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Eelgrass mappers back to talk nearshore issues
With a detailed eelgrass inventory on the books, a pair of community groups offer a conversation on nearshore.
The Community Association of Oak Bay and Friends of Uplands Park offer Oak Bay’s Nearshore Marine Environment Challenges and Opportunities, a free community discussion.
“Oak Bay is surrounded on two sides, from Gonzales Bay to Cadboro Bay by the Salish Sea,” said Rick Marshall, of the community association.
“With climate change it’s getting closer … one of the things we talk about is the effect of climate change on sea levels and ecology.”
The event features a presentation from Leanna Boyer and Nikki Wright of SeaChange Marine Conservation Society, who recently completed an eelgrass study for the municipality.
“Eelgrass is an indicator and it means a lot to the fish and other species. We wanted them to talk more about the nearby ecology,” Marshall said.
That’s a message SeaChange tries to integrate in people’s minds, says Boyer, that eelgrass works alongside other critical underwater ecosystems, kelp beds and sandy beaches critical for a variety of species.
“We’ll be doing a short presentation on the eelgrass mapping that we did but also talk about the nearshore as a whole, other habitats that are just as important,” Boyer said.
“Then we’ll talk about what we do that impacts the nearshore both directly as boaters and as a community. People have probably heard a lot about storm water and what we can do in our homes.”
Among the much-discussed actions are reducing pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer use and increasing surfaces that are porous to filter rainwater.
“What we do in our house with detergents and micro plastics that get out in the larger ocean impacts the larger ocean,” she said.
“We can do things, most of the impacts come from the land so we can as communities and individuals make different decisions about what we do.”
After the presentation, a panel include Sara Stallard of Fish-Kissing Weasels Environmental who has studied storm water in the region, and Dr. Rob Macdonald, retired from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and environmental consultant.
“He studies pollutants and what they do to the marine environment,” Boyer said.
The community groups plan to present a session next month that looks at the shoreline environment.
The Community Association of Oak Bay and Friends of Uplands Park present Oak Bay’s Nearshore Marine Environment Challenges and Opportunities Feb. 11 from 2 to 4 p.m. in Windsor Park Pavilion.