Estuary is immediately adjacent to the Centre. We are
presently conducting baseline studies on distribution
of intertidal seaweeds, and mudflat animals as part of
an estuary stewardship program. The animals in the soft
bottom at 20 meters depth are also regularly sampled as
part of our school program. Uses and activities in the
estuary are subject to the Cowichan Estuary Environmental
[Boatswain Bank] is 10 minutes by road or water from the
Centre. It is a muddy sand flat some 500 meters wide
from high to low water. We often conduct group activities
such as estimating populations of sand dollars and clams
by using beach seines to assess fish diversity.
Fully wave exposed open
is some 40-50 km to the west of the Centre on the other
side of Vancouver Island. We make extended day trips in
school buses over logging roads to Botanical Beach in
association with the Cowichan Lake Education Centre. The
beautiful tide pools and rock formations are worth the
trip. We also take small groups to Bamfield via a 40 km
launch trip down a west coast fjord [Alberni Canal]. Bamfield
is the site of Bamfield Marine Centre, a research and
educational facility operated by five universities. Learn
more about the Bamfield Centre at their website: http//bms.bc.ca/.
Inlet extends from near the Centre to some 24 km to the
south. The deeper portions are without oxygen for most
of the year. In 1995 we surveyed intertidal life at about
30 localities along the length of the inlet. Areas of
the subtidal have been extensively studied from the PISCES
submersible. Sponges which are typically restricted to
deep water [hexactinellids] occur within 20 meters of
the surface in Saanich Inlet as well as other local fjords.
Information on the inlet has been compiled in a series
of reports of the Water Quality Branch, Ministry of Environment,
Lands and Parks.
Semi-wave exposed rocky
the Gulf Islands within 30 minutes boat travel from the
Centre exhibit a high intertidal marine biodiversity.
Almost all major groups of animals and plants are represented.
Broad, thin slabs of shale in some areas are ideal for
comparing the seaweed encrusted upper surfaces with the
animal encrusted lower surfaces. Through care in returning
these slabs to their original locations, we have taken
groups to visit these sites over a period of 20 years
with no noticeable decrease in diversity.
High tidal currents
between some of Gulf Islands have tidal currents of 3
to 9 knots. Animals which have adapted to the forces of
these currents thrive here as they obtain an abundance
of food from the high volumes of passing water. These
include species of sponges, moss animals, sea squirts,
sea anemones, worm snails and others.