From FoodWebsto Clarity on Warden Recruitment Process by mercy2beans126



                                                                                             Winter 2008
                                         FRIENDS OF ECOLOGICAL RESERVES NEWSLETTER

        From Food Webs to Clarity on
        Warden Recruitment Process                                                      Inside ...
                     By Mike Fenger, President FER

                                                                                        Resident Killer Whales Face
I  n the last issue of the LOG, we
   identified Jennifer Smith as a
provincial contact person for FER
                                              This issue of the LOG contains
                                           articles on food webs, both marine
                                           and terrestrial. There is a
                                                                                        Double Whammy                   2

and this raised our hopes for              connection between the articles on           Overview of the Salmon
improved communications on                 resident Killer whales (top of the           Forest Research Program 3, 4 & 5
provincial-level issues related to         food chain) and Pacific sand lace
management of ERs. Sadly Jennifer          and surf smelt (important elements
is no longer with Parks and has            of the nearshore food web). There is         First Elephant Seal Born
moved to another section of the            an up-date on the Salmon Forest              at Race Rocks                 6&7
ministry. Thank you Jennifer for           Research Project linking the marine
briefly helping us and your interest       and terrestrial food webs. A change
in attending our November board            in the marine environment is also            Forage Fish Matter    8, 9,10 & 14
meeting.                                   reported at Race Rocks ER with the
   The role of liaison with FERs has       birth of the first elephant seal since
now passed to Eva Riccius who also         these seals first began to show up           The MSMS Story        11, 12 & 13
attended the board meeting to              for a month or two in the 1980s.
discuss the warden program. We             There is an article on organic
are pleased with the recent changes        arsenic MSMA (monosodium                     Farewell Mike and Carol        16
made to the MOE web site with              methanearsonate) and its use in
regard to wardens (see inset page          forestry and uncertainties on effects
7). To get there from the main B.C.        on the food web of terrestrial
Parks webpage: click ‘Community            species. Thanks to the contributors                Visit our website at:
Involvement’ on right hand list (at        to the Winter LOG for their insight     
bottom), then click on ‘Becoming a         and time .
B.C. Parks Partner’, then scroll              Good news – the proposed ER
down to ‘Become an ER Warden’              within the Spatsizi Park has moved
and click – you’re there! It’s not         to the next stage; it’s now with
very obvious so we have requested          Ministry of Environment Skeena
that a link be placed on the               Region, after receiving the support
Ecological Reserves page where             of the members of an advisory
there is mention of the Warden’s           committee on Parks management.
Handbook.                                                        Continued on page 7

THE LOG           F R I E N D S O F E C O L O G I C A L R E S E RV E S N E W S L E T T E R      WINTER 2008             1
                                                        Resident Killer Whales
                                                        Face Double Whammy
 Winter 2008                                           Toxins, low food supply bedevil orcas
                                                             By Suzanne Fournier, Canwest News Service
 The LOG is published 3 times a year by the
 Friends of Ecological Reserves to promote
                                                     Excerpted from the January 16, 2009 edition of the Times Colonist
     the establishment, management and
    maintenance of Ecological Reserves in       VANCOUVER — The killer                       so the toxins are released.”
 British Columbia. The LOG is distributed to
    members, volunteer wardens, affiliates,     whales of the Pacific coast are                Ross said killer whales are
   supporters, government, friends and the      suffering a compounded crisis                particularly vulnerable to PCBs
               enquiring public.                of toxic contamination made                  because they feed at the top of
  The views expressed in this newsletter are
     not necessarily those of the Friends.
                                                worse by the orcas’ dwindling                the food chain, consuming up to
   Articles for publication are invited. The    food supply.                                 250 kilograms of fish a day, and
deadline for submissions for the Spring issue     The two populations of                     they can live up to 90 years.
          of The LOG is April, 2009.            resident orcas that ply B.C. and               Ross said Puget Sound is
                  Editor                        Washington waters are among                  seven times more contaminated
            Louise Beinhauer
         Design and Production
                                                the most contaminated marine                 than the Strait of Georgia with
            L.B. Word Works                     mammals in the world, partly                 PCBs, the once widely used by
                 Directors                      because their chief source of                now-banned electrical
          Mike Fenger, President                food is laden with chemicals.                insulating fluid known as
 Tom Gillespie, Treasurer and Membership          Chinook salmon, which make                 polychlorinated biphenyls.
            Marilyn Lambert                     up about 70 per cent of the                    The southern orcas that
               Mary Rannie                      resident orcas’ diet are heavily             regularly cruise through Puget
             Stephen Ruttan                     contaminated with what are                   Sound had four times the PCB
              Garry Fletcher
               Wynne Miles
                                                called “persistent organic                   contamination of northern
      Don Eastman, Past President               pollutants” like PCBs and flame              resident orcas, “placing them
            Honorary Directors                  retardants that concentrate in               among the most PCB-
              Bristol Foster                    body fat, according to a new                 contamined marine mammals in
             Robert Bateman                     study by Donna Cullon and                    the world.”
             Trudy Chatwin
             Vicky Husband                      Peter Ross of the federal
              Josette Wier                      Institute of Ocean Sciences in
          Contributors to this issue:           Sidney.
        Mike Fenger, Garry Fletcher,              The study’s findings, coupled
      Dr. T. Reimchen, Josette Wier and         with orca observations, have
               Emily Beinhauer
                                                whale-watching scientists along
 Memberships are based on a calendar year.
  Individual: $20, Family/Institutions: $25
                                                the coast worried.
           Students/Seniors: $15                  “As long as there is plenty of
      Charitable BIN # 118914597RR              food, the orcas can tolerate a lot
                                                of contamination,” said Ken
    PO BOX 8477 STN CENTRAL                     Balcomb of the Center for Whale
       VICTORIA, BC V8W 3S1                     Research at Friday Harbor in
    Email:              Washington’s San Juan Islands.
  Website: http//
                                                “But with the dwindling food
    Canada Post Agreement No: 40020740
                                                supply, some of them are                                   website at:
                                                                                                 Visit our Gladys Lake
                                                entering starvation mode and          
                                                they start metabolizing body fat

