"Committed to the recovery of wild Pacific salmon in mid Vancouver
Island watersheds through habitat restoration and community engagement"
"Committed to the restoration of wild Pacific salmon in mid Vancouver
Island watersheds through habitat restoration and community engagement"

Newsroom

Yellow Fish and You

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Why were MVIHES volunteers Shelley Goertzen and Chris Smith promoting yellow fish signs at the MABRRI Regional Research Open House on March 16, in Qualicum Beach?

(Photo by Dave Erickson) 

 

 

This is the time of year when we start thinking about our lawns and gardens. Before we know it, the dry season will be upon us and our lawns and gardens will be getting thirsty. This is a great opportunity to have a Salmon Friendly Lawn and all you have to do is nothing. Don't water your lawn or use chemical herbicides or pesticides in your yard. Let your lawn go brown this summer. It will green up again with the Fall rains. 

How does this give you a Salmon Friendly Lawn? The water from our taps comes from either rivers and creeks or groundwater wells. Up to 40% of the water we use in summer is for watering our lawns. By not watering your lawn you leave more water in the rivers and creeks for juvenile salmon, when the water is needed the most. Also, creeks and rivers are fed by groundwater in the summer so the more water left in wells means more water in the creeks and rivers to support salmon. Chemical herbicides and  pesticides are harmful to fish and enter creeks and rivers through stormdrains or directly off the land.

yellowfish3MVIHES is promoting Salmon Friendly Lawns through a Yellow Fish program, where residents who pledge to not water their lawns or use chemical herbicides and pesticides will get a groovy yellow fish sign to show off to the neighbours and help promote the message of conserving water. The sign comes with a decal stating "brown is the new green" which makes having a  brown lawn not only a great thing for salmon but states you're a cool trend setter and influencer.  To take the pledge for a yellow fish, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you're interested in going the extra mile, rain barrels are a great option for watering trees, shrubs, vegetable and flower gardens to reduce tap water use even further. The  City of Parksville offers rebates for purchases of rain barrels. Check out the awesome brochure on rain barrels by Team Water Smart at the Regional District of Nanaimo.

Other things you can do to help your lawn remain healthy and reduce its watering needs are:                 

  • Mow your grass high (5 – 6 cm) and leave the grass clippings. Taller grass means less run-off, and healthier lawns. Healthier lawns are less likely to grow weeds.
  • Aerate your lawn and top-dress with compost to help rainwater penetrate deeper into the roots where it will do the most good and improve water retention.                                       

  You can make a difference.                               

Many Thanks To Our Sponsor

 

 

Pacific Sand Lance Storm the Beaches of Parksville

2021 was the best year yet for documenting Pacific Sand Lance spawning on our shores!

Sand Lance are just one of the forage fish species that travel in large schools and make up the cornerstone of marine food webs. Pacific salmon are just one of the predators of forage fish.

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Sand Lance lay tiny eggs (1mm) on pebble and sand beaches just below the high-tide line - an area called the intertidal zone. Spawning occurs between November and February at high tide. It has been suggested the fish prefer full and new moons, when high tides are at the highest and providing maximum area for spawning.  At low tide, MVIHES volunteers visit the beaches from Craig Bay to Columbia Beach to collect sand and gravel samples to see if they contain eggs. Samples are collected from plots set up in the intertidal zone of established monitoring sites. The photo below shows a plot which has been set up with measuring tapes. 

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A plot is 5 m wide and runs for 30 m along the beach. Samples are seived and "vortexed" (a process similar to gold panning) to sort out the smallest and lightest grains on which eggs are typically found.

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The sorted grains are placed under a microscope at Vancouver Island University (VIU) where the Forage Fish project leaders at the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute (MABRRI) check for eggs. The photo on the right is a microscopic view of Sand Lance eggs in a sample taken on December 13 from one of our beach monitoring locations in San Pareil. So far this season, eggs were found in our samples at the following locations:    

Craig Bay on December 1

San Pareil on November 17, December 1, and December 13

Community Park Beach on November 29 and December 13

French Creek Marina on November 29

 

 So why is it important that Sand Lance spawning sites be documented?

