Programme Archive

Mayne Island Conservancy Society

Project Archive

Richard Iredale and his Dancers - May Day 2009Richard Iredale's Morris Dancers at May Day, 2009
Photo credit:Tom Hobley

Project Outline

As a successor to the Eelgrass Mapping and and the Pacific Sand Lance Projects launched in November 2008 with a grant from the VanCity Savings ENVIRO Fund, the Shoreline Care Project will direct the same energy and expertise into the definition of littoral kelp beds and an investigation into the spawning range of surf smelt and other forage fish. At the same time the MICS team will continue to monitor the appearance of sand lance spawning and the health and vigor of the Eelgrass in many of the bays on Mayne Island.

The Conservancy has developed a process for mapping eelgrass in the limited visibility and under the difficult tidal conditions often obtaining in Mayne Island bays. The work of freedivers and GPS equipped kayakers is documented in an article by Executive Director, Leanna Boyer appearing in the July 14th 2011 edition of Island Tides. Read it here, on page 10. More details and pictures can be found below, and on our Eelgrass Mapping page.

Latest News

Miriam Isaac-Renton and Leanna Boyer began field work in mid March and the process of delineating the kelp continues into the warmer months while a "second wave" of investigative efforts will get under way in the fall. The subject areas have been gridded for examination and Leanna and Miriam are receiving assistance from many Mayne Island volunteers, as well a wonderful team of "free divers" (otherwise known as apneists) from Vancouver, who will make a return visit in July. Divers will locate the edges of beds along a transect and be accompanied on the surface by kayakers equipped with GPS locators; from multiple plots a very accurate map of the kelp beds can be created. See our Kelp & Eelgrass Page for a look at some of the maps created last year.

Meanwhile, on land, volunteers will closely grid the surf smelt spawning areas on our island beaches, with particular attention paid to the locations that were found to play host to sand lance eggs last year. Visit our Forage Fish Survey page.

We are happy to announce that we have received funding from the Vancity through the Community Project granting program ($4000) and from Capital Regional District Grant in Aid program ($2600). Along with funding from the Victoria Foundation that we received in November 2009 we will continue to map and monitor eelgrass and run surveys of forage fish spawning areas. We are also hoping to get the process of kelp mapping up and running this year.

We are also delighted to have two new interns working on the project, Chris Fretwell and Zoe Cocker. Come out to the Saturday Market’s to check out our new displays and meet the interns! See our calendar for the schedule of surf smelt surveys and come out and volunteer!

What's Next?

2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity!

Starting in January 2010 the project activities will roughly conform to the following calendar:

  • Nov. 15, 2009 to Feb. 15, 2010: Sand lance spawning habitat survey
  • May to Aug. 2010: Eelgrass habitat monitoring
  • May to Aug. 2010: Kelp mapping
  • Ongoing: Recruit volunteers for most activities
  • .
  • July to Oct.: Conduct community mapping at Saturday Market
  • Ongoing: Give presentations to the public and submit articles to raise awareness
  • Ongoing: send delegation to local Islands Trust meetings
  • Ongoing: Work with government agencies and other environmentally concerned NGO's to promote nearshore habitat conservation
  • Nov.-Dec. 2010: Write report on results to be submitted to "partner" agencies
  • .
  • Ongoing: Share data and lessons learned with other Gulf Island societies and the Seagrass Conservation Working Group
  • Ongoing: Post mapping data to be put up on the Community Mapping Network so that it is publicly available

The specific dates of activities will be posted here when available and will be distributed, together with a call for volunteers, through our eTapestry mailing list.

Mapping results will be on display at the weekly Farmers' Market beginning on the Canada Day weekend and as last year there will be an educational component featuring beach Walks & Talks involving both interested adults and school and home-school groups.

The great forage fish Egg Search will first concentrate on the areas of Horton and Campbell bays where sand lance eggs were discovered last year.

