Intertidal zone one of many marine wonders

  • Jul. 4, 2008 5:00 p.m.

Submitted by Gwaii Haanas-Exploring Haida Gwaii includes much more than visiting the new Haida Heritage Centre at Qay Llnagaay, hearing the swoosh of water at the base of Tow Hill, or watching bald eagles swoop and perform death-defying acrobatics overhead. No island adventure is complete until you’ve seen the greatest collection of technicolour creatures on earth. To observe this jaw-dropping assortment, you need to look down. Not where you’re standing now. Find a beach at low tide – here you’ll find the intertidal zone.This area is literally located between low tide and high tide. As Jim Lynch begins his novel, The Highest Tide, “if you tell people what you see at low tide they’ll think you’re exaggerating or lying when you’re actually just explaining strange and wonderful things as clearly as you can. You’d have to be a scientist, a poet and a comedian to hope to describe it all accurately, and even then you’d often fall short.”A few weeks ago Clint Johnson Kendrick, a Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve Warden and his partner, Patrol Officer Billy Yovanovich, rediscovered this world along the seashore. A discarded seven inch-long shell piqued their curiosity. Later they found what looked like small elephant trunks sticking out of the sand and rock along the beach. They had come across some geoducks (Panopea abrupta). The spelling of this clam’s name is quite confusing, as it is pronounced “gooey-duck”. The name and pronunciation comes from the Nisqually First Nation (Puget Sound area), and means “dig deep” -referring to the metre or so down you’d have to dig to get to this clam’s shell. The geoduck extends two siphons up through the sand to reach the water where it feeds on algae. These siphons are encased in what looks surprisingly like an elephant’s trunk. Geoducks can grow to an impressive 4.5 kilograms, but what is most surprising is their life expectancy. The oldest known geoduck was fished from Tasu Sound, off the west coast of Haida Gwaii, and aged at 168 years old. Often we think of “old growth” as a term referring only to trees. But, in the waters and intertidal zone of Haida Gwaii, there are a number of creatures that could be described as “old growth”, including the geoduck. This is one of the reasons why the Government of Canada is working to expand the boundary of Gwaii Haanas deep into the ocean with a National Marine Conservation Area Reserve.Geoducks support a valuable shellfish fishery, with about 65 percent, or approximately $24 million, of the commercial activity occurring within the proposed National Marine Conservation Area Reserve. Every person who spends time on Haida Gwaii develops some level of relationship to the surrounding marine environment. Some of us depend upon the marine environment for our livelihood, others regularly feed upon the bounty it provides, and then there are those who simply observe its amazing inhabitants and changing moods. A National Marine Conservation Area aims to balance these needs.This week a new publication celebrating the Gwaii Haanas marine environment, its creatures, and the relationship between people and the sea has been circulated near you. The story of Gwaii Haanas Marine brings together a wealth of research, revealing complex ecosystems and the hidden lives of some amazing creatures, including geoducks!If this article interests you, keep an eye out for The story of Gwaii Haanas marine at a public place near you. Otherwise contact the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site office at 250-559-8818 for your own copy.

Just Posted

Masset fishing derby proves to be a catch

All ages participated in the competition to bring in the top salmon and halibut hauls

Yarn Bombing mastermind is back in town

Big Canada Day longweekend in the works

Maritime Museum project receives legacy grant

A special project of the Dixon Entrance Maritime Museum Society has been… Continue reading

Richardson Ranch celebrating 100 years of family and ranching in Haida Gwaii

Tlell Polled Hereford’s continue to win awards while the ranch becomes a popular spot for visitors

Sustainble economy flourishing in Haida Gwaii and Great Bear Rainforest thanks to First Nations investments

From 2008-2018, funding initiatives led to more than $286 million in new investments

First ever Nisga’a mortuary totem pole unveiled in Prince Rupert cemetery on Father’s Day weekend

The pole was unveiled at Fairview Cemetery in honour of the late Robert Tait, renowned carver

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Horgan says he’ll still defend B.C. coast after second Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, one B.C. First Nation has announced plans for a legal challenge

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Grieving B.C. mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

B.C.’s measles vaccination program gains traction in May

More than 15,000 doses of the MMR vaccine has been administered across the province

B.C. farmers concerned Agricultural Land Reserve changes choking their livelihood

Dozens voice concerns at special meeting hosted on Vancouver Island

UPDATE: Two-year-old involved in Chilliwack pool drowning has died

Toddler was reported to not be breathing as air ambulance called out Thursday afternoon

Family frustrated Terrace dad with advanced cancer must wait weeks for treatment

‘We can see his health declining every day,’ daughter says

Most Read