Eelgrass Restoration and Stewardship
Long Weekend Warriors Save Sea Life! July 2008 Eelgrass Transplant
Flippers and fins are clapping and flapping for joy! We had over 50 volunteers help plant 2000 eelgrass shoots into our Cowichan Bay! We had volunteer divers, boat drivers, marine rescue crews and eelgrass shoot preps on land!
Call it “underwater eco-gardening”; “environmental stewardship; “salmon enhancement” or “social time” – whatever suits your style. What is really important is that representatives from a mix of different interest groups worked together and this is the key to a successful restoration project.
Despite the hot holiday fever of the Canada Day long weekend, CCLT volunteers took the time out of their precious weekend to help recover lost eelgrass beds. Eelgrass is a marine plant that serves as a nursery and food source for almost all marine species during one stage of their lifecycle. These CCLT volunteers demonstrated the dedication and enthusiasm necessary to successfully jump-start the restoration of eelgrass habitat.
Community minded locals who came to save sea life included: grandmothers, young naturalists, local businesses, Somenos Marsh Society members, professional anglers, a forest industry manager, biologists and a mother-son diving duo. Huddled under the shade of tarps, 2000 anchors made out of iron rings were attached to eelgrass shoots on June 28th and 29th at the Hecate Park boat launch. Anchors will hold the eelgrass roots in place underground and give them a chance to establish and spread.
The underwater marine life will surely ‘rejoice’ when they see their new homes that were planted to help bring back hundreds of different sea creatures.
On Saturday, several volunteers stayed longer than they had originally signed up for, enjoying the personal satisfaction of knowing they are contributing to bringing back a vital marine ecosystem.
SeaChange Marine Conservation Society and Precision Identification, eelgrass restoration experts, had the wonderful idea of giving Sunday’s volunteers an educational tour of the eelgrass transplant sites on the Mill Bay Marine Rescue Boat. Volunteers got the opportunity to see the crafty work of divers who planted rows of eelgrass in bunches of 10 shoots with 1 meter spacing. The eelgrass can spread by rhizomes and also by seed.
Funding for this successful eelgrass transplant came from the BC Conservation Foundation, Pacific Salmon Foundation and CVRD. SeaChange Marine Conservation Society and Precision Identification were CCLT’s expert eelgrass restoration partners who provided biological methodology and techniques.
It would be great to keep the momentum of eelgrass restoration in Cowichan Bay flowing along and to continue increasing our community involvement. CCLT is now actively looking for funding and local support to continue monitoring and transplanting eelgrass in Cowichan Bay.
Partners and Community Support for the Eelgrass Project include:
- Cowichan Valley Naturalists Society (CVNS)
- Tom Rutherford, Community Advisor, DFO
- Public Conservation Assistance Fund
- Rob Russell, Habitat Biologist, DFO
- Seagrass Conservation Working Group
- Duncan Divers
- Dr. Bill Austin, Khoyatan Marine Laboratory
- Cowichan Bay Kayak and Paddlesports
- Pacific Water Sports, Cowichan Bay
- Cowichan Tribes
- Cowichan River Stewardship Roundtable
- Peter Law, Ecosystem Biologist, MoE
- Cowichan Valley Regional District
- Cowichan Bay Improvement Association
- Cowichan Estuary Preservation Society
- Young Naturalists Streamkeepers
- Environmental Club, Frances Kelsey High School
- Environmental Club, Shawnigan Lake School
- Queen Margaret School Streamkeepers
- Koksilah School Streamkeepers
- CVRD Electoral Area D (Cowichan Bay) Parks and Recreation Commission