Tis the Season for Forage Fish!
Pacific sand lance burrowing in the sand
Pacific sand lance eggs from Kye Bay by V. East
Top: Surf smelt, Bottom: Pacific sand lance by K. Perry
Beach survey in progress by A. Spooner
Project Watershed along with a group of citizen scientists, the K’omoks First Nation, and North Island College student volunteers have been working hard to identify these forage fish spawning beaches since September 2019. This work is linked to a larger initiative to identify forage fish beaches within the entire Salish Sea where forage fish play a critical ecological role as a main food source for marine birds, fish and mammals.
Last November/December, we confirmed that Goose Spit, Air Force Beach, Shingle Spit, Mansons Landing, and Smelt Bay are all positive sites for Pacific sand lance. In addition, Pacific sand lance eggs have recently been found at Kye Bay.
We can confirm a beach is positive for forage fish in a variety of ways:
- Visual scrutiny can reveal live or dead adults or juveniles on the beach.
- Using a microscope to look at sand samples can relieve the small eggs that are laid on the beach and stuck to sand grains.
- An environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis of sand samples can detect forage fish DNA revealing that the fish were on the beach.
South of the Comox Valley Pacific sand lance embryos have been found in Parksville at Community Park Beach and San Pariel; in the Qualicum area at Little Qualicum Beach and Sunnybeach, in Lantzville at Sebastian Beach, in Nanaimo at Piper’s Lagoon, on Gabriola Island at RuBay Beach and on Pender Island at James Point Beach. In November, surf smelt eggs were found around the Victoria area at Tryon Beach and Lillian Hoffar Park Beach in North Saanich, Surfside Beach and Robert’s Bay Beach in Sidney and Cadboro Bay Beach in Saanich/Oak Bay.
We are seeing all this activity as November through to February is prime spawning time for Pacific sand lance, and while many Surf smelt have a broader spawning time frame (some spawn year round), they are also known to spawn in this winter window.
Identifying spawning beaches is a first step towards learning how to better protect and steward these important species. To find out more visit our Forage Fish page or read and download our forage fish brochure.
It must be mentioned that this work could not be completed without our amazing volunteers who have put in too many hours to count in the field, sieving, vortexing, and counting eggs. This research project is also made possible thanks to funding from the BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund and the Pacific Salmon Foundation.
An important milestone was met on November 30th, 2020 as Project Watershed transferred the remaining funds for the acquisition of Kus-kus-sum to Interfor Corporation LTD.
After a brief hiatus from Project Watershed Jennifer Sutherst has returned to the organization as our Senior Staff Biologist in order to continue to support our sensitive habitat stewardship objectives.
The Board of Directors is proud to announce the recruitment of an Executive Director to the Project Watershed team.
In honour of Valentine’s Day and to show our love for our community and everyone in it, Project Watershed proudly announces that we have signed the Safe, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Pledge that Comox Valley Pride has created.
Jennifer Sutherst has been a key leader at Project Watershed for the last seven years.
Project Watershed hosted a Fundraising Blitz this November which closed with a Reverse Telethon on Saturday, November 28th. The Blitz successfully raised over $60,000 and donations are still rolling in. All donations from the Blitz have been matched by the Ngan-Page family fund and they have extended their commitment to match donations until December 31st!
Project Watershed Now Accepts E-transfers
Project Watershed is offering a contract for a part-time (32 hrs. [+ or -] per week) opportunity to perform as an Executive Director. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise working on innovative and collaborative multi-disciplinary habitat restoration projects. Project Watershed supports professional growth; opportunities for training and mentoring will be provided.