The regular monthly meeting of the Comox Valley Naturalists Society will be held March 21st, 2010, at 7:00 pm at the Florence Filberg Centre, 411 Anderton Avenue, Courtenay. The featured speakers will be Dr. Art Martell, and Veronica Lo, who will present on the Scott Islands region.
Off the northern tip of Vancouver Island lies one of the richest and most diverse marine ecosystems in Pacific Canada – the Scott Islands region. In this remote and rugged ocean wilderness, cold water from depths exceeding 2000 metres rises to the surface, forming an intricate food web that attracts an array of seabirds, marine mammals, fish and people.
Join Dr. Art Martell, local naturalist and former Regional Director General for Environment Canada, and Veronica Lo, Marine Conservation Planning Coordinator with CPAWS-BC, for an evening visit to the Scott Islands. You will learn why this region is so important to B.C. and the world, and how you can help to safeguard our provincial and global treasure. Stunning visuals of the spectacular Scott Islands region and will accompany the talk.
Windy and wild, this is a unique place, teeming with life. Each year local and international populations of migratory seabird species come from as far away as Japan, Chile, Hawaii, and Australia to breed on the islands and to feed in the surrounding waters. More than two million breeding seabirds can be found making their homes in burrows dug into the grassy turf and on the rocky ledges, including globally significant populations of Cassin’s Auklet, Rhinoceros Auklet, Common Murre and Tufted Puffin. The waters surrounding the Islands provide feeding habitat for internationally threatened seabirds, including Black-footed Albatross, Short-tailed Albatross, Sooty Shearwater, and Pink-footed Shearwater. The region also supports some of the largest and most productive Steller Sea Lion rookeries in the world and important summer feeding habitat for Humpback Whales and Blue Whales.
The Scott Islands themselves are protected as provincial parks and ecological reserves, but breeding seabirds routinely forage as far as 100 km from nest sites, making the current protection inadequate to fully safeguard the marine species dependent on the area for survival. The most serious threats to the area’s seabirds are suffered in the water. These threats include chronic and acute oil pollution, competition with commercial fisheries for food, being caught and killed as bycatch in longline fisheries, and the effects of climate change. If the long-term survival of the area’s seabirds and the success of their chicks are to be ensured, it is critical to protect a substantial portion of the coastal waters surrounding the Scott Islands, including the at-sea foraging habitat for breeding seabirds.
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) has been working with Environment Canada since the mid-1990s toward designating the marine area around the Scott Islands as a Marine Wildlife Area under the Canadian Wildlife Act. The Federal Government has declared its commitment to make the Scott Islands one of Canada’s next Marine Protected Areas, but public support is needed to make the Scott Islands Marine Wildlife Area a reality.
Meetings of the Comox Valley Naturalists Society are held on the third Sunday of most months at the Florence Filberg Centre, 411 Anderton, Courtenay. Meetings are open to the public, including youth. A donation of $2.00 is suggested for non-members, and new memberships are always welcomed. The April 18 meeting will feature a presentation by Mr. Andrew Mackinnon on “Ecology and Invasive Species”, the May 16 presentation will be J. Crichton, “Birding and Inca Culture in Peru.”
Please come out and join us for these important environmental topics. For more information on CVNS please visit the website at www.comoxvalleynaturalist.bc.ca
Rhinoceros Auklet, by M. Yip
Black footed Albatross, by M. Yip
Pink footed Shearwater, by M. Yip