2009: Eelgrass and other seagrass species have been identified as indicators of nearshore health around the world. Up until the beginning of this project there has been Kids Count Stems in Gallagher 		Bay only coarse scale mapping (1:20,000) of eelgrass on Mayne Island. Between May and September of this year all known eelgrass beds were mapped (delineated) at a fine scale with the help of volunteers. The summer weather was good to us resulting in the participation of 30 volunteers over 30 mapping days, totalling 230 volunteer hours. The goal of mapping the entire island using GPS could not have happened without volunteers.

May 2010: The grade 4-8 class, along with volunteers, counted the intertidal eelgrass in Gallagher Bay. The afternoon's work involved counting the number of stems in plots (which were randomly located along a 60 m transect) and measuring and calculating the "Leaf Area Index." The purpose was to expose kids to the methodology of a real scientific project in marine ecology/biology. More pictures on the Education page.

July 2010: Thanks to all the volunteers that helped monitor Gallagher Bay for a second year in a row! In May the grade 4-8 class counted eelgrass shoots in the intertidal zone and we found a significant Volunteer 			Kayakersincrease in density, likely due to our warm winter. On July 17-18, 5 volunteers from the Vancouver Apneist Freediving Club delineated the bed by deploying floats. Kayakers then came along and recorded GPS points. Tom Lightfoot, Club president, organized the volunteers on the Vancouver side but was unable to make it due to illness, thanks Tom! Cynthia Durance, our scientific advisor for eelgrass, joined us this year and helped to refine the methodology.

August 2010: Conservancy kayakers with GPS in hand mapped the bull kelp beds along the shores of Mayne Island. The island's entire 45,000m shoreline was circumnavigated in order to collect the data for this project, which provides an initial map of the state of this important (see news item from the Sierra Club here) marine habitat as a baseline for future monitoring. MICS received a very high level of community participation and enthusiasm for this project, and without the many volunteer hours that were dedicated by community members it could not have taken place on such a large scale. The schedule is dictated by the tides, which means that on certain days mappers had to be up before the sun in order to be on the water as early as 5:00am. Many thanks to everyone that helped out this summer!

October 2010: Mayne Island Kelp & Eelgrass beds 2009 - 2010The summer's mapping activities have now beem compiled and plotted on an updated Eelgrass and Kelp bed map of Mayne Island - click on the thumbnail to the left to see a readable version

Meanwhile our Executive Director assisted the Sierra Club of B.C. in their 10-10-10 observantions:

"...thanks to our amazing team of volunteers who carpooled and rode their bikes to the work party. Sierra Club BC marine campaigner Colin Campbell told the fascinating story of eelgrass and climate change, and Nikki Wright explained why eelgrass is worth conserving. Leanna Boyer of Mayne Island Conservancy demonstrated how to carefully separate strands of eelgrass collected from abundant beds and weight them for planting. A diving boat, courtesy of Rockfish Divers, and two divers were on hand for the seabed part of the work."
Follow the link to see a video of the "Mudboots Party: Restoring Eelgrass Meadows" on Oct 6th. We understand that Stella helped Leanna tie eelgrass to washers:

January 2011: We are working on a kelp mapping and monitoring methodology, based on the mapping that MICS completed in the summer of 2010.This document is being prepared in collaboration with the Seagrass Conservation Working Group, and will be contributed to by other groups and experts working in the region. Once completed it will serve as a guide for other community groups on BC’s coast who wish to map and monitor canopy-forming kelps (Bull Kelp and Giant Kelp).

Softshores for Shoreline Care

A workshop on Shoreline care and conservation: Saturday February 19th, 2011 from 11 to 4:30
For full information about this opportunity to contrbuteto this important MICS Project, please visit our Stewardship page.

