sloan
Mark Sloan – “What can stable isotopes tell us about the decline of Marbled Murrelets?” by Andrew Bryant, 25 Jan 2018.
Mark Sloan now works as a “First Nations Relations Advisor” for the BC Government, but once upon a time he spent his days (and nights) capturing Marbled Murrelets at sea – for science!
These delightful robin-sized seabirds are noteworthy for a bunch or reasons. Most of their population is found in B.C. (although they range from Californa to Alaska), where they’re considered “threatened” or “endangered”. Most unusually, these seabirds nest in trees – specifically in big, tall trees typically associated with coastal old-growth forests.
Here in Powell River, we typically see murrelets in winter plumage, and rarely see them in their far more drab, brown breeding plumage. Indeed, for decades their breeding habits remained unknown – the first nest was only discovered in 1974 – by a maintenance worker!
Mark’s was definitely a science talk, with hypotheses, statistical tests, graphs and definitions (what is “stable isotope analysis” anyway?)
In a nutshell, what Mark’s team was trying to learn was whether breeding success of murrelets could be attributed to “how high on the food chain they were feeding”. Their full paper is available here, but be forwarned…it’s hefty reading.
What I enjoy most about such talks is that science is indeed very much like a detective story.
Sometimes the data fit one’s hypothesis, the conclusions are straightforward, and all the loose ends get neatly tied up…
In a phrase, “diversity by design” refers to habitat restoration – and just like ecosystems, things quickly become complicated.
For example, a species can be listed as endangered under the BC Wildlife Act, or the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). There are other “threat-levels” (extirpated, vulnerable, threatened) and designations (e.g., our provincial Red and Blue lists). Add to that the diversity of species, habitat types, land ownership types and “stakeholders” (stewardship groups, environmental and parks department employees, municipal planners, private landowners and even consultants and developers), and it becomes mind-bending.
Pamela expertly guided us through this maze to outline the following Keys to Successful Habitat Restoration Projects (Guiding Principles):
• Put protection over restoration
• Take a long-term view
• Design for diversity
• Adopt a socio-ecological approach
• Apply the best available knowledge
• Set clear objectives
• Apply adaptive management
• Document your results
Pamela and Tamsin also provided a well-stocked display table – all of which is available online – and much of it new to me.
I had no idea there was a Snail Key for the South Coast, for example
(that sure would have come in handy last year on Mitlenatch!)
…and there are many more…
Mist at sunrise in grove of Trembling Aspen (Populus tremuloides)
Torrey’s Surfgrass ( Phyllospadix torreyi.) Tongue Point, Olympic Peninsula, Washington – D. Sept
Spreading Phlox (Phlox diffusa) Manning Provincial Park, British Columbia – D. Sept
Common Cattail, Typha latifolia, Salmon Arm, British Columbia – D. Sept
Yellow Pond-lily (Nuphar lutea), Cypress Provincial Park, British Columbia, – D. Sept
White Fawn Lily, (Erythronium oregonum), Flemming Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia – D. Sept
Pink Fawn Lily, Erythronium revolutum, flower, Larry Lake, Vancouver Island, British Columbia – D. Sept
Pacific Crab Apple (Malas fusca) – D. Sept
Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum) – D. Sept
Common Bearberry, (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) Garibaldi Provincial Park – D. Sept
Mount Kobau, Okanagan, British Columbia – D. Sept
Duane Sept – “Wildflowers and edible plants of BC” by Andrew Bryant, 23 Nov 2017.
Duane came up from Sechelt to talk about wildflowers and other plants – some you can eat, and some you definitately should not!
He’s an accomplished photographer, naturalist and author of an impressive number of natural history guides. These include titles such as Common Wildflowers of BC, Trees of the Northwest, and Tropical Butterflies of the World.
Organized by habitat type – from seashore Phyllospadix to mountaintop Phlox – Duane used his exceptional photographs to take us on a marvellous tour of botanical splendours.
Interspersed among the images were some fascinating tidbits of trivia. Having walked through a patch or two of Devil’s Club (Oplopanax horridus) in my day, I had no idea that bears love the stuff. Dear bears… you can keep it!
