Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
White Sight - Spirit Bear Spotting in BC - By Bill and Joan Prunkl
Summer 2009 issue
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Bella Bella (June 12, 2009) -- A grizzly bear trophy hunter was found illegally baiting bears Thursday night in the Giltoyees River Conservancy Area on the B.C. north coast. Captain Eric Boyum, owner of the bear viewing company BC-based Ocean Adventures, discovered the incident while guiding a group of international clients in the remote watershed twenty-five kilometers east of the First Nations village of Hartley Bay. "We were getting settled in for the evening to photograph and watch for bears as they feed on sedges at the waters edge," stated Mr. Boyum reached by satellite phone on the Douglas Channel "when we discovered the individual, along with a large sack of bait being used to lure the bears into shooting range." "We have reported the full details of this sickening discovery to the local RCMP in Kitimat." Under section 33.1 of the BC Wildlife Act, it is illegal to use bait when hunting bears. "We have been receiving reports all season from frustrated bear viewing businesses, First Nations and members of the public that are fed up with finding trophy hunters in areas where they believed wildlife were protected." stated Ian McAllister of the conservation group Pacific Wild. "However, this blatant illegal poaching - in a park - is one of the more disturbing." The B.C. spring bear trophy hunt season closes on June 15th and it is estimated that between 100 and 150 BC grizzly bears have already been killed for sport in 2009. The BC liberals recently declared 30% of the central and north coast protected but continues to allow trophy hunting of bears in protected areas.
Over 80% of the protected areas and parks in British Columbia allow trophy hunting to occur within park boundaries. A coalition of Coastal First Nations, conservation and animal welfare groups have been working to ban the sport hunt of bears on the BC coast and Haida Gwaii. A 2009 Ipsos-Reid poll shows more than 79 percent of British Columbians want to see protection for bears in the Great Bear Rainforest.
For more information contact: Ian McAllister, Pacific Wild
outbind://85-0000000045F121361680344AADFC01B3B64AAA8D44352600firstname.lastname@example.org For b-roll video and interviews contact PacificWild. http://www.pacificwild.org/
Monday, June 15, 2009
Taxis, buses, ferries, a plane ride or two — it’s not easy to get to Haida Gwaii for a trip with Bluewater Adventures. But the effort seems to vanish once we are underway. Each time I return, I am reminded of why I love this place: it’s the abundance of life here.
Within the national park reserve, vast forests stand unchanged by industry. The Haida people continue in their ancient relationship to this land. In May, thousands of tiny Ancient Murrelet chicks make their midnight dashes to the sea, in search of their parents whom they know only by the sound of their voices.
Perhaps the most visible of Haida Gwaii’s residents are its Humpback Whales. Until the 1940s, these gentle leviathans were hauled ashore at Rose Harbour, and rendered into oil and meal. The population was reduced to a fraction of its historical size. Today, though, the Humpbacks have returned in a way that is at once encouraging and exhilarating.
They come from Hawaii, where they spend the winters mating, and giving birth. But they do not feed there. In the spring, they migrate to the North Pacific, with its teeming marine food chain. The 40-tonne whales feed largely on krill, tiny animals that may be less than two centimeters in length.
On a typical Bluewater cruise, we see whales daily. Some are identified only by their distant blows, while others feed intently within easy photo range of the boat. It’s not unusual to see 20 or more whales in a given area.
How many whales are there? Are we seeing the same whales over and over? I’ve been photographing the whales in the years I’ve been a naturalist for Bluewater, and it’s fascinating to see how different these animals can be.
Researchers are identifying Humpback Whales by the pattern on the underside and trailing edge of their broad tail flukes. They range from black through mostly white, with an amazing variety of patterns in between.
Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans hosts a web site with photos of over 1,000 Humpbacks known to occur in British Columbia waters. They are grouped according to the amount of white in their flukes:
Using this site, I’ve identified at least eight whales in my photos. It’s exciting to know that “my” whales have been seen before. But more exciting was a whale photographed in 2008 that appeared again in my photos from 2009! The whale’s number is BCZ0273, and here are the photos. You can see that the pattern on the tail is the same a year later. (The yellow markings are algae growth, and they do change over time.)
It shouldn’t surprise me to see the same whales returning, but it is a thrill just the same. It gives me hope that perhaps this diverse and wild landscape will continue sustain the Humpback Whales and all the other species that call it home.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Picture: Stringer, AFP/Getty Images
Each year in British Columbia waters, about 2,000 kilograms of coral is hauled to the surface in trawl nets, according to Department of Fisheries and Oceans statistics. "That is amazing when you think the coral is incredibly light and fragile — it's not huge boulders," said Jennifer Lash of Living Oceans Society.
Lash, with a team of international scientists, will embark on an expedition in June that she hopes will provide enough information to convince the government to step in and protect the coral forests. Until now, there has been little research into varieties and locations of the tree-like creatures, Lash said. In 2004, after research by Living Oceans, activists demanded the deep-sea habitat be protected from bottom trawling and DFO responded with a scientific review that concluded the habitat should be protected.
Boosting calls for protection was a 2004 statement signed by 1,100 international marine scientists calling on governments and the United Nations to stop the destruction of deep-sea corals. "Bottom trawling is like fishing with bulldozers," U.S coral expert Elliott Norse said at the time. But action from DFO has been slow, largely because of lack of information about deep-sea corals, Lash said. For the full article, click here