It’s Time to Hit the Beach! Every wonder what that green strap-like plant is that grows in shallow areas of sandy beaches? It’s very likely eelgrass! This very special plant grows in most of our bays (mostly below the lowest tide), provides important habitat for numerous species of fish and invertebrates that provide food for birds, large fish and mammals. Pacific sand lance and birds such as the Great Blue Heron forage in eelgrass meadows. Since 2008, the Conservancy has been monitoring eelgrass beds in Miners, Gallagher and Bennett Bay to detect change over time. This work wouldn’t happen without volunteers. In the past three years 40+ different volunteers dedicated 350 hours to eelgrass monitoring. Eelgrass Monitoring Low tides in the daytime and warmer weather mean it’s time to get out and monitor eelgrass. For a second year running Jessica Willow’s 4-8 grade class will assist the Conservancy with intertidal eelgrass monitoring in Gallagher Bay on May 19th. We need volunteers! Contact Leanna for details (539-5168). We will be conducting an intertidal eelgrass survey in Miners Bay on June 15th and the Vancouver Apneist Freediving Club joins us for a third year of subtidal monitoring on June 25-26. The freedivers are a blast to work with and we are looking for volunteers to buddy up with divers in their kayaks. Contact Leanna if you are interested in volunteering. Beach Program Each year Jessica Reveley’s K-3 class and Tina Farmilo’s early childhood learning kids spend time on the beach learning about intertidal life and habitat. These low tide beach days will be May 17th and June 16th. Volunteers please contact Leanna. Oceans Day This year Mayne Island’s Oceans Day will be on July 3rd. Unfortunately low tides don’t adhere to the internationally designated day. But what better way to celebrate than learn about the fascinating creatures and ecology we have here! Watch for details in next month’s Mayneliner and keep an eye out for posters. Restoration Monitoring at Henderson Community Park Spring is finally here and as the earth warms our senses are inspired by the smell and sight of spring flowers. In early May we will monitor the emergence of flowers and other plants inside and outside the deer enclosure at our restoration project at Henderson. We use a method called Photopoint Monitoring and are looking for volunteers who are interested in learning this method to help us with monitoring in the long term. It will also be an opportunity to learn about native plant species, Garry Oak and Douglas Fir ecosystems and the insects and wildlife that depend on them. Please contact Leanna (539-5168) if you are interested in volunteering.

Project Management

Leanna Boyer who is the Mayne Island Conservancy Society's Marine Studies Coordinator is in overall charge of the project and is responsible for scheduling of volunteers and professional and technical specialists needed for the execution of the planned work, as well as continuing involvement in on-site investigations.

  • Leanna completed a BSc majoring in biology (marine) and anthropology (2001) and an interdisciplinary MA (education, geography, environmental studies) focusing on learning and social change in the BC Community Eelgrass Network (2006). She was the lead author of three articles published in international peer-reviewed journals. Leanna has trained approx. 12 community groups to map and monitor eelgrass habitat since 2002, has volunteered on 3 eelgrass restoration projects in Saanich Inlet, has worked as an assistant biologist on eelgrass compensation projects, has worked for 2 non-profit organizations as an eelgrass mapper and data manager, has volunteered and worked as the Data Entry Coordinator for the Seagrass Conservation Working Group, has trained and supported community groups to manage eelgrass data, has participated in forage fish workshop hosted by SeaChange Marine Conservation Society (winter, 2008), has designed a step-by-step data entry manual for community groups.

Miriam Isaac-Renton is the Conservancy's Intern for 2010. Her appointment began in March and will continue until the end of November. She will be responsible for much of the "hands on" work on the foreshore with respect to forage fish spawning and nearshore activities around the kelp forests.

  • Miriam, a long time visitor to Mayne Island, studied Natural Resources Conservation at UBC and conducted independent research for use in presentations as a Coastal Naturalist aboard BC Ferries. She has also contributed to a scientific paper regarding the flora and fauna of Southwestern BC and acted as a research assistant in targeted studies in the Strait of Georgia. As an experienced academic writer Miriam has conducted "reviews of the literature" and created many reports dealing with conservation-related topics, and as a thoroughly grounded and eloquent presenter she is a member of Toastmasters International. Her computer skills especially in the area of Geographic Information Systems will be highly valued during a her appointment as Intern in the Shoreline Care Project.