I was also unaware that one can make decent beer with stinging nettles (Urtica dioica). Or that First Nations used rhizomes of the common yellow water lily (Nuphar lutea) to treat tuberculosis and sexually-transmitted diseases…
A young Andrew Bryant with an even younger Peregrine Falcon, Algonquin, June 1984 – A. Bryant
Wow…right up there with Tom Thompson? – A. Bryant
…in Wells Gray – just before something really interesting happened – A. Bryant
In the Heart of Darkness – A. Bryant
Western Sandpipers in the Khutzeymateen, 1986 – A. Bryant
Publicity, and a whole lot of work by a lot of people, eventually led to the creation of Khutzeymateen Provincial Park, in 1994.
This is from Equinox Magazine, July 1987 – A. Bryant
Two species of sidehill gougers – one of them imaginary – A. Bryant
Yes, there’s a story behind that… – A. Bryant
The mission was simple… – A. Bryant
…the execution was not. – A. Bryant
somebody read the report! – A. Bryant
Again, the mission was simple… – A. Bryant (left), J. Trick (USFW, right)
…and again, the execution was not… – unknown
There’s more, of course… …but for another day!
Andrew Bryant – “Sidehill gougers & sea monsters: one biologist’s journey” by Heather Harbord, 19 Oct 2017.
Our very own Dr. Andrew Bryant came to tell a story – or more accurately, a whole bunch of stories – about his work with endangered species.
In “Follow the money”, newly-graduated Andrew does just that. He passed up a low-paying “dream job”, instead becoming a park naturalist, answering damn fool questions from tourists in Algonquin Provincial Park. Things worked out. He wound up reintroducing Peregrine Falcons – and having a cliff named after him.
“Loaded forbear” begins with a chance encounter with a grizzly bear, on an otherwise Julie-Andrews-kind-of-day. This led to a slight change in Andrew’s career-path – and a minor supporting role in creatimg the world’s first protected sanctuary for grizzly bears – in a place called the Khutzeymateen.
“Follow the girl” sees Andrew arrive in the south Okanagan. There he spent time rapelling into abandoned mine shafts in search of hibernating bats. Twenty-seven years later, he was surprised to learn that somebody had actually read his report – and acted upon it.
“Watch out for sea monsters” takes Andrew back to Ontario, where he used tape-playback methods to search for endangered Kirtland’s Warblers. Not finding any, he did get a good scare while paddling around Manitoulin Island. The warblers, as it turned out, didn’t need his help anyway.
Here and there we also got to learn about sidehill gougers, zoom back and forth across the country, and see some truly one-of-a-kind photographs.
He really needs to settle down and write that book!
In many ways, we’ve become disconnected from nature.. This was on a recent bear-watching trip… – F. Ritcey
Even among the wildlife paparazzi, nobody seemed interested phographing anything other than the bears – F. Ritcey
Which is a shame. Here’s a delightful robber fly. – F. Ritcey
Some connections are pretty obvious. This is a Pygmy Owl, with a very impressive catch! – F. Ritcey
Some connections aren’t. Here are two black bears filmed on different days with a “trail-cam” – both choosing to mark exactly the same spot!
Electric fencing is inexpensive, effective,
and easy to install – F. Ritcey
This alone would dramatically reduce the number of bears killed in BC – Wildlife Alert Program
Frank Ritcey – “What’s the connection? How to stay safe while figuring it out” by Andrew Bryant, 12 Oct 2017.
Frank Ritcey grew up in the wilds of Wells Grey Provincial Park, and now divides his time between serving as Provincial Coordinator for WildSafe BC, host for CBC-Radio, and hunting wild creatures with camera.
He returned to Powell River to share more of his wonderful images and stories. This time his emphasis was on seeking connections in nature, and trust us – he’s found more than a few!
– Did you know that one can predict the likelihood of future bear encounters by looking at soapberries in June?
– Or that bullfrogs and bighorn sheep have much in common?
– Or that the number of chukar partridge is related to the number of cows?
After discussing wildlife encounters, electric fencing, amd the marvellous WARP (Wildlife Alert Reporting Program) Frank ended the evening with a selection of highly amusing videos, a few of which can be seen below.
Thank you Francine Ulmer & Wildsafe BC District of Powell River, for helping set up this unscheduled talk on such short notice!
Fun with trail-cams #1:
cougar close – up
Fun with trail-cams #2:
cougars and fawn
Fun with trail-cams #3:
don’t believe everything you see on the internet!
The advertising was great – Thank You! – T. Greenwood
Despite the earlier start and different venue, it was a fair turn-out – A. Bryant
This map shows two weeks worth of small earthquakes (yellow circles) and five years worth of large (pink circles, magnitude >4). – Natural Resources Canada
This was a big one (magnitude 8.9). A huge wave rolls over the tsunami barrier at Miyako City, Japan, on March 11, 2011. – M. Shimbun (REUTERS)
Another big one (magnitude 6.3).