2            THE LOG              F R I E N D S O F E C O L O G I C A L R E S E RV E S N E W S L E T T E R   WINTER    2008
              Overview of the Salmon Forest
                    Research Program
                   By T.E. Reimchen, Dept. of Biology, University of Victoria

M      y research on the salmon-
       bear interactions that
began in coastal forests of Haida
Gwaii in 1992 has resulted in
useful expansion of our
understanding of the linkages
between the open ocean and
coastal forests. Funding from
the David Suzuki Foundation
and the Friends of the Ecological
Reserves allowed considerable
diversification of this original
research to encompass the
entire British Columbia coast
and a wide diversity of species
ranging from mosses, to
flowering plants, to soil
invertebrates through to song
birds and bears.
   The emergence of stable
isotope techniques has allowed
the tracking of nutrients
between ecosystems and across
trophic levels. Because marine-
derived nutrients such as
salmon are enriched in heavy
isotopes of carbon (C13) and             Stable isotope values for hair from 7 Spirit Bear and 6 black bear from Gribbell Island. Higher
nitrogen (N15), we are able to           values on both axis indicate a higher proportion of salmon in the diet. As such, the Spirit bear
identify the extent of uptake of         consumes much more salmon than does the black bear when they occur on the same stream.
                                         This, as well as other data, indicate that the Spirit bear is more coupled to marine resources
these nutrients into the                 than is the black bear from this island.
assemblage of plants and
animals that live adjacent to the        indicates that 20-80% of the                       greater below waterfalls where
salmon streams on our coast.             nitrogen in plants, from mosses                    salmon carcasses are common.
   This ongoing research shows           through to ancients trees is                         Each of these results
that the isotopic signature of           derived from salmon nutrients                      reinforces the emerging view
salmon is widespread                     originally sequestered in the                      that there is a major ecological
throughout the riparian zone.            mid-Pacific Ocean. Species                         integration between marine and
Comparisons across sharp                 diversity of mosses and                            terrestrial ecosystem. As well,
ecological boundaries of marine          liverworts is greater where                        the data raise significant
nutrients that occurs above and          salmon carcasses are common.                       concern that the collapse of
below waterfalls that are                   Insect diversity and biomass,                   salmon stocks over the last 5
barriers to salmon migration             as well as songbird densities, are
                                                                                                                     Continued on page 4

 THE LOG         F R I E N D S O F E C O L O G I C A L R E S E RV E S N E W S L E T T E R             WINTER 2008                      3
“Salmon Forest Research”...cont’d. from page 3

decades will already have had
substantive ecosystem level
effects in forests adjacent to                                                                    Friends of Ecological
salmon rivers.
                                                                                                    Reserves Annual
   During the last 5 years, part of
my research program has                                                                             General Meeting
addressed the natural history
and future prospects of the                                                                      March 6, 2009 at 8:00 pm
                                                                                                    (Meeting of the Board begins
Spirit Bear on Gribbell and                                                                                 at 7:30 pm)
Princess Royal Islands. Initial                   been submitted for publication                   Location: David F. Strong
work by Dan Klinka, who                           ( Biological Journal of the                          Building, Room 122,
completed his MSc with me,                        Linnaean Society) and are in                        University of Victoria.
discovered that the white and                     review.
                                                                                                  Speaker: Briony Penn, artist,
black bears on Gribbell Island                       Yet based on the behavioral                 writer and teacher. Briony will
differed in their salmon capture                  and stable isotope data, I                     be joined by Krista Roessingh,
success with the white bear                       suspect that the prospects for                  UVic Geography Department
having higher success than the                    the persistence of the Spirit Bear             Grad student and together they
black during daylight but not                     are very limited. The elevated                   will deliver a lecture on the
during night. This was                            signatures of salmon in the diet                   Sandhill Cranes of the
confirmed through analyses of                     of the Spirit Bear compared with                          Fog Forest.
stable isotope analyses of hair.                  the black bear from the same                     All members as well as those
   We also experimentally                         river, strongly suggests that the              interested in becoming members
investigated salmon responses                     Spirit is much more closely                              are welcome.
to the researchers that were                      linked to marine nutrients                    For more info, call Tom Gillespie at
                                                                                                          (250) 361-1694
draped in either black of white                   including salmon and intertidal
clothing. During darkness,                        species such as barnacles and
salmon were largely unaffected                    crabs. The clear-cut logging in               Trial Island ER Field Trip
by either black or white stimuli                  the 1980s on Riordin Creek, the                      May 3, 2009
in the stream, but during                         major salmon river on Gribbell
daylight, salmon were twice as                    Island, has compromised the                       Join Volunteer Warden, Matt
evasive to the black model as the                 spawning areas and salmon                      Fairbarns, on our annual outing
white model. This was                             numbers now entering this                            to view the spectacular
consistent with the direct                        stream are less than 10% of the                    wildflower display on Trial
observations on the bears in the                  1960s numbers.                                Island. Matt has been working to
stream and would account for                         The Queen of North Ferry,                   eradicate invasive plants on the
the higher salmon capture rate                    which lays submerged in 350 m                   island and we’ll see the results
                                                                                                             of his work.
by the white bear during                          of water, between Gill Island
daylight.                                         and Gribbell Island, continues                     Fee: FER members $10.00,
   A second graduate student                      to leak fuel oil which                               Non-members $30.00,
Denis Coopland constructed                        contaminates the intertidal on                      Seniors/students $25.00
life-size model bears that were                   the west side of Gribbell Island                    (Fee includes a one-year
                                                                                                        membership to FER).
either white or black and                         where the Spirit bear and cubs
evaluated salmon evasive                          have been recently observed.                  To register or for more information, call
responses confirming the                                                                               Marilyn at (250) 477-592
                                                  The Spirit Bear also occurs on
original experiments. Basically, I                the adjacent Princess Royal
suspect that the white bear is                    Island but at lower frequencies
less conspicuous than the black                   (10%) due to as yet unknown                  Royal Island. The very low
bear when viewed from below                       habitat differences between                  frequency (<1%) of the Spirit
the surface. These studies have                   Gribbell Island and Princess                                        Continued on page 5

