Going Forage Fishing, Winter 2023/2024
The weather has turned to fall and with the brief skiff of snow recently Project Watershed is looking to the winter forage fish season. In advance of the winter season, we have been working with the Coastal Forage Fish Network (formally the BC Forage Fish Network or BCFFMN) on collective efforts such as an Egg Identification Workshop that occurred in October. For some of us, it was the first time we saw surf smelt eggs, while others who see surf smelt more often, like groups in around Victoria, got to see Pacific sand lance eggs for the first time. Thank you, Peninsula Streams and Shorelines, for hosting this educational event.
Project Watershed is excited to announce that December 8 of this year will be recognised as “Pacific Sand Lance Day”. On this day Project Watershed, citizen scientist volunteers, local organizations across the Salish Sea, including Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute, Peninsula Streams and Shorelines, and Pender Harbour Ocean Discovery Station, will be out monitoring and collecting data at beaches in a collective effort to increase knowledge on Pacific sand lance. Both of our beach spawning forage fish, Pacific sand lance and surf smelt, are data deficient species with specific habitat needs; collecting and sharing data will enable us to better protect them and the marine food web.
The winter sampling season is shaping up to be a busy one. Our sampling efforts are not possible without the generous contributions of volunteers. We still have volunteer slots available in the Comox Valley on December 21, and for our tentative blitz events on Saturday December 9 and Sunday December 10. We also have slots that need filling in Campbell River at Oyster Bay Shoreline Park and Frank James Park on November 7, 15 and 22 as well as on December 6 and 20. In addition, a blitz event is tentatively schedule for November 29. The plan is head to Williams Beach, Saratoga Beach and Ken Ford Boat Ramp.
All training and materials are provided to volunteer teams for regular and blitz sampling events. During a sampling event volunteers help set up the site and collect environmental data, habitat information, sand samples and photographs. After this they can participate in sieving and vortexing the sample to reduce it from 4 liters of material to a more suitable size for looking for tiny eggs. Sign up to volunteer here.
We would like to remind all volunteers to track their hours so that we can celebrate you and your contributions to Project Watershed, track your progress towards our 30 hours for 30 years anniversary campaign, and use them in our grant and report writing.
Project Watershed is excited for this upcoming forage fish season and would like to thank everyone who supports this work including North Island College, Friends of Cortes Island, Conservancy Hornby Island and all the Campbell River and Comox Valley volunteers. The data that is gathered is made publicly accessible through the Strait of Georgia Data Centre.