Damage to the Christchurch Catholic Cathedral, New Zealand, February 22, 2011 – D. Wethey (NZPA)
This is magnitude 5.1 Workers survey the damage in Gracefield, Quebec, 2010. – A. Wyld (CANADIAN PRESS)
Earthquakes happen for a variety of reasons. The Juan de Fuca oceanic plate is trying to move under the North American plate. As a result, the South Coast of B.C. can get both megathrust earthquakes off the coast as well as shallow earthquakes just below some of the major cities. – Natural Resources Canada
Earthquakes in southwestern BC are spread across broad bands, rather than laying tightly along fault-lines as seen in California. The earthquakes on this map are occurring within both the North American Plate, and the Juan de Fuca plate. – Natural Resources Canada
Most of these would go un-noticed. Here’s Alison with a seismograph (i.e., a machine designed to notice the unnoticeable!) – Victoria Times-Colonist
Why the “Big One” is going to come….sometime – U.S. Geological Survey
The biggest earthquake to hit Japan since records began 140 years ago struck in 2011, triggering a 10-metre tsunami that swept away everything in its path, including houses, ships, cars and farm buildings – and left this ferry perched on a roof! –
This man, a local reporter, miraculously escaped –
Kamaishi Port Office (REUTERS)
Japan suffered a “perfect storm” of earthquake, tsunamii, fire, and the Fukeshima nuclear event after a massive 8.9 magnitude quake hit northeast Japan in 2011 – A. Kyodo (REUTERS)
Unbelievable power. – I. Inouye (AP)
If you felt an earthquake, don’t wait – get to high ground – the fellow seen on the roof at top-left had the right idea – Anonymous (REUTERS)
If you FEEL an earthquake, do this! Alison demonstrating the classic “duck and cover” approach to surviving an earthquake – A. Bird (TWITTER)
Alison Bird – “Earthquakes of Coastal BC” by Andrew Bryant, 14 Sept 2017.
Alison Bird works as Earthquake Seismologist for Natural Resources Canada, and is based in Saanich. Our club, in partnership with the Powell River Regional Emergency Program (PRREP), invited her to come talk to us about her area of expertise – earthquakes – and she graciously obliged.
Beginning with the amazing story of how researchers were able to date, to the day, a massive earthquake that hit waaaay back in 1700, Alison took us through the basics. What are fault-lines, subduction zones, and plate tectonics? How big is big? An excellent one-page primer can be found here.
Using images from around the world, Alison stressed that while the forces unleased in an earthquake truly baffle the imagination, the damage suffered largely depends on more mundane things. Location is important (obviously) but soil types, vertical topography, and ocean basin topography are all of great importance – as are building codes, enforcement, retrofitting, and keeping an emergency kit.
Will the “big one” happen? Most assuredly. Can we predict when it happen? No. Can we mininize risks, through attention to detail? Yes.
A talk not to be missed.
The Cascadia Mega-Tsunami (given time-zones, this occurred at around 9:00 PM local time, 26 January 1700)
Welcome to the alpine. This is Mt. Diadem taken from Freda Mountain. – T. Koleszar
The context. Here are some of the places that provided my “research”. – Google Earth
On a nice day, the alpine is a wonderful place to visit. Here we are nearing the summit of Freda Mountain. – T. Koleszar
Because on a not-so-nice day… – T. Koleszar
Some of the old-growth that one hikes through is pretty impressive. This is a yellow cedar, on the way to Emma Lake. It’s likely several hundred years old. – T. Koleszar
Fortunately, sustenance is readily available. The blueberries are wonderful. These are oval leaf blueberries near Beta Lake. – T. Koleszar
The insect life is impressive. Here’s one of our native bees pollinating a penstemon on Tin Hat. – T. Koleszar
In spots, the bees have their work cut out for them! Here’s a carpet of pink mountain heather at Beta Lake. – T. Koleszar
Life persists, anywhere there’s even a hint of soil. Heather filling a small crack in a granite boulder. – T. Koleszar
Alpine lakes come in many sizes, but at high elevations are mostly pretty lifeless except for insects. This is Beta Lake at the Knuckles. – T. Koleszar
The glaciers in our backyard are massive, impressive…and shrinking. This is the glacier on Mt Alfred. – T. Koleszar
Streams become torrents, and water movement shapes the terrain . This is the Emma Lake creek just below the outlet. – T. Koleszar
This mountain doesn’t fit in with the granitic geology seen in the background. It’s the much older sediments and volcanics of Skwim Mountain. – T. Koleszar
The alpine is a place of quiet, solitude, and time. This is the clear, blue waters of Beta Lake. – T. Koleszar
It’s a place of vastness, filled with tiny details and enormous complexity. Here is a series of small pools on the open slopes of Freda Mountain. – T. Koleszar
Let’s hope the weather holds! – T. Koleszar
Tom Koleszar – “Hidden treasure in the attic: our local alpine”
by Andrew Bryant, 22 June 2017.
