Fundraiser takes flight for South Africa seabird conference

  • Aug. 5, 2015 7:00 a.m.

By Evelyn von AlmassyHaida Gwaii ObserverThe Laskeek Bay Conservation Society is fundraising to send Vivian Pattison, camp supervisor of Limestone Island and biologist for the Laskeek Bay Conservation Society, to attend the Second Seabird Conference in Capetown, South Africa, which will be happening October 26 to the 30, 2015. Ms. Pattison will be giving a poster board presentation on the citizen science and education that the society has been doing for 26 years. Citizen science is the scientific work that members of the general public do, often in collaboration with professional scientists, for the good of the wider community. The research that the society does on seabirds is important, as seabirds, whether they are thriving or in distress, are an indicator of ocean health. When the Cassin’s Auklets washed up on beaches from Haida Gwaii to California last December, scientists were eager to discover why, as the causes told them what was happening in the ocean. One of the other timely topics at the conference will be the functional responses of seabirds to prey depletion. Ms. Pattison is excited about attending the conference.”I think it’s going to be really inspiring to be around a lot of people who are interested in talking about seabirds.” It is the society’s 26th field season, which works from the base camp on East Limestone Island. Since 1990 they have hosted over 800 students, teachers and chaperones. Their program is regularly mentioned at high school graduations and in yearbooks as a highlight of the student experience, and some have gone on to study biology and returned to volunteer and work for them as young graduates. One of the many seabirds that are monitored by the staff and volunteers are the ancient murrelets; 50 percent of the world’s population nests on Haida Gwaii. They are famous for being the only type of seabirds in which the young are raised entirely at sea. Many students have stayed up all night to catch and weigh the ancient murrelet chicks which are funnelled through tubes on their way to the ocean, to their waiting parents.Five years ago biologists Ainsley Brown and Jake Pattison, had presented a poster presentation at the First World Seabird Conference, which was held in Victoria, B.C., on behalf of the Laskeek Bay Conservation Society.For the fundraising for the conference attendance, there are a number of art items at the Queen Charlotte Visitor Centre that are part of a loonie/toonie auction, which will be drawn on August 3rd. People can also make direct donations at the Queen Charlotte Northern Savings Credit Union for this fundraiser. Keith Moore, founding director of the society will also be attending the conference, and once Ms.Pattison’s expenses are covered, any monies will be earmarked for his expenses. He will be giving a presentation on 25 years of citizen science and 25 years in the life of an ancient murrelet colony. “I’ll be focusing on the biology and the up’s and down’s of the ancient murrelet,” he said. There aren’t any organizations that have been around as long as Laskeek. Mr. Moore is looking forward to sharing the information about sea birds that the society has collected over that time. In addition to the conference fundraiser, general fundraising for the day-to-day operations of the society will begin with the sale of greeting cards, newly designed T-shirts and recycled T-shirts at the Tlell Fall Fair, on August 2.

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