Floating Ideas

Join us once a month for our evening lecture series and find out what’s new in marine science from the experts! Free to members and annual pass holders, regular admission rates apply. Lectures begin at 7:00pm (Doors open at 6:30pm).

Fall 2018 Lectures:

October 16: Ecosystems on the Edge – Restoring Coastal Sand Ecosystem on Sidney Island 

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Sidney Spit, in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, protects a significant example of rare coastal sand ecosystem, a dynamic environment where marine and terrestrial influences meet. Coastal sand ecosystems support rare plants and animals that depend on open sand habitat to survive, including the contorted-pod evening-primrose, silky beach pea and common nighthawk.  In recent times, introduced invasive plants, such as Scotch broom and European beach grass, have crowded out the native species and stabilized the shifting sands, threatening this rare ecosystem and its species at risk. In 2016, Parks Canada initiated a project to restore a key portion of coastal sand ecosystem on Sidney Spit, through removing invasive plants with the help of dedicated volunteers, augmenting rare plant populations, and enhancing visitor facilities and learning opportunities. Learn more about Parks Canada’s steps to save this ecosystem and the extraordinary response of the rare plants at the site! 

Pippi Lawn has worked for Parks Canada as a resource management specialist since 2006. Prior to this, she worked in mangrove forests and marine areas in Australia, using marine and intertidal plants to assess changes in ecosystem health. Since joining Parks Canada, she has led a variety of monitoring and restoration projects in national parks on both coasts, including Kouchibouguac National Park in New Brunswick, the Species at Risk section of Coastal BC and, most recently, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, with a special focus on vegetation, invasive species, species at risk, and plants as indicators of ecosystem health.

November 14: What doesn’t go bump in the night? Bats of the Salish Sea

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Going batty? Join Parks Canada scientists for an evening learning about bats. Bats are fascinating mammals and one of the most often misunderstood animals on Earth. Bats play an important role in our ecosystems by consuming large numbers of nocturnal flying insects. There are at least 10 species of bats on Southern Vancouver Island, including many species at risk.  While there are many reasons why bat species are of conservation concern — including habitat loss and disturbance of roost sites — the single greatest threat to bats is white-nose syndrome. Bat populations in eastern North America have plummeted due to the fungus which is rapidly spreading westward. Over the past two years, Parks Canada researchers have established bat monitoring programs in our in Coastal BC national parks and historic sites as part of the North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat). We will share some of the findings from this research, along with some things you can do to help bats.

Aimee Pelletier is a Species at Risk Engagement Officer with Parks Canada and has worked for Parks Canada for 9 years, focusing on Garry Oak ecosystem restoration and recovery of species at risk (mainly plants) in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and at Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites. For the past two years, Aimee has focused on public outreach that helps Canadians learn about and connect with rare ecosystems and species in Coastal BC, including endangered bats such as the Little Brown Myotis! As Parks Canada's very own "Bat Woman" Aimee loves dressing up as a bat and leading evening bat walks where she uses a special microphone to listen for the echolocation calls of bats in real time!

Kyle Nelson is a member of Gulf Islands National Park Reserve's Ecological Integrity team. He helped establish the park reserve's bat monitoring program in 2017 and has led the project ever since. He has worked for Parks Canada for four years, starting in the Canadian Rockies before joining the Gulf Islands team in 2017. In addition to his work with Parks Canada, he is pursuing a Master's degree at the University of Victoria looking at the migration activity of bats in the southern Gulf Islands.  

December 10: Diving Back in Time: Conservation at the Interface of Indigenous knowledge and Ecology

Yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) are a marine species of immense ecological, economic, and cultural value. The fish, which can live more than a century, are relied upon by commercial, recreational, and First Nations fishers alike. Like many species valued by multiple user groups, yelloweye rockfish have faced massive stock declines in British Columbia throughout the last century.

Coastal Indigenous Peoples worldwide have relied on fish and other marine resources for millennia, and continue to do so despite recent degradation of ocean systems by external forces. Their Indigenous knowledge and law, comprised of experiences, observations, beliefs, and lifeways, is relevant for modern marine management and conservation. In BC, Coastal First Nations are in the process of developing proprietary Marine Use Plans, that combine Indigenous knowledge with independently conducted ecological studies to inform local marine management decisions.

One key hurdle to managing yelloweye rockfish is a dearth of baseline data — no fishery-independent data is available for the species prior to 2002, confounding the setting of meaningful management and conservation goals. In partnership with the Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Wuikinuxv, Nuxalk, and Heiltsuk First Nations, our narrative endeavors to overcome these data limitations and inform management and conservation of yelloweye rockfishes by interweaving Indigenous knowledge and scientific data towards fuller understanding of the species. Ultimately, we documented important historical changes in yelloweye rockfish size and abundance, and emphasize the value of Indigenous-led management.

Lauren Eckert: Lauren is a conservation scientist, adventure enthusiast, and Ph.D. student in the Applied Conservation Science lab at the University of Victoria. Her undergraduate career, which provided the privilege of ecological field experiences around the globe, exposed her to the complexities of interrelated social and ecological systems, and motivated her to delve into conservation science that upholds Indigenous knowledge and rights. Her recent work at the interface of social and ecological sciences aims to value local and Indigenous knowledge systems alongside empirical scientific studies using a community-engaged, Indigenous-led approach to conservation. Lauren completed her M.Sc. in a partnership led by the Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Wuikinuxv, and Nuxalk First Nations on the Central Coast of British Columbia, Canada to contribute to their marine conservation strategies. Specifically, they examined how groundfish populations have changed over the last century in these territories, and how this information can inform management decisions by these Nations. Lauren began her Ph.D in 2017, continuing work at the University of Victoria with the intention of sustaining long-term partnerships with First Nations on the Central Coast. She is also a Raincoast Conservation Fellow and a National Geographic Explorer.