Intrepid hiker, geologist, and Club President Tom Kolesar took us on a vicarious exploration of the high alpine in our own backyard – and what a fine view it was! Using images spanning years and multiple adventures, Tom shared his experiences on many of our local mountains.
He structured his talk in terms of layers, discussing each of the
• Tree Layer
• Shrub Layer
• Herb Layer
• Moss Layer
• Water Layer
• Rock Layer
• Wildlife Layer
as the inter-related ecosystem components that they are.
I was personally impressed with his geologist’s view of things. Where I see an awesome mountain ridge, Tom sees a geological intrusion that “doesn’t fit”. Where I see an extraordinary mountain waterfall, he sees “inexorable forces”. Where I see a beautiful meadow of wildflowers, he sees “resiliance”. And where I see an enormous glacier, he sees “time” and “pressure”.
A talk not to be missed. Nor is our upcoming helicopter field-trip in August!
There are safety issues, such as that from the Giant Hogweed – ISCBC
and economic reasons, such as the loss of canola crops – ISCBC
Invasions follow a common pattern. All too often, we don’t notice them until any realistic control measures are possible. Early detection is IMPORTANT – ISCBC
Many invasive plants are introduced intentionally – by gardeners… – ISCBC
One major program of the ISCBC is to provide information about non-invasive alternatives – especially native plants – ISCBC
Here are a few to keep your eyes peeled for… – ISCBC
Call it in! – ISCBC
…and tackle the ones we can… – ISCBC
Don Hare – “Invasive Plants” by Andrew Bryant, 12 May 2017.
The mission of the Invasive Species Council of BC is to provide information, and resources, to combat the many threats posed by exotic plants and animals. Don Hare is their Executive Director, and travelled to Powell River to speak mostly about invasive plants specific to our area.
Many are aware of species such as Scotch Broom or English Ivy. These are now firmly established, to the extent that any possibility of successful eradication is long past. Others, like the Giant Hogweed, are increasingly in the news when someone is injured.
But the problem is much more widespread than many people realize. As the Vancouver Sun reported, invasive species pose a threat in every corner of the province, and the threats are real – and very costly.
Don spent much of his talk about an issue I hadn’t given much thought to – the problem of invasive plants arriving through local gardens…
Either through contaminated packages of seeds, purchase of unidentified “ground covers”, or just lack of information, numerous species have escaped our gardens – and become a threat to the wild ecosystems that we all cherish.
Jessica recently travelled to Mongolia, where sights like this can still be seen – J. Baynton
In North America, falconry is increasing used to control “nuisance” birds, such as conglomerations of gulls at landfills – The Raptors
But it’s also practiced at other industrial sites – The Raptors
and airports. If you want to create a bird issue, build an airport on an estuary…on a major flyway for migratory birds…hmmm… – Google Earth
It’s not surprising that large birds pose a threat to aircraft… – The Raptors
Certainly no pilot would wish to see anything like this! – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Essentially, the purpose of flying hawks and falcons is to gently show other birds that “hey, this maybe isn’t the best place for you to be” – J. Cooper
As in any occupation, falconry requires skill, training, practice, and most importantly, trust between bird and its handler – The Raptors
Which is why falconry is increasingly in use in airports, industrial sites, and even in scientific research – The Raptors
It’s also really, really FUN. So let’s meet “Tuari”… – The Raptors
Rob gets a closer look at “Tuari” an 8 year-old female Harris’ Hawk – A. Bryant
Tuari wows the crowd – A. Bryant
Jessica Baynton – “Island Raptors: the science and art of falconry” by Andrew Bryant, 20 April 2017.
Jessica Baynton has one of those weird and wonderful jobs that us mere mortals can only marvel at. As a biologist employed by The Raptors, she spends her days flying various birds-of-prey. Yes, you read that correctly.
