by Amanda Kahn
In 30 minutes, the town of Bamfield will be featured on CBC’s comedy show Still Standing. Jonny Harris visited Bamfield and met its wonderful residents, plus got a tour of the marine station. You can watch the show online here.
By Nicole Webster
Perhaps we are a little focused on invertebrates here, or perhaps this gorgeous weather has gone to my head, but I have a ‘treat’ for you for an Image Fest Friday.
A friend of mine has a wonderful blog. It is insightful, delightful and full of photos. Bridgette just completed a stint working as a public educator for BMSC, and described herself as a biologist and science education consultant.
In honour of World Oceans day (yesterday), she posted the 2nd part of her 3 part series about her time in Bamfield this year.
I strongly encourage you to check them out, if only for the breathtaking imagery.
There’s a late-night invader on the BMSC webcam (a great place to get a spot of nostalgia, or to be glad its not raining where you are!)
From all of us writers at The Madreporite, thank you for reading, contributing, and asking questions throughout the year! Here’s looking forward to another wonderful year of beautiful west coast sunsets.
Do you have any photos of Bamfield, old or new, that you want to post on the blog? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
by Amanda Kahn
The Tides & Trails Market, the shop on the east side of Bamfield inlet (same side as the marine station), is under new ownership. The Huu-ay-aht First Nations have purchased it and the cafe next to it. The market carries a lot of fresh produce and is a convenient walk from the marine station. It is also the first property in Bamfield purchased by the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, though they run other businesses such as the Pachena Bay Campground and in forestry. I stopped in at the cafe this summer and the burger was tasty (and the fries were delicious!). They serve daily specials that are sometimes so local that they’ve come right off of someone’s fishing boat. Read more about the new ownership (as of April 2013) and check out the Tides & Trails Market and/or the cafe if you need groceries or a warm meal cooked by someone other-than-yourself while doing your research in Bamfield.
by Amanda Kahn
The Bamfield Inn is a beautiful inn, also called the Willow Inn, that closed its doors in 2002 to undergo renovations under new ownership. There is a lot of local back-story regarding the owner of the inn, why it fell into disrepair, how the locals feel about it, etc. that I am not going to talk about. It is not my place–I am not a resident and I was not present while that took place. An internet search, however, provides a just view into what the Inn looked like in 1993, compared to how it appears in August 2013.
The inn is not currently open for business, as the broken windows reveal. However, the building itself is beautiful and some of the changes since 1993 have brought in some of the unique characteristics of Bamfield. I love the front fence built from driftwood, the mossy roof that divulges that Bamfield is a temperate rain forest, the covered patio where you can enjoy a view of the inlet even on cold days, and the still-unchanged sign for the inn, complete with a brightly painted fish. It is wonderful to look from BMSC toward the inn across the inlet and imagine its greatness when it inevitably re-opens someday in the future. Several other inns are open for business in Bamfield and are also spectacular and unique–I just don’t have pictures of them–so keep on the lookout for them and the iconic Bamfield Inn if you’re planning to have family or friends visit you while you’re doing work/taking classes in BMSC.
By Ross Whippo (Underwater Whippo)
A couple of weeks ago I went on a fundive in Barkley Sound. Now, I may dive a lot, but in the last month or two they have all been working dives, so it was nice to get out for a leisurely dip without the transect, collection bag, or quadrat in my hand. Instead I just brought my camera, and am I ever glad I did!
I set out with a group of staff and researchers from the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre who were looking for some subtidal adventure. We boarded the Broken Island Adventures‘ diving vessel, the ‘Grunt Sculpin’, and set out for a pinnacle in the middle of Imperial Eagle Channel. This is an extremely exposed site, where a rocky mount rises up from around 100m depth to just 5m below the surface of the water. In fact, it took us a little time to even locate the site, using the boat’s anchor as a depth sounder.
Once in the water, we slowly followed the anchor line down and encountered some of the better visibility I’ve ever seen in Barkley Sound. I could see at least 15m across the pinnacle, and when you’re used to only seeing about 3m away, this is a vast improvement. The pinnacle itself was very rugged, covered in plumose anemones and more rockfish than I’ve ever seen in one place. China rockfish, tiger rockfish, and black rockfish were around every turn, but the best was yet to come.
As my buddy and I rounded a corner at about 18m below the surface, a movement caught my eye. Turning my attention to the motion, I quickly saw something that divers could only wish for, a full grown wolf eel out in the open, traveling across the bottom. I immediately pulled out my camera and began shooting video. I followed the wolf eel for a moment until it settled down on some rock. Then, suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I saw a large blob flash past. Looking up from the wolf eel I saw another amazing sight, a giant pacific octopus had just swam past me and was showing off an amazing warning display. The colors and patterns on its body rippled and flowed as it puffed itself up to look as big as possible. I was incredulous. I had to look back at the wolf eel just to make sure that what I was seeing was actually real. Just then I saw another group of divers coming into view. I dropped the camera and began yelling wildly into my regulator, waving my hands in the water trying to get their attention. Finally they saw me and we were able to appreciate this sight together.
