Robson Bight Beach Cleanup #2

Thanks to 23 dedicated whale watchers/researchers, young naturalists, Cetus Society and B.C. Parks the second Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve/Boat Bay Conservancy beach cleanup was a huge success!

The team set out at 8am from Telegraph Cove on the Gikumi (thanks to Jim and Mary Borrowman) and headed to the Bight for low tide. We split into 4 groups: Team Chum, Team Nudribranchs, Team Nahwitti and Team Gumboot Chitons. Using Jim’s skiff we tackled 5 beaches as well as the beautiful Tsitika estuary within the Robson Bight Reserve. We refueled with a delicious lunch as we made our way to the Boat Bay/Qwiquallaaq conservancy. We only had time to scour one large beach here, as it can be very tricky working with tide & boats. This beach was the worst, we noticed this last year as well. It acts as a catch for the huge south easterlies that hit Johnstone Strait during the winter months and collects a ton of garbage! We collected as much as we could handle. On our journey home we saw many northern resident orca including the A30s, I15s, A8s and A36s, they were all foraging for chum salmon and had a lot to say to each other….thanks to Nicole Koshure for the audio clip!

It’s kind of ironic to call the beach clean up a success when the goal is to collect as much garbage as possible. Getting the garbage off the beaches helps to reduce threats to the marine life that inhabit our local waters. Marine debris can pose a threat to birds, fish and mammals that accidentally consume garbage, as they may think it is food or may become entangled in the ropes & lines. In fact BC elephant seals have been recovered with Styrofoam in their stomachs and a grey whale recently recovered in Washington State had gallons of marine debris in its stomach, including a golf ball, plastic bags and sweat pants.

We left feeling both satisfied and frustrated as we had cleaned a few of our local Northern Vancouver Island beaches, yet we had only scratched the surface. At least we were able to clear the beaches of debris within the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve (, which was established in 1982 to protect northern resident killer whale critical habitat.

Audio Clip – A30s,I15s,A8s,A36s

Please remember it is important to clean up the garbage on any beach so next time your strolling along the beach pick up a piece or two of garbage, or maybe plan a beach clean up in your neighbourhood (Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup:, every little bit help!

Thanks to the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup we had some very handy data sheets to record what we found.
Here’s our list:
– TONS of Styrofoam
– Rope, rope & more rope!!!
– An entire fishing net
– Plastic water bottles
– Tires
– Plastic crates
– Plastic buckets
– PVC pipe
– Plastic bags
– Cigarettes/filters
– Tobacco wrappers
– Metal
– Buoys/floats
– Oil bottles
– Clothing
– Shoes, Crocs
– Food wrappers
– Shotgun shells
– Straws
– Carb trap
– Pallets
– Toilet seat
– Propane bottle
– Tampon applicators
– Plastic, plastic and more plastic….little bits of plastic everywhere: bottle lids, lighters, kids toys

Many thanks to all the volunteers that helped us today, we could NOT have done it without you!!!
Orcella Expeditions:
– Jim Borrowman
– Mary Borrowman
– 2 Germans volunteers
Pacific Orca Society/Orcalab:
– Helena Symonds
– Leah Robinson
Cetus Research & Conservation Society:
– Megan Baker
– Leah Thorpe
– Nic Dedeluk
– Nicole Koshure
– Marie Fournier
– Jake Etzhorn
– Derek Harnanansingh
Young Naturalists Club of BC, Northern Vancouver Island :
– Emma Mitchell
– Cameron Grant
– Paige Aoki
– Liam Aoki
– Rebecca Griffith
Marine Education and Research Society (MERS):
– Jackie Hildering
Namgis First Nation :
– Ernest Alfred
BC Parks Staff :
– Jim Spowart
– Jessie Paloposki
Stubbs Island Whale Watching:
– Roger McDonell
Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures :
– Andrew Jones

Shorelines Under Threat – Tsunami Debris
Our next cleanup may be a challenging one due to the devastating tsunami that struck Japan in the spring of 2011, which swept up to 25 million tons of debris into our oceans. Officials estimate that as much as 1.5 million tons of it could wash up on our BC shores.
Tsunami debris has already started to land along the west coast of North America. Although it is unknown exactly when, where, and how much debris will wash up over time, it carries with it potentially devastating effects, such as damaging delicate aquatic ecosystems, introducing invasive species, and polluting our waterways. To learn more, visit the BC Tsunami Debris website:

Additional Information
Algalita Marine Research Foundation:
5 Gyres: Understanding Plastic Marine Pollution:
Global Garbage:
The Canadian Plastics Industry Association:
Electronic Product Stewardship Canada:
Ocean Conservancy: Start a Sea Change:
Marine Debris in BC Coastal Waters, Raincoast Conservation Foundation:

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