Working with the K’ómoks Nation towards Q’waq’wala7owkw on their unceded territory.

Working with the K’ómoks Nation towards Q’waq’wala7owkw on their unceded territory.

Eelgrass Expansion in Baynes Sound

Plainfin Midshipman enjoying newly transplanted eelgrass ~ UB Diving

Eelgrass tied to washers ~ Crystal Norman

Eelgrass bundles ready to for planting ~ V. East

This summer, Project Watershed staff and volunteers will be getting their feet wet to increase habitat connectivity in Baynes Sound. As part of our multi-year Aquatic Ecosystems Restoration Fund project, we will be conducting an eelgrass transplant off the coast of Gartley Point near Royston. The eelgrass restoration is the first component of a project designed to enhance coastal habitat in conjunction with saltmarsh, kelp, and marine riparian restoration efforts which will be undertaken near Gartley Point in 2025 and 2026.

Eelgrass acts as a cornerstone species in British Columbia’s coastal ecosystems and serves as vital habitat for a diverse array of marine life, including salmonids, crabs, bivalves, and moon snails. Eelgrass is a blue carbon plant meaning that it grows in the ocean and takes up carbon, helping to mitigate climate change. Eelgrass also acts as a natural barrier against shoreline erosion, enhancing sediment stability along the coastline.

The project aims to introduce 700 m² of eelgrass habitat, or approximately 7,500 shoots of eelgrass to the Gartley Point area which has experienced anthropogenically induced stress in the form of reduced water quality, shoreline modification, invasive species introduction, and climate change. Currently the Project Watershed team is hard at work analysing habitat data collected by drone and towed underwater video in order to select the best locations for the new eelgrass beds.

Healthy eelgrass shoots will be collected from nearby donor beds before being planted in one of three transplant locations. Each shoot will have a metal washer tied to its stem to weigh it down long enough for its roots to become established. The washers then gradually rust away leaving behind a brand-new healthy eelgrass bed. Volunteers will be needed to assist with the preparation of metal washers, tying eelgrass shoots, and assisting with an intertidal transplant so keep an eye out for upcoming opportunities to get involved!

Layne and Brenda of 40 KNOTS with Caitlin Pierzchalski ~ L.Stewart