4           THE LOG                F R I E N D S O F E C O L O G I C A L R E S E RV E S N E W S L E T T E R      WINTER 2008
“Salmon Forest Research”...cont’d. from page 4
                                                 from a ‘non-tracking’ tree. The             year, I accepted a new PhD
Bear anywhere on the mainland                    relative uptake of light and                student, Caroline Fox, who will
presumably indicates a lack of                   heavy nitrogen isotope by the               be examining whether the high
competitive ability with other                   trees is also influenced by                 densities of herring throughout
bears.                                           multiple factors including                  our coast provide a significant
   Grizzly Bears successfully                    rainfall, temperature, light                nutrient pulse to subtidal,
exclude Black bears from most                    availability and root depth and             intertidal and coastal forests
salmon rivers as is evident from                 differentiating these from the              adjacent to the inshore
the low N15 signatures in Black                  direct contribution of salmon               spawning areas.
Bear where both Grizzly Bear                     continues to confound the                      These areas have been
and Black Bear occur together. It                historical salmon estimates.                extensively mapped by
seems that Gribbell Island                          In some of the trees that I              Department of Fisheries
historically offered a particular                cored, the yearly rings were very           throughout the coast and as
suitable set of conditions which                 large and I was able to secure              with most marine fisheries, the
probably included the absence                    sufficient material within each             herring are seriously depleted
of Grizzly Bears and the                         year to allow isotopic                      from historical numbers. There
prevalence of marine-derived                     comparisons across seasons.                 is a reasonable amount of
nutrients that allowed the Spirit                This recent data shows                      published information on
Bear to persist.                                 unexpectedly large shifts in the            herring interactions with
   One of the interesting novel                  isotope signatures between                  seabirds and marine mammals
discoveries in the salmon forest                 winter and spring which often               but no information on potential
program was the identification                   exceed the differences among                terrestrial linkages.
of the salmon signature in the                   trees. As a result, I recently                 Patterned on my early work at
yearly growth rings of the                       processed an additional series              Bag Harbour, Haida Gwaii,
ancient trees beside the salmon                  of trees with large rings from a            Caroline will be making day and
rivers.                                          different locality to determine             night time observations of
   There are very clear                          whether seasonal trends are                 shorelines with high herring
relationships between the                        consistent. These samples are               spawn activity to determine the
average N15 signatures in wood                   currently at University of                  extent of terrestrial transfer by
and the current abundance of                     California at Davis where the               birds and terrestrial mammals as
salmon both within and among                     stable isotope analyses is carried          well as taking vegetation
rivers. However, the year by year                out. If the data hold up, it will           samples and coring trees for
signatures within trees over the                 potentially give me the                     stable isotope analyses. She will
time interval when salmon                        additional capacity to interpret            also be comparing intertidal
escapement data were obtained                    tracking and non-tracking trees.            diversity in areas of high and low
by Department of Fisheries and                   My long-term goal for this part of          spawn density. Her first field
Oceans, is less predictable and                  the study is the identification of          season will be at Winter Harbour
currently I cannot reliably                      salmon escapement into past                 on the north-western corner of
extrapolate N15 signatures                       centuries.                                  Vancouver Island where herring
prior to the earliest Fisheries                     The last 10 years have allowed           are common and old growth
data (mainly 1947). Only one in                  us to identify many previously              forests still occur adjacent to the
five trees shows a strong                        unknown interactions between                spawning areas. I am hopeful
correlation between the                          bears, salmon and coastal                   that when combined with the
number of salmon returning to                    forests in British Columbia and             salmon forest data, this 3-year
the river and the lagged N15                     raises sensitivity as to what other         PhD program will provide a
signature in the rings (lagged                   interactions and linkages there             much more robust
from 1 to 4 years). At present, I                are between marine and                      understanding of the ecological
have not been able to identify                   terrestrial ecosystems that are             interactions in the interface
what constitutes a ‘tracking’                    still unknown. In January of this
                                                                                                               Continued on page 14

 THE LOG                F R I E N D S O F E C O L O G I C A L R E S E RV E S N E W S L E T T E R     WINTER 2008                 5
    First Elephant Seal Born at Race Rocks
                                     By Sarah Petrescu
               Excerpted from the January , 2009 edition of the Times Colonist

A     baby elephant seal born at
     Race Rocks a few nights ago
is the ecological reserve’s first,
and might be the most northerly
birth of the mammal recorded,
say the area’s guardians.
   “This area has long been a
place where elephant seals
come, but we’ve never seen
anything like this,” said Garry
Fletcher, a volunteer warden
who manages
“Babies are usually born in Baja
California, not this far north.”
   Fletcher has been involved
with the provincial reserve since
the mid-1970s as an instructor
with Lester B. Pearson College
of the Pacific, which uses the
reserve — south of William
Head near East Sooke — as a
teaching site.
   He said the elephant seals
started showing up on the rocks
in the ‘80s for a month or two.
“Now there are seals here almost
year-round,” he said, adding
animal populations often
fluctuate for no clear reason.
   Larry Paike, conservation
protection supervisor for
Fisheries and Oceans Canada,            four elephant seal sightings on                 Murphy said he was going to
said he’s never heard of an             the Island, an unprecedented                 investigate the scarring on an
elephant seal being born here           number, Paike said. While they               adult female when he saw
before. He said the elephant seal       were infrequent visitors before,             another adult female with a
population has expanded                 “Now it’s like they’ve taken up              young male that had been
“tremendously” over the last 20         residence.”                                  following her around. “Beside
years and moved north. Prior to           Ryan Murphy, the resident                  them was this tiny pup that
that, they had almost been              marine biologist at Race Rocks,              must’ve been born sometime
hunted to extinction and were           was the first to spot the baby seal          the night before,” said Murphy,
living in small groups in Mexico,       Friday morning (January 30)                  26, who started his work at the
he said.                                near the Race Rocks helicopter               site eight weeks ago. He’s kept a
   The past year has seen at least      pad.                                                           Continued on page 7

