This has been a busy busy week…on Sunday I arrived at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Center in Bamfield, BC.
Bamfield is on the outer west coast of Vancouver Island, and is one of my favourite places.
I wouldn’t call this place ‘untouched’ per se…after all, Bamfield got started as a fishing and logging town! It’s definitely wild though, especially compared with the hubub of some of the nearby major cities; namely Victoria, Nanaimo, and Vancouver. On any given day above the water, you could see bears, deer, bald eagles…or if you’re very fortunate, a breaching humpback or grey whale! Below the water there is truly amazing marine life…I always find that the fish and invertebrates out here are much bigger than they are in the waters of the Salish Sea. Particularly exciting for me are sightings of Ratfish and abalone; two species that you just don’t see that much of in some of the more easily accessible dive sites within driving distance of Vancouver.
I’m here to continue working on research for my Master’s project…I’m studying small intertidal snails for my thesis, which I am hoping to defend sometime in the next 2 months. My work involves a lot of kayaking and hiking to get to my field sites…and then I lie on the ground with my nose pressed against the barnacle-covered rocks to make my observations. But with some of the views I get, it’s pretty hard to complain. Too bad these little guys don’t hang out deeper though…they’re exposed by the tide every day, so no diving required! Makes the research easier from a logistics standpoint, but it’s hard to not tailor a project such that I get in more time beneath the waves.
Sure beats sitting at a desk!
The first time I came to Bamfield was in 2006 with a class field trip for an invertebrate biology course I took during my undergraduate degree. To get an idea of how much I liked it…I came back for 12 weeks of intensive field classes in the summer of 2007, and I haven’t looked back. One of the best experiences I had out here revolved around a 3-week course in 2010; Scientific Diving. By the end of it I was certified to dive for scientific research (see http://www.caus.ca/pages/pages.php?id=6 for more details), and I had improved my skills immensely. In just under 3 weeks we did 27 dives; we learned different techniques for carrying out research underwater, designed and carried out our own independent research project, and got certified as REEF level 2 surveyors (see http://www.reef.org/ for more details). If you have any interest in diving for research, I would strongly recommend a course like this one, though you can also be trained ‘on the job’ by someone with the right certifications.
If you’re interested in doing some diving out in Bamfield, I strongly recommend Broken Island Adventures: http://www.brokenislandadventures.com/
For more information about undergraduate programs offered at BMSC: http://www.bms.bc.ca/university.html
For more information about scientific diving, check out this blog from my dive buddy during the course: http://coldwaterdiver.net/category/scientific-diving/