Our actions on and around these beaches, like shoreline development, can have negative impacts on forage fish spawning success so it is important to know where and when these fish spawn. Work by heavy equipment should be avoided on Sand Lance beaches between November and February. Unfortunately, this is the season when serious damage occurs to shoreline property and homes that require urgent repairs, as we have seen in the local news. A lot of the damage to property and homes can be avoided if shoreline development is conducted using ecologically sound practices. Best of all, these practices can help conserve the spawning habitat that is currently being degraded by retaining walls and other hard shoreline structures.

Green Shores is a program that is gaining popularity for making shorelines more secure against flooding and erosion and restoring shoreline ecological function for species like Pacific Sand Lance. Below is a figure from the Green Shores website that highlights the difference between standard and Green practices.

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To learn more about Green Shores, check out their website at https://stewardshipcentrebc.ca/green-shores-home/

 

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In the meantime, many thanks to our hard working Project Leader, Shelley Goertzen, and her school of volunteers who continue to monitor our beaches for spawning Pacific Sand Lance. They are: Pat Ashton, Chris Bob (Snaw-naw-as Fisheries Technician), Andrew Borelli, David Bradford, Alex Grant, Brenda Little, Don Lyster, Don McConnell, Janet and Ben McManus, and Catherine Watson. 

 

The Latest News From MVIHES

Whether we're tracking Cutthroat Trout with scanners and antenna arrays in Shelly Creek, pruning a man-eating Raingarden at the Fire Hall, or observing Coho Salmon spawing on our latest fish habitat restoration project, there's never a dull moment with MVIHES.

Parksville Fire Hall Raingarden

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On November 9, fourteen volunteers pruned, clipped, and chopped  three truck and trailer loads (725 kg) of unruly vegetation from the Raingarden in front of the Fire Hall. This is in addition to the four loads we removed in March.

 

 

The Raingarden was built by MVIHES and the City of Parksville in 2012 and was planted with native vegetation. Over the following eight years it grew into an unsightly, impenetrable jungle and was unrecognizable as a Raingarden. Even the sign was swallowed up by vegetation. We've since learned that the Raingarden needs to be treated like a regular garden despite having natural vegetation.

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Now you can see individual plants. One more day of manicuring and the Raingarden should be transformed into something we can take pride in again. Some light pruning every year should keep it looking attractive. To read more about the Raingarden and its purpose, check out our last article on the Raingarden .

 

 

 Shelly Creek Cutthroat Trout PIT Tagging Study

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There are now 52 Cutthroat Trout with PIT Tags containing transponders for tracking the trout and determining their home range in Shelly Creek.The study has been ongoing since June and is lead by Ally Badger, a fourth year Biology student from Vancouver Island University. Ally has been using a scanner that looks like a metal detector to track the movements of the tagged fish, as seen in the left-hand photo. 

 

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Since our last article on the Shelly Creek PIT Tagging Study,  two antenna arrays have been installed in the creek that can pick up movements of the fish on a continual basis for several years. When a tagged fish swims over an array, the code in the PIT Tag is picked up and stored in a data collector along with the time and date of the event. This is an extension of Ally's study.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    One of two antenna arrays for tracking tagged trout.                                                                                                                                                            

The antenna arrays and data collectors are powered by four car batteries that are changed out by volunteers with a second set of charged batteries every two weeks. Due to the value of the equipment and its importance to the study, it's being guarded by a gang of Hobbits in a secure location in the Shire, so those thieving Goblins can just forget about searching for it. 

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                                                             Each array is connected to its own data collector                   Four car batteries power the arrays and data collectors

Ally will complete her field work in February 2022 and write up the findings in her fourth year thesis which she will present at a fisheries conference in Vancouver next June. 

 

Shelly Creek Habitat Restoration - Phase II

Great news about the 400 m of creek that was restored this summer on the Shelly Farm! About 25 Coho Salmon were observed spawning there on November 4, by our favourite Biologist, Dave Clough. Woohoo!

Below are photos taken in early September immediately after the completion of the restoration work compared with photos taken at the beginning of the rainy season. Notice how the grasses we seeded for erosion control have come up like "gang busters". For details on the restoration work, check out our last article.

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                                                        Restored creek bed in September                                                   Restored creek bed in November      

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                          Pond (created for refuge from summer drought) in September                                                    Pond in November

 

 That's all folks......for now.