Chris Fretwell is one of the Conservancy's interns for 2010. He began in late June and will continue until mid December, and has been doing much of the hands-on work for the forage fish survey and kelp mapping this summer, as well other projects.

  • Chris is nearing the end of his studies in Environmental Studies and Political Science at UVic, and has worked as an ecological monitoring technician in Terra Nova National Park, Newfoundland. His interests lie at the intersection of conservation, food security and community development, and he has been involved in various community groups acting in these areas. Music is another passion for Chris, and he often has multiple musical projects in the works. Chris considers Victoria home, but has spent many summers on Mayne and hopes to be here more consistently in the coming years

Professional and technical assistance will be provided by Nikki Wright of Sea Change and Pam Thuringer will act as scientific advisor for the project's forage fish surveys.

About the Marine Riparian Area

The interface between land and the ocean is called a marine riparian area. Important exchanges occur here which impact aquatic life. Riparian vegetation-plant life on l and-plays a role in pollution control, soil stability, marine habitat formation, as well as introducing nutrients into the marine food web.

Land plants control pollution by slowing contaminant run-off into the ocean as well as by absorbing and breaking down pollutants. They also prevent fine sediment from entering the water, which can the clog gills of marine animals and smother eggs. These plants also bind soil with their roots, preventing erosion.

Large woody debris, such as logs, can shape the marine environment. They provide shelter and places to forage and spawn as well as affecting sediment deposition. Living vegetation also contributes to this environment, mediating the effects of sun, wind and other environmental stresses, creating a microclimate where sensitive organisms can thrive.

Finally, land plants can exchange nutrients with the marine environment. Riparian vegetation often supports large populations of insects; these insects are an important part in the diet of fishes. Also, dead plant material provides food for marine decomposers.

Given the important relationship between land life and marine life, alteration of one affects the other. Human modification of riparian areas, through the removal of vegetation or the addition of riprap, affects marine life by interrupting the important processes listed above.

Volunteer Opportunities


This August the Mayne Island Conservancy will be mapping kelp beds around the island, and we are looking for volunteers to help with this project! Mapping will take place on the water, by kayak with handheld GPS. Whether you have your own kayak or not, any time and energy you can give will be instrumental in helping us complete the hands-on portion of this mapping project!

There are two time windows during which the tides are just right for our purposes – August 6-12, and August 16-25. If you are interested in helping out, please contact Chris Fretwell at 539-5168, or by email at For the complete schedule please refer to our Calendar

This project will set a baseline for future monitoring of Mayne Island kelp beds. Kelp beds resemble forests underwater, and create habitat for a crustaceans, plankton, snails, juvenile salmon, rockfish, surf smelt, and other marine life. Predators such as harbour seals, sea lions, sea birds, and orcas hunt around these kelp forests. Monitoring of the health and extent of these underwater forests will help us to make stewardship decisions to ensure their continued health.

Thanks for your time, and hope to see you on the water!

Thanks to those who responded to our appeal in this space last month. The weekend with the Apneist/Free Divers went very well. Some pictures of the weekend's activities have been posted on the Kelp & Eelgrass Mapping page.

Here is a picture of the team of diver volunteers from the Apneist Free Diving Club of Vancouver who did such a fine job for us over the weekend

Left to Right - Peter Pazdera, Gordon Polly, Miriam Isaac Renton, Eugene Lim, Greg Fee, Mary Frymire.

Softshores for Shoreline Care

A workshop on Shoreline care and conservation: Saturday February 19th from 11 to 4:30

For full information about this opportunity to contrbuteto this important MICS Project, please visit our Stewardship page.