Monitoring changes at Baeria Rocks Ecological Reserve

by Amanda Kahn

Life abounds in the northeastern Pacific Ocean–I could easily spend a whole SCUBA dive looking at the life on a single boulder.  Such dense carpets of life, however, can mask changes in the health or structure of the communities that live on those boulders.  Monitoring specific regions, especially ones designated as ecological reserves and marine protected areas, is one way to assess changes in what may still look like a carpet of life, but varies in what species make up that carpet, how diverse those species are, and whether sensitive species have been replaced by more robust or alien ones.

Baeria Rocks

Baeria Rocks Ecological Reserve. Source: BC Parks

One of those monitoring areas near BMSC is Baeria Rocks Ecological Reserve, whose original purpose was “To protect nesting seabirds, and to preserve rich intertidal and subtidal communities for research and educational purposes.”  It also protects a terrestrial plant, called the hairy goldfield (Lasthenia maritima), that lives primarily on wind-swept rocky shores.

Lasthenia maritima (plus some charismatic megafauna). Source: Encyclopedia of Life

It is also the closest provincial marine reserve to the marine centre, about 13 km away, providing easy access for regular monitoring.  The original detailed surveys from 1977 included species list, descriptions of different dive sites, and ecological observations.  The ecological reserve was established primarily for protection, so it is closed to the public.  However, various courses, students, instructors, and volunteers from the marine centre have continued monitoring through the years and provide virtual access where the public cannot go.  In the video below, and in others from this Friends of Ecological Reserves webpage, you can get a look at the life carpeting the cobbles of Baeria Rocks from a 2011 monitoring trip in video and picture form.  Enjoy the virtual dive!

To learn more about the ecological reserve, check out the links below:

Official BC Parks web page with information about Baeria Rocks Ecological Reserve

Photos from a 2009 monitoring trip by BMSC Scientific Diving course

I know I posted this earlier in the article, but the original 1977 dive reports have amazing details about the area and are an amazing read!

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2 thoughts on “Monitoring changes at Baeria Rocks Ecological Reserve

  1. Thanks Amanda,
    I am the Volunteer Warden at Baeria Rocks Ecological Reserve and wrote those early dive reports that you dredged up from somewhere. I hadn’t seen them in 36 years! I appreciate you blogging about Baeria and thank you for your volunteer work.
    Anne Stewart

    • Thank you Anne! Those dive reports were amazing–all credit goes to you for compiling such wonderful, detailed records of the site and continuing to be involved as Volunteer Warden. Oh, and If you ever wish to write more about it (as I’m sure you know tons more than I could dig up!), shoot me an email at bmscblog@gmail.com.

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