The giant pacific octopus and the wolf eel are somewhat in competition with each other in nature. The both like to use the same sorts of small rocky caverns as dens and have been seen ‘duking it out’ to obtain the choicest resting place. The wolf eels use the dens as protection, the octopus also use them to lay their eggs. If you see an octopus under the rocks with what look like long strings of rice hanging from the ceiling, you’ve just encountered an octopus mother watching after her young.
I’m not sure what the “eel” and the octo I encountered that day were doing with each other. Perhaps I interrupted a death match for the nicest rocky condo on the pinnacle. Maybe there were just working out their differences, negotiating a peace. In any case, I felt that I had the encounter of a lifetime and was fortunate to see these creatures out in the open, not knowing when I would see one again. That is, until I saw another octopus ten minutes later….
By Carisa Keates
At the start we were all hyped up and ready to take on the 3.5km trail. Having hiked many trails before I thought it would be easy and we’d be at the beach in under an hour but, I was so wrong.
One hour and fourty-five minutes – that’s how long it took for us to climb up and along the edges of the “short” trail flooded with deep, heavy, and most of all sticky MUD. If any one of us did not avoid the mud at one point in time, there was no doubt that we would be knee deep in the sinking mud. Luckily with friends like these this trail was made all the more worth it. About twenty minutes in, I missed a log, and found myself sinking knee deep in the heavy brown-black sinking mud. My ankle twisted and slightly painful, but with the grins and giggles of the friends around me I couldn’t help but smile and laugh along with them. I didn’t care how much my ankle hurt, or how muddy I was. I was with my friends and we were on our way through this beautiful jungle climbing up tree’s and grasping branches like monkeys to escape the challengingly muddy trail we had decided to venture upon.
When we had escaped the muddy path at the end, we were welcomed to the entrance of Keeha Beach by the sweet sound of the waves crashing up on the sandy beach ahead. Around and above us were the marks of hikers that had braved this trail in the past. Washed up Buoys strung along thick rope and hung from the tree tops. On them were names and signatures of those who had taken the trail just like us. So colorful, they made the forest seem like it had been decorated in a way to somehow celebrate our hard work. A welcoming party for all who had made this arduous journey out to Keeha.
When first stepping out of the forest, all we wanted to do was take off our muddy boots and jackets, and jump right into the water. And that is exactly what I did. My ankle being in a fair amount of pain at that point appreciated it too. As the waves crashed upon the sandy shore, the crystal clear seawater rushed over my feet. The ice-cold feeling travelled from the tips of my toes though my feet and up my legs. Numbing the pain and cooling me down from the warmth my body most surely gained from the hike to this destination.
Far off to the left near the rocky intertidal zone my friends and I spotted a spray of water coming up above the waves, then another. We walked along the beach toward it, and it was just what we were hoping for. Two orcas, a baby and it’s mum were close into shore. Although the closer we got the further away they moved out away from the shore and the harder it was to get some excellent photo’s with my crappy iPhone camera. Even so, for the first time in my entire life I saw two whales out in the wild. Just standing there on the beach, staring out at the water as they swum away we all stood there in the breeze, taking in the beauty of the surroundings and the amazing creatures swimming further out to sea from us. That hike was worth every scratch, every bit of mud, and every bit of pain that we had to endure to get there.
If there was one downside to this entire experience I would have to say it would be that I had twisted my ankle, and with that ankle I had to walk with my dear friends back to the car parked at the entrance to the path. Regardless of how slow I may have been, the time with my friends going back over that trail again that afternoon just flew by. Our stories, jokes, songs and laughter kept us going. In the end that last hour and a half flew by and that adventure that afternoon was worth it all.
If you ever choose to take a venture on this trail like we did that afternoon, I would recommend the following:
1) Wear clothes you could care less about and are willing to clean out by hand later on.
2) Bring rubber boots, and rain pants/hip waiters (Editor: or clothes you are willing to get muddy).
3) Bring water and snacks
4) Bring people you can tolerate: In other words…people you love to laugh with and people that will keep you going strong the whole way through.
5) A Hiking pole or good stick to check the mud depth in front of you and to balance on logs and rocks.
Editors note: Regular hikers generally take ~1h to hike to Keeha, and it is a gorgeous camping spot, with fresh water further down the beach, and the bear box at the trail head. It is VERY muddy all year round, but driest in the fall. About a third the way up the trail is a split, with the right fork to Tapaltos beach (about the same distance as Keeha) and on to the lighthouse at Cape Beale (6km, be prepared to spend all day heading there and back), and the left fork to Keeha.
Getting there: Approximately 1 km east of Bamfield, go south on South Bamfield Road for around 2km. Parking is 400m north of the trail head. Follow the old logging road in to find the trail head on the left hand side.