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!

Rand Rudland – “Melanesian marvels”

Rand Rudland – “Melanesian marvels”
by Andrew Bryant, 
21 April 2016. 

Rand Rudland, MD,  is just one of those people who’s hard to pin down. Physician to high arctic communities, whitewater rafting guide, globetrotting birder, Antarctic explorer, and Director of the Sunshine Coast Natural History Society,  Rand visited Powell River to speak about his recent travels in Melanesia.

As Ship’s Physician aboard the Spirit of Enderby, he was able to visit some of the most remote places in the southwest Pacific – islands with exotic names like Nissan, Mussau, VanikoroDuff, Bipi, and Espiritu Santo – together with places that might resonate for some – like Guadalcanal, the Coral Sea, and Rabaul.

Did I mention that Rand is also a very talented photographer?

Although he mostly focused on birds – and the incredible level of endemisn to be found there – he also regaled us with images of seldom-seen tribal “sing-sings”, artifacts from the second world war, scary spiders, even scarier snakes, gorgeous butterflies, orchids, flying fish, and some of the happiest children in the world!

It’s not every day that you have a guest speaker casually say “oh and that’s a Superb Pitta…I think that’s only about the 4th or 5th time this species has ever been photographed…sorry for the poor quality, but the jungle was a bit dark, and it was about 42° C in the shade…”

A talk not to be missed.  A more detailed description of his adventures was published in his own club’s wonderful Marsh Wrenderings, which I’ve made available here.