6        THE LOG         F R I E N D S O F E C O L O G I C A L R E S E RV E S N E W S L E T T E R   WINTER 2008
“Elephant Seal”.....continued from page 6
                                                more seals spotted around here                  In November of last year, the
close watch on the newborn seal                 moulting,” said Fletcher,                    body of an enormous male
since. “This morning it had milk                referring to the process in which            elephant seal washed up on a
around its mouth, which is a                    elephant seals shed their skin               Nanaimo beach. Biologists were
good sign that he’s feeding...                  and hair and grow a new layer.               doubly mystified by what killed
The pup was the size of a small                 “But it’s usually around June.”              the seal — weighing 2,700
dog when he was born and now                      Earlier this month, a young                kilograms and 4.1 metres long
he’s as big as a harbour                        elephant seal caused a                       — and why it was there. The
seal.”                                          commotion in upscale Ten Mile                species had never been spotted
   The unusual birth is the latest              Point when it settled in a                   in the Strait of Georgia before.
indication of increased elephant                roadside ditch to moult,                     Blunt force was ruled the likely
seal activity on the Island.                    returning to the ocean a few                 cause of the animals’s death,
   “We are definitely getting                   days later.                                  possibly due to a run-in with a
                                                                                             boat or whale.

                                      Ecological Reserve Wardens

  Ecological Reserve (ER) Wardens are a team of dedicated volunteers across the province who make
  significant contributions to the parks and protected areas system. In partnership with BC Parks staff, ER
  Wardens provide an array of services that include: manual invasive plant control; inventory of flora and
  fauna; and, trespass monitoring. ER Wardens act as the overall eyes and ears for BC Parks in our
  ecological reserves. These dedicated volunteers care deeply for the ecological reserves they work in and
  serve an invaluable role in the long-term protection of the reserves.

  How to become an ERWarden:
  Visit the Friends of Ecological Reserves and the BC Parks ER web pages to familiarize yourself with ERs
  that either need a warden or might be of interest. (Even in areas that have wardens, additional wardens
  help to increase attention to these ecologically special places).
  Next, download, print out and fill in the ER Warden application form. Then, send it in to BC Parks staff
  with your name, contact information and application.
  Mail to:
  Ecological Reserve Warden Program
  BC Parks and Protected Areas Division
  PO Box 9398 Stn Prov Govt
  Victoria BC V8W 9M9
  Fax to: 250-387-5757
  Scan in completed form and e-mail to:
  Please allow approximately four weeks for BC Parks staff to process your application.
  If you are passionate about the environment and want to contribute your knowledge and enthusiasm to
  the continued success of B.C.’s protected areas system, becoming an Ecological Reserve Warden is a
  highly satisfying way to make a difference.

 THE LOG                F R I E N D S O F E C O L O G I C A L R E S E RV E S N E W S L E T T E R    WINTER 2008            7
                            Forage Fish Matter
                                                By Emily Beinhauer

I  f you visit the Metchosin
   shoreline this month and cast
an inquisitive eye among the
gravel, you might see some
Pacific sand lance (Ammodytes
hexapterus ) or surf smelt
(Hypomesus pretiosus) eggs.
Both are species of forage fish,
an extremely important
component of the nearshore
food web that includes Pacific
herring ( Clupea pallasii ),
sardines, northern anchovy
( E n g r a u l i s m o rd a x ) a n d
eulachon (Thaleichthys
pacificus,) [1]. In an effort to
better understand the breeding
habits of these fish, sampling of
Pacific sand lance and surf smelt
spawning grounds is currently
underway at Taylor Beach in
Metchosin [2].
   The Pacific sand lance
(Ammodytes hexapterus), or                                                       Pacific sand lance
“needle fish” is a slender fish                (
with a pointed snout, forked
caudal fin, extensive dorsal fin             Pacific sand lance range from                   or more of the diets of marbled
and an iridescent deep blue-               Southern California, north to                     murrelets ( Brachyramphus
green to bronze back and white             the Arctic Ocean and west to the                  marmoratus) and rhinoceros
belly [5]. Adults can reach 37 cm          Sea of Japan [4] usually in                       auklets (Cerorhinca
in length and live approximately           shallow water along the coast or                  monocerata) are comprised of
8 years [13]. The name                     offshore banks at depths of up to                 forage fish. Sand lance make up
Ammodytes means “sand                      90 m [3]. During the day, adults                  50% and 60% of the diets of
burrower” (Gr.) and reflects the           form schools and feed in deeper                   humpback whales (Megaptera
fish’s unusual ability to bury             water on plankton, particularly                   novaeangliae) and Chinook
itself into the sea floor,                 copepods [3]. In turn, the sand                   salmon (Oncorhynchus
especially at night to avoid               lance is an important prey item                   tshawytscha), respectively [1].
predation, or during high tide             for hundreds of other species,                    Human exploitation of the
so that it can remain in the sand          including salmon, cutthroat                       Pacific sand lance is fairly low
after the water has receded                trout (Oncorhynchus clarki),                      globally, with the exception of
during low tide [3]. How it can            marine mammals and seabirds                       Japan, therefore human impact
survive out of the water for               [1]. Some marine animals rely                     on populations is due mostly to
extended periods of time is not            heavily on the forage fish as a                   habitat disruption [13].
known.                                     food source. For example, 50%                                              Continued on page 9