Using gloves, twine, whistles, radios, and traditional skills from the age-old practice of falconry, Jessica works to keep birds away from aircraft…by flying her birds.
She’s mostly involved with Vancouver International Airport (YVR), although her particular skills have also taken her (and birds) to remote industrial locations across Canada. It matters. Because birds and aeroplanes sometimes don’t play nice – ask Captain Sullenberger.
Jessica spoke about the long history of falconry, and how that particular hunting technique/sport/hobby/status symbol has changed over time. What hasn’t changed, as Jessica explained, is that falconry relies on sensitivity, non-verbal communication, and trust.
Falconry works, and has become an increasingly useful tool in the arsenal of wildlife management. Thus, people who keep track of such things report that “bird strikes plummet at Vancouver Airport” – and passengers are safer as a result.
Jessica’s talk was, of course, a preamble to meeting Tuari, an 8 year-old Harris’ hawk. It’s not her hawk, of course…except it is…kind of…
…and together they certainly commanded our attention!
Southern resident orcas are only one of the many wonderful features of our coast – R. Dewey
A lifetime growing up and sailing the waters led to a logical outcome – Richard became an oceanographer!
This is the Oceans Network Canada deep-ocean cable system of observatories – Ocean Networks Canada
A series of cabled ocean observatories are connected to a central power hub, and thence to onshore recording stations around the world. – Ocean Networks Canada
Real-time monitoring and multiple sensors produce BIG data – lots of it – this graphic shows annual fluctuations in a variety of chemical parameters . – Ocean Networks Canada
The highly successful Venus and Neptune systems have been emulated elsewhere…here’s a newly-operational one off the Oregon coast. – Ocean Networks Canada
Tides are the result of a spinning Earth, winds and the shape of ocean coastlines . – NASA (Space Geodesy Branch)
It was nice to have “neap” and “spring” tides explained so simply – with the sun and moon working in concert, or at odds, with each other. – Pearson Prentice Hall
Humpback – R. Dewey
Richard was nice enough to generate some local tidal current maps – to illustrate differences between “ebb”…
…and “rising” tide conditions. The key point here is how strong currents form near shoals and narrows. – R. Dewey
All of these things are of great importance to fishermen, sailors and kayakers…keep your vessel tied above tide-line!. – R. Dewey
Best line of the evening? “I didn’t tell them I was an oceanographer” – R. Dewey
Finally…why we sail here – R. Dewey
Richard Dewey – “Tides, currents, and sailing the coastal waters of BC”
by Andrew Bryant, 18 March 2017.
Dr. Richard Dewey is Associate Director and head of research at Ocean Networks Canada, based at the University of Victoria. He’s conducted oceanographic research throughout the Pacific from Japan to California, and along the B.C., Alaskan, and Arctic coasts.
Long-time sailer and resident of the Pacific Northwest, he’s particularly interested in coastal flows, mixing, turbulence, waves, and tides. Tying these themes together was the subject of his talk.
Richard spoke about the Venus and Neptune projects, which are pioneering efforts to monitor chemical, physical and biological traits of the ocean floor. Plugging in another extension cord turns out to be a bit more complicated – when you’re working (remotely) in pitch dark, and at environmental pressures equivalent to ~600 Earth atmospheres.
Richard rounded out his talk with useful tips about tide-tables, apps for your smart-phone, proper whale-watching etiquette, and a multitude of things you should remember before heading out onto the deep blue – the most important of which is – you really should!
A classic humpback view, showing the diagnostic white patches on the undersurfaces of tail flukes that that permit ID of individuals – T. Brown
Delightful wee fish. These are anchovies in Tenedos Bay – T. Brown
Terry Brown & Jude Abrams – “Whopping whales and wee fish”
by Andrew Bryant, 19 January 2017.
Noted amphibiographers Terry Brown and Jude Abrams travelled all the way from Okeover Inlet to speak about some creatures we hold dear, those whopping big humpback whales – and the herring, anchovies and krill that whales (and many others) depend upon.
Using videos, sound clips and stories, Terry and Jude wove a marvelous tale about the history, ecology, and recent resurgence of humpbacks in local waters.
We learned much about their recent population recovery, and about the threats these giants still face.
The harpoon-laden boats may be gone from Blubber Bay and Whaletown, but hazards remain. Collisions with boats, sound pollution, oil spills, and harvesting of krill, anchovies and herring all pose threats to the success of humpbacks in local waters.
What is needed, said Terry and Jude, is a new – and closer – relationship – between these gentle behemoths of the deep, and ourselves. We agree!