8         THE LOG           F R I E N D S O F E C O L O G I C A L R E S E RV E S N E W S L E T T E R             WINTER 2008
“Forage Fish Matter”.....continued from page 8

   During the fall and winter
months from November to
February, adult Pacific sand
lance move to the high intertidal
zone in order to breed (Figure2)
[3]. Sand lance spawn at high
tide in gravel or sand, where
they dig small pits and deposit
their eggs and sperm [1,3].
Females lay thousands of cream-
coloured eggs that range from
0.7-0.9 mm in diameter [4]. The
eggs are sticky all around and
adhere to the substrate and are
eventually buried beneath the
sand and gravel by wave action,
which may help to protect the
eggs from desiccation during
low tide [1,13].
   The eggs hatch in 4-5 weeks
and the larvae move to the
surface where they feed on                                         Pacific sand lance and surf smelt spawning habitat
zooplankton [4,13]. After 130
days, juvenile Pacific sand lance
form schools, often with adults                  generally an inshore pelagic                     the year, with periods of
and Pacific herring, where they                  species and often remain close                   concentrated spawning during
feed on copepods in shallow                      to their spawning grounds for                    summer and winter [7]. Adults
bays and inlets [13]. After 1-3                  most of their lives [7,11].                      breed in the upper intertidal
years, adult fish will spawn,                       Adults often school and they                  zone, within a metre of the log
often at the beaches from which                  feed on plankton such as                         line, during high tide when
they were hatched; adults can                    copepods, amphipods and krill                    there is less than 50 centimeters
return to spawn year after year                  [8]. Like Pacific sand lance, surf               of water covering the
[13].                                            smelts are also an important                     beach[7,8]. The fish prefer to
   The surf smelt (Hypomesus                     component of the inshore food                    spawn in coarse sand and pea-
pretiosus) is a torpedo-shaped                   web and are preyed upon by                       sized gravel; individuals
fish with tiny scales, a forked                  hundreds of marine species,                      breeding in the summer often
caudal fin and a small adipose                   including flounder, perch,                       select areas with underground
fin [10]. The male is typically                  salmon, seals and marine birds                   water movement and
smaller than the female and has                  [7]. Unlike the Pacific sand                     overhanging vegetation so that
a brown back and a yellow belly,                 lance, however, surf smelts are                  the eggs will remain moist and
whereas the female has a bright                  fished commercially, for sport                   shaded [1].
green back and a white belly                     and by Native Americans; exact                      During spawning, one female
[12]. Adults can reach up to 25                  catch tallies are not known [12].                is accompanied by two or more
cm in length and live up to five                 Other human activities,                          males to the intertidal zone,
years [10,11].                                   especially habitat alteration, can               where they release their
   Surf smelt range from                         negatively impact surf smelt                     gametes simultaneously [11].
Southern California north to                     populations [12].
Alaska along the coast and are                      Surf smelts breed throughout                                           Continued on page 10

 THE LOG                F R I E N D S O F E C O L O G I C A L R E S E RV E S N E W S L E T T E R              WINTER 2008                   9
“Forage Fish Matter”.....continued from page 10

Females may spawn for several
consecutive days and fish often
spawn in overlapping groups
such that breeding grounds
contain eggs for months at a
time [11,12]. Females can lay up
to 37,000 translucent eggs that
are approximately 1 mm in
diameter [12]; the eggs are
distinctive in that they adhere to
the sand and gravel by a single
peduncle, rather than all the
way around [12]. Wave action
will bury the eggs beneath the
beach substrate, helping to
protect them from desiccation
and predation [8]. Eggs laid in
the summer hatch in 2 weeks
whereas eggs laid in the winter
hatch in 1-2 months and then                       Ramona de Graaf, Biologist at the Bamfield Marine Station, checking for sand lance egg
                                                                           locations along beach in Metchosin
the 3 mm long larvae emerge
and forage inshore on                             commercially valuable salmon                   of forage fish spawning
zooplankton [14].                                 species as well as many other                  grounds. For example, seawalls
   After three months, juvenile                   marine animals.                                and bulkheads prevent the
smelts begin to take on adult                        Human development of the                    deposition of eroded materials
colouration and continue to                       coastline can drastically alter                onto beaches and change wave
forage close to their spawning                    Pacific sand lance and surf smelt              action, resulting in loss of fine
grounds [14]. Within two years,                   breeding grounds, putting their                sediments and eventually the
most adults will spawn, often at                  populations, and thus the health               beaches [2]. Boat ramps and
the same beach from which they                    of other marine animals, at risk.              piers can interrupt sediment
were hatched; adults can spawn                    It is therefore important to                   distribution along shorelines,
for a few months for consecutive                  understand how gravel beaches                  resulting in changes in breeding
years once they have reached                      are formed and maintained and                  ground composition [2]. Loss of
sexual maturity [14].                             to take steps to protect them                  vegetation can decrease shade
   During the fall and winter                     from degradation.                              and result in increased egg
months from November to                              In general, gravel and sand                 mortality in summer breeding
February, the breeding grounds                    beaches are formed from bluffs                 populations [2].
of the Pacific sand lance and the                 that are eroded by wave action                   Development, pollution and
surf smelt can overlap, although                  [1]. Fluvial deposits may also                 overfishing can severely harm
smelts tend to prefer a coarser                   contribute to beach formation,                 the populations of these
breeding substrate and may lay                    as well as the continued                       valuable forage fish. Without
their eggs higher up in the                       addition of material from the                  Pacific sand lance and surf
intertidal zone than the Pacific                  eroding bluffs [1]. Wave action                smelts, many marine animals
sand lance [9]. Beaches with                      helps to distribute the                        would suffer population
sand and pea-sized gravel are                     sediments along the shore.                     declines, especially those that
vital for the life cycles of these                Human development along                        rely heavily on these two species
two species, which are an                         coastlines can disrupt beach                   for food. Chinook salmon
important food source for                         formation, resulting in the loss
                                                                                                                      Continued on page 14

10          THE LOG                F R I E N D S O F E C O L O G I C A L R E S E RV E S N E W S L E T T E R        WINTER 2008
                            The MSMA Story
                                            By Josette Wier, Smithers

M      SMA (Monosodium
       methanearsonate) is a
pesticide which contains
arsenic, a form called organic
arsenic because it is linked to
carbon molecules, contrary to
the inorganic arsenic found in
rocks. In Canada, MSMA has
been used for 20 years as a
pesticide against Mountain Pine
beetle infestations in BC. In the
United States, it was spread
extensively (3 million pounds a
year) as a herbicide on cotton
plantations and golf courses.
  T h e N o t i c e f o r Pe r m i t
Application for MSMA in the
local paper in 2000, was cause
for alarm as 3,000kg of arsenic
(active ingredient) was pro-
                                                     A Ministry of Forests warning sign posted on an arsenic-treated tree.
posed to be injected in the trees
of the Morice Forest District, an
area located around Houston               considered that organic arsenic                 significance of the new scientific
and near Smithers over a 3-year           was lkely more toxic than inor-                 findings but they would con-
timeframe.                                ganic arsenic, while a metabo-                  tinue to use the product
  Dr. Cullen, professor of                lized product of methylated                     because it was registered by
Chemistry at UBC, and a world             compounds was found to be                       Health Canada. PMRA asserted
expert on arsenic toxicity who            the most genotoxic product                      that they already knew about the
was involved in the Great Slave           known to man.                                   scientific findings, but this did
Lake arsenic contamination in                Armed with such strong                       not change their evaluation that
Yellowknife, from the Giant               evidence from recent chemical                   the use of the product would
Gold Mine was contacted. When             publications, all agencies                      result in any human health or
asked “should we concern                  involved: Ministry of Forest and                environmental adverse effects.
ourselves with these injections?”         R a n g e ( Pe r m i t a p p l i c a n t ) ;       The following efforts were
he immediately replied “Yes”.             Ministry of Environment; and                    then undertaken:
  He advised that recent scien-           the branch of Health Canada                     ! An appeal was made to the
tific findings completely                 which deals with the registra-                     Environmental Appeal Board
changed our views on arsenic              tion or approval of pesticides,                    in 2002 with the help of the
toxicity. The “old” assumptions           the Pesticide Management                           West Coast Environmental
that organic arsenic was less             Regulatory Agency or PMRA                          Legal Society and Dr. Cullen
toxic than inorganic arsenic and          were approached. All agencies                      as expert witness. The appeal
that the methylation process              were thankful for the informa-                     was lost because it couldn’t
was a form of detoxification, no          tion. The provincial ones said                     be proven that the injections
longer held. In fact, it was now          they were unable to assess the                     were going to result in
                                                                                                                 Continued on page 12

 THE LOG          F R I E N D S O F E C O L O G I C A L R E S E RV E S N E W S L E T T E R          WINTER 2008                   11
“The MSMA Story”.....continued from page 11

  environmental damage.
! A Judicial Review of the
  Appeal decision by the BC
  Supreme Court was success-
  ful. The Judge established that
  the Appeal Board had the duty
  to consider new scientific
  findings when those findings
  had appeared after federal
  registration or re-registration
! A complaint was lodged with
  the Environment and
  Sustainable Development
  Commissioner against Health
  Canada’s position, which
  included Dr. Cullen’s criti-
  cisms of their statements. This
  was a frustrating exercise
  because the Commissioner
                                                            "Axe frill", which is a cut in the tree where the product was injected
  did not look at the validity of
  Health Canada’s responses                      trees in her backyard, contrary                  MMAA (monomethyl arsonic
  and but only with the fact that                to what was indicated in the                     acid) in three species of wood-
  there were responses within 3                  permit application that injec-                   peckers (range 0.05-2.14 μg/g
  months of the questions                        tions were to take place in                      dw, geometric mean 0.16) and
  being asked.                                   remote and inaccessible areas,                   Mountain Chickadees (range
! A complaint against Canfor                     registered a complaint with the                  0.02-2.20 geometric mean
  ISO 14001 certification was                    Forest Practices Board in 2003.                  0.21). Seventy-nine percent of
  lodged because the logging                        Among other recommenda-                       the blood samples were above
  company wanted to burn the                     tions, the Board asked that the                  the 0.07 μg/g level identified as a
  contaminated bark. The                         Ministry of Forests provide a                    mean reference value for blood
  Ministry of Environment, after                 provincial policy for tracking                   arsenic in control birds. Arsenic
  much wavering , finally stated                 MSMA-treated trees to ensure                     concentrations were also ele-
  that the Canfor beehive                        that they are neither harvested                  vated in beetles and non- beetle
  burner air emission permit                     nor milled. This took 5 years to                 insects, and Mountain Pine
  only allowed for the burning                   complete.                                        beetles were found alive with
  of uncontaminated wood.                           Meanwhile Environment                         high levels or arsenic.
  This led the KPMG auditor to                   Canada, informed about the                         The report concluded, in
  identify a non-conformance                     injections, carried on a 3-year                  regard to woodpeckers, that
  issue with the certification and               study culminating in the release                 “exposure to MSMA is likely
  to ask Canfor to take mea-                     of their report in 2006, Assessing               occurring and that there is
  sures to prevent the poisoned                  Forest Bird Exposure and                         potential for sublethal effects
  trees from being cut and                       Effects from Monosodium                          including mass loss and
  processed, ultimately prevent-                 Methanearsonate (MSMA)                           reduced growth under current
  ing them from being burned                     during the Mountain Pine                         environmental conditions” and
  in the beehive burners.                        Beetle Epidemic in British                       added that because most trees
  Judy Stratton, a resident of                   Columbia. The study found                        are not mapped, “the extent of
François Lake who was dis-                       elevated levels of arsenic in the                the impact to the environment
mayed to have found injected                     form of the MSMA metabolite
                                                                                                                         Continued on page 13

12          THE LOG               F R I E N D S O F E C O L O G I C A L R E S E RV E S N E W S L E T T E R           WINTER 2008
“MSMA Story”.....continued from page 12
                                               adding more!                                 should not be cut, removed,
remains unknown.”                                 It is only because the manu-              milled and/or burned. They
   As late as 2004, while prelimi-             facturer of the pesticide, the               should be conspicuously
nary results from the                          large American agro-business                 marked. They can be incorpo-
Environment Canada study                       United Agri-Product did not                  rated into leave areas and
were starting to come in, PMRA                 seek re-registration in Canada in            wildlife tree patches.
still maintained that MSMA is                  2004, that the product was no                   The website took one year to
“… unlikely to harm wildlife.                  longer used. However, it still               implement and is available at:
In the 33 years since MSMA was                 took a lot of vigilance to prevent 
first registered in Canada, there              the use of its stockpiles in BC              alth/MSMA.htm. The maps were
have not been any reported                     after the product was no longer              posted on the site in October
wildlife incidents. The lack of                registered.                                  2008 without landmarks.
reported incidents in Canada is                   In 2006, the US-EPA de-                      The research took 2 years to
attributed to the precise and                  registered the product on the                be undertaken; soil and vegeta-
restricted application of MSMA                 grounds of elevated cancer risk              tion sampling around the
and the consequent small                       to humans from contaminated                  poisoned trees were conducted
contribution of arsenic relative               drinking water alone and eco-                last August. Results of their
to background concentra-                       logical risks to non granivorous             analysis for arsenic content are
tions.” (Petition No. 97 to the                terrestrial mammals and birds.               due mid-March 2009.
Commissioner on the                               This brings us to the asepti-                Agencies’ failures are glaring
Environment and Sustainable                    cally named “toxic legacy”,                  throughout this sad story. PMRA
Development, March 4, 2004).                   which means the legacy of the                made repeated mistakes in its
   The agency continued to                     poisoned forest. A multi-                    evaluation which have incurred
discount the ground-breaking                   stakeholder meeting (Ministry                tremendous costs (both finan-
scientific findings of 1999-2000               of Forest, Ministry of                       cial as well as human and eco-
by a team including Dr. Cullen                 Environment, Environment                     logical) to British Columbians.
“although the findings [of Dr.                 Canada, PMRA, Canfor, Houston                   It has been impossible to
Cullen’s team] are potentially                 Forest Products, and 3 members               estimate the total number of
important, these findings are                  of the public) was convened in               trees injected over the 20 years
not substantially new in the                   Smithers in January 2007. A                  of use of MSMA in BC, because
context of our existing knowl-                 consensus decision was made                  records were not kept.
edge of arsenic”. (Richard                     centered around three points:                Environment Canada did a
Aucoin, A/Chief Registrar in a                                                              rough estimate of 500,000 trees,
letter to Josette Wier, July 18,               1. A policy on how to deal with
                                                  the toxic legacy had to be                mostly in the Merritt and Morice
2001).                                                                                      Forest District. It is very likely
   PMRA stuck by this decision                    urgently issued;
                                               2. Research gaps needed to be                that many of those trees have
for the following 5 years,                                                                  been cut, milled and burned
satisfied to rely on an outdated                  addressed and the policy
                                                  revisited 2 years after issu-             and there has been risk of
commissioned study by a veteri-                                                             arsenic exposure to loggers, mill
narian, F. N. Dost, February                      ance with the research
                                                  results.                                  workers and communities in
1995 “Public Health and                                                                     close proximity to beehive
Environmental Impacts of                       3 A website including maps
                                                  and a database of the treated             burners.
MSMA as used in Bark Beetle                                                                    In 2004, a logger phoned me
Control in BC.” They kept                         areas should be posted on
                                                  the Ministry of Forests and               anonymously to let me know
repeating that total arsenic was a                                                          that he had been diagnosed with
relevant indicator and there was                  Range website.
                                                 The policy was issued 6                    arsenicosis. He could not give
so much arsenic in the Canadian                                                             his name because he was afraid
environment that one should                    months later in July 2007. It
not worry about the effects of                 states that the poisoned trees
                                                                                                             Continued on page 14

 THE LOG               F R I E N D S O F E C O L O G I C A L R E S E RV E S N E W S L E T T E R     WINTER 2008               13
“MSMA Story”.....continued from page 13           “Forage Fish Matter”.....continued from page 10

of reprisals and not being able to
find another job if he com-
plained. He had cut about 200
treated trees and worked
around a fire of contaminated
branches. After months of                                                       Surf smelt (Hypomesus pretiosus)
undefined symptoms of fatigue,
skin redness and pain in his legs,                populations would be                              conservation of coastal
his doctor did a urine analysis                   negatively impacted, which                        ecosystems.
for arsenic which showed high                     would be deleterious for the                        If you are a Warden of an
levels. Unfortunately the South                   fishing industry as well as for                   Ecological Reserve that has
African doctor went back to                       populations of marine                             gravel or sand beaches and are
South Africa, and this case was                   mammals, such as the killer                       willing to do the beach sediment
not pursued any further. I will                   whale (Orcinus orca). [See story                  sampling necessary for such a
continue to advocate for arsenic                  on page 3] Loss of forage fish                    study, we encourage you to
exposure research to be done in                   would cripple the marine food                     contact Ramona de Graaf at:
the communities at risk.                          web.                                    
   Finally and not least, environ-                   The important role that these
mental costs have yet to be                       forage fish have in the marine                    References
assessed. We know about the                       food web and in human                             [1] www.foragefishmatter.blogspot.
contamination of woodpeckers,                     commercial endeavor has                           com
chickadees and secondary                          created a need for information                    [2]
insects. A lot more needs to be                                                                     foragefish/foragefish.htm
                                                  regarding the breeding range of                   [3]
done.                                             the Pacific sand lance and the                    underwater_sous-marin/SandLance/
                                                  surf smelt on Southern                            sandlanc-eng.htm
                                                  Vancouver Island. As such, a                      [4]
“Salmon Forest Research”...cont’d. from page 5    study is currently under way to                   [5]
                                                  determine if either species                       pacific.htm
between the ocean and the                         breeds along Taylor Beach in                      [6]
forests in coastal British                        Metchosin [2]. In this study,                     watersheds/index.shtml
Columbia.                                         Metchosin residents, led by                       [7]
  This ongoing research                           marine biologist Ramona de                        [8]
program would not have been                                                                         pugetsound/species/smelt.html
                                                  Graaf are sampling gravel along                   [9]
possible without the assistance                   transects in the intertidal zone                  foragefish/foragefishvecpaper.pdf
of the Friends, the logistic                      for Pacific sand lance and surf                   [10]
support from Raincoast as well                    smelt eggs [2]. A similar study is                surf_smelt.htm
as the earlier support from the                   also planned for beaches along                    [11]
David Suzuki Foundation. I am                                                                       msap/PS/masterlist/fish/surfsmelt.html
                                                  the Saanich Peninsula, which                      [12]
greatly indebted for your                         will be conducted by the                          DocREC/2002/RES2002_115e.pdf
continued confidence in this                      Peninsula Streams Society in                      [13]
program and hope that the                         partnership with Shorekeepers                     msap/PS/masterlist/fish/pacificsandlan
ongoing research and results                      and any other interested parties                  ce.html
provide for a more ecologically                   [6]. Both studies are being
informed evaluation of our                        undertaken not only to gather
impact on the planet.                             information about these
                                                  important species, but also to                      Visit our website at:
                                                  further public awareness of the          
                                                  species in an effort to foster
14          THE LOG                F R I E N D S O F E C O L O G I C A L R E S E RV E S N E W S L E T T E R         WINTER 2008
                                        Box 8477 Stn Central, Victoria, BC V8W 3S1
                                    Renewal for 2009                                     New membership
Membership Category

     Individual: $20                    Student/Senior: $15                      Family: $25                      Institution: $25

NAME (please print)                                                                                  Date


                                                                                    Postal Code

PHONE (         )                                                                   E-Mail

                                                                                 I am interested in volunteering for:
I/we enclose Payment for:
                                                                                     Assisting with Field Trip organization
    year(s) membership                                $
                                                                                     Contributing articles/photos to The LOG
Donation                                              $                              Fund-Raising            Telephoning       Other
    copy(ies) Constitution & Bylaws @ $1 each         $                          Please apply my donation to:
TOTAL ENCLOSED:                                       $                              Land acquisition projects
                                                                                     Scholarships for post-graduate research
             Tax receipts issued for donations of $20 or more
                     (Charitable BIN#118914597RR)                                    Where most needed

                                                                    ORDER FORM FOR PLACEMATS
                                                      Placemats – $5.00 each

                                                      Interior Grasslands            Douglas Fir             Garry Oak        Alpine Flowers
                                                     * Non-profit Group Volume Discount (10 or more) $4.00 each

                                                     Name (please print)


                                                                                                        Postal Code

                                                     Phone (       )                                    E-mail

                                                                DESCRIPTION                                           UNIT PRICE        TOTAL

                                                     Shipping, Handling and Postage for Placemat Orders                                  $4.00

                                                     Total Enclosed (Cheque or Money Order)                                              $

THE LOG              F R I E N D S O F E C O L O G I C A L R E S E RV E S N E W S L E T T E R                         WINTER 2008                15
                      Farewell Mike and Carol!
L    ong time Eco Guardians of
     R ace Rocks Ecological
Reserve retired in December
                                          many guests and students over
                                          the last 11 years.
                                              Among Mike’s many duties,
2008.                                     was the collection of sea water
    Mike and Carol Slater had             samples daily, an hour before
lived on Race Rocks since the             high tide no matter the weather!
mid 80s. They were the                    The samples are tested for
lighthouse keepers until 1997             salinity and the temperature is
when the lighthouse became                recorded. This data has been
automated. They were asked to             kept since the early 1900s.                       Friends of Ecological
stay on as the Eco Guardians                  Carol was an effective                               Reserves
under a two-year agreement                spokesperson for the wildlife in                 PO Box 8477 Stn Central
between Lester B. Pearson                 the Ecological Reserve. She held                  Victoria, BC V8W 3S1
College and the Coast Guard.              strong views about the need to
Race Rocks was to be used as an           live in harmony with the nature                           Email:
Education Centre. Ten years               that surrounds Race Rocks.             
later, Pearson College is still               Together Mike and Carol                              Website:
managing the island on a long-            have left many happy memories           
term lease from the actual land           for students and staff of Lester B.                  Charitable Tax#
owners, the Provincial                    Pearson College.                                      118914597RR
Government. Race Rocks is now                 Ryan Murphy joined the staff
a Provincial Ecological Reserve           at Pearson College in December                  Printed on recycled paper.
with the Coast Guard still                and is now the Eco Guardian
maintaining a sliver of land              and resident marine scientist at
which includes the lighthouse             Race Rocks. Check out Ryan’s
itself.                                   photographs posted on the Race                  Please share and/or recycle.
    Mike and Carol Slater have            Rocks website!
been hosts to much change and   

     Return Address                                                                               Canadian Publications Mail
                                                                                                   Agreement No. 40020740

     Friends of
Ecological Reserves
   PO Box 8477
    Stn Central
    Victoria, BC
      V8W 3S1

16          THE LOG        F R I E N D S O F E C O L O G I C A L R E S E RV E S N E W S L E T T E R     